I use Photoshop actions a lot, both mine and off-the-shelf ones, and when I talk to someone about Photoshop, I usually mention them a few times. And than… unavoidable question: what are Photoshop actions and how do you use them? Do you have to pay to use them?
So, here’s the answer for all of you who wonder the same thing…
First of all – is it free? It can be free. You could either create your own actions or download the free ones. However, many people have made a business out of creating and selling Photoshop actions so those would not be free, you would have to buy them.
I used Photoshop Actions to increase the contrast and sharpen the first image. I used a separate action to add a purple tint to the image.
Now, the simplest way to describe Photoshop actions is to define them as recordings of steps you do in Photoshop. For instance, here’s an example of what an average Photoshop editing might look like:
you open Photoshop and before you do any editing, you
(1) resize/ downsize your photo to 400×600 pixels so you can upload it to your blog or Facebook faster, then you
(2) brighten your photo,
(3) increase the contrast,
(4) sharpen it,
(5) add white/ black border, and finally
(6) type your name on it before you
(7) save the photo to your “Blog Photos” folder on your desktop.
Let’s say you go thought these seven steps for every photo you use online. If you use just a few photos now and then, than you may be OK without actions. However, if you edit 10 or 20 photos using the same steps every week, than you would definitely benefit from learning how to use (and using) actions.
If you use actions you can avoid spending time on each step by recording them once (creating an action) and using the action as many times as you want. Actions save you time and simplify your editing process. Actions basically automate your editing process and reproduce each editing step exactly the same way you did it when you recorded it. All you have to do is to select the action you’d like to use and hit the Play button in the Actions menu (see the photo below). Of course, it is also mandatory that you grab your favorite beverage and sit in the front of the screen watching how Photoshop takes care of your photos for you.
The simplest way to reach actions is through the Window menu at the top tool bar in Photoshop (highlighted blue). Check Actions in the menu and the actions palette will pop-up. Actions are very simple to use and create and here’s a simple overview of the creating process.
To create an action:
- Select a New Action icon,
- Name the action by double clicking on the icon and typing the name
- Hit the Record button right before you start editing your photo.
- Once you are done with editing (or want to record only a part of your editing process), hit the Stop Recording button. That’s it.
Your action is now created and ready to use. If you decide to include the “save” or “save as” step of your editing process into the action, be advised that if there is already a photo with the same name in your default folder, Photoshop will not ask you if you would like to replace the existing image or not – it will simply replace it. …if you have found a way around this, please let me know.
I used Photoshop Actions to increase the contrast in the first image and then a separate action to create a more vintage look.
Now, how do you use your recorded action? Select it in your actions menu (remember the Window menu above?) and hit the Play button. Very simple!
A question for you who use Photoshop actions: what is your favorite thing about actions and do you have any tricks/ tips on using actions?