Fun with photoshop actions

posted on 19th of september, 2009

If you have photoshop and use it in your artistic work there's one thing you can do that might save you a lot of precious time. Especielly if you find yourself using a lot of the same processing for your imaging. You can create your own photoshop actions. They are basically little photoshop helpers that save your workflow and processing routines so that you with a click of a button can get them to do the work for you.
Once you get the hang of them, it's very simple and can be a lot of fun! If you don't know how to create them I would advice you to read this article:

Now on to some good to knowledge and tips.

Organize your actions:
When you create your actions you make "sets" of them, and in every set you have a few different ones. You can add as many as you want. I would suggest naming them something easy so you know what you have where. For exemple, create a set where you keep your basic workflow and everyday photoshop needs. You can create short actions with exemple your favorite curves adjustment or a long one that will shape your image from start to finish exactly according to your wants and needs. Create another set for actions you use when you want to go a little wild and maybe experiment. You can also make a black and white set, a colorful set, a tint set, the options are endless.

Don't expect magic every time:
Photoshop actions do not work like a magic wand, they are simply made to make your life easier. What works on one picture might not work on the next. Youhave to be willing to experiment a little and also to make adjusments.

Create more freedom:
You can demand your actions to give you mroe choice by pressing the little toogle box at the side of every step, that means that you will be able to adjust that special setting yourself and therfor have more control over the end result. You can do this on each and every step if you like. Then it will simply bring up the little adjust boxes in the right order and lets you decide completely how you want it. Saves tons of time and still give you complete artistic freedom.

Sharing is caring!:
A beautiful thing about photoshop actions is that you can share with your friends as well as strangers online. There's tons of sites and groups completely dedicated to this that offer many beautiful and helpful actions for you to try and play with. You can also upload your own actions for others to use. There's of course commercial actions for sale but in my experience the free ones are often just as good . Keep on playing and you will soon find your own favorites.

Subtle and strong:
I almost always create two almost identical actions but with a difference in strength. I have one for a more subtle effect and one for a stronger. Different pictures need different moods and treatments.

Use a return point:
Sometimes you run an action and find yourself not liking the result. That's when you look at your layer palette at the top and pick a snapshot to return to a previous state before the action started working. You simply click the little arrow to the right (on your history pallet) and choose MAKE A SNAP SHOT and there you have it!

Dare to experiment:
You can't lose! if you don't like an effect you can simply erase it or re-record parts of it. There's so much room for artistic freedom and exploring, actions are a perfect way to try things you haven't tried before and then test it on different kinds of images. I have created many amazing new looks this way that would have never been made if I didn't use actions. Combining actions can also be great fun, some treatments just create wonder together. Don't be scared of new looks, embrace them and grow as an artist. If you don't dare to try you won't delvelop your skills:)

Comments (2)

Posted by Creativei on September 21, 2009
Well Im a great fan of actions, it makes my life easy, for magazines we need to convert RGB to CMYK with slight adjustments and resolution, I use this actions on the full folder. It really saves lots of time.
For the matter of fact I have collected over 2000 actions from internet and some paid ones too. I cannot share them as its not my work.
Posted by Fultonsphoto on September 21, 2009
Interesting and usefull, thanks.

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