Photoshop can seem confusing at first glance but once you have got around the basics, it becomes an invaluable tool for photographers and designers alike.
There are many helpful features but the most efficient has to be using Photoshop Actions. You soon learn, as you begin to regularly work on this program, that there will be certain tasks that you will have to repeat, often over and over. For example, changing your image to black and white, flattening and saving to a particular file.
It will quickly start to feel tiresome and will eat into your time. But the kind folks at Adobe created the Actions tool to make those repetitive jobs so much easier.
How to Create Actions
- Find your Actions palette, if it’s not already open, you can find it under the Windows menu. If you don’t have any actions already set up you can go through the default ones already listed. Or alternatively you can add ready made ones by downloading other professional’s handy actions like Gavin Seim’s.
- You will see at the bottom of the actions palette there are a number of buttons showing the symbols to play, record and stop. These are the most important buttons you will use because they allow you to make a record of your habits.
- To set up a new action pull down the ‘Action’ menu and click on ‘New’. Name the file whatever you like and then your new addition will be saved in the action palette. Then figure out what time saving sequence you want to record (eg, turning your image black and white), press that record button when you’re ready and do what you would normally do. Then press the stop button when you are done. It’s honestly that easy.
- If you mess something up or if you accidentally skip a step — don’t worry. After recording the action you can go back and edit the steps, add steps, and re-record.
Using Your Actions
- The beauty of recording the repetitive steps that you do on Photoshop is that after you have recorded them, you can implement them into your new work at the press of a button.To do this, click on ‘button mode’ in your Actions palette and your previously recorded actions will turn into square buttons. Then you will find those time saving tricks ready literally at the ‘click of a button’. Click and go. It really is that simple.
- You can categorise your actions using ‘sets’ and group them together for ease. You may have 10 actions you’ve saved and five of them are the ones you use most frequently, so group those together in one folder. You can organise your palettes to be as time saving and efficient as you want.
- When you click on play to activate your action, you will see layers building in the bottom palette. Layers are there to help you easily make changes, so you can still edit at any point. Open up the layers and adjust the opacity etc as required.
- If you make any changes to your actions remember to save them, just in case Photoshop decides to crash – it has been known! And if you decide to delete a file, don’t worry about it deleting the main action files, you will have just removed them from the actions palette. As long as you have saved it on your computer somewhere the original files will still be there, ready for reinstallation.
Do you use actions? What are your thoughts on them?