Tutorial: How to Create Photoshop Actions for Your Projects
By Mike Moloney
Editing in Photoshop can help to dramatically improve your images and design projects. You can enhance the details and add unique colors to your photos quickly and with layers to edit and adjust—not to mention all the other amazing things you can do with Photoshop.
One big way to save time is by using Photoshop Actions. What are those? Photoshop Actions are basically your edits saved into filters. You can reuse them on future images with the click of a button!
This tutorial will show you how to create Photoshop Actions and apply them to your editing workflow in a few simple, straightforward steps.
How to Create Photoshop Actions
Start by opening the image of your choice in Photoshop. For this tutorial, I will be using a photo I took while traveling in Santorini, Greece. Keep in mind, though, that you can use Photoshop Actions for any type of photo, design, or multimedia project.
Next click Window > Actions and make sure the Actions layer is checked. This will ensure that the Actions Panel shows up in your workspace so you can start creating Photoshop Actions.
Once the Actions Panel is open you can create folders and actions to use in your work. This panel makes it easy to organize your Photoshop Actions and keep them in different groups for various projects.
Create a folder by clicking the folder icon in the bottom right of the Actions Panel.
Next, click the icon directly to the right of the folder or ‘Create new set’ icon. This button allows you to start recording your action.
After you click this and title your action, click ‘Record’ to get started. You will notice the circular icon in the Actions Panel now becomes red. This signifies you are recording and any changes you make in Photoshop will be captured in your action.
Now that you are recording, you can add adjustments and make changes to your photo. Be careful to avoid certain adjustments like cropping, brushes, and other changes that may not scale for images of different sizes and orientations.
The key to creating versatile and flexible actions is to only make changes that can be applied consistently. Otherwise you might end up with mistakes and wildly different effects than you originally intended when recording the action.
Once you’re finished adding all of the adjustments and edits you’d like, simply click the ‘STOP’ icon next to the red recording icon. This will end your recording and complete the action.
If you want to add more effects or remove some steps, there are a few ways to do this.
You can always click the recording icon to continue from the current step you’re at and add more adjustments. When doing this, be sure the previous steps have already been applied or ‘played’ onto your photo so you can get an accurate depiction of the final look you are creating.
You can also click individual steps in the action and then hit the delete key on your keyboard to remove them. One reason you might delete steps is if you accidentally added the wrong adjustment layer and then deleted it. This would all get recorded into your action and adds more time to your workflow. Removing redundant or unnecessary steps is a good way to keep your actions lean and efficient.
Wrapping It Up
That’s all there is to it! You’ve just successfully created your first Photoshop Action.
For best results, try to practice recording and using your actions a lot. You’ll learn how Photoshop records your steps and applies the effects. This can help you see what works best for other photos and what adjustments just don’t translate properly.
Also, keep in mind that actions can do a lot more than edit a photo. People use Photoshop Actions for text effects, 3D rendering, and so other useful tasks. Experiment with the tools you use on a daily basis and see if an action can be used to help save some time.
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