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Photoshop has become an indispensible tool for photographers, designers, and all other creative professionals, as well as students. Photoshop CS4 Essential Training teaches a broad spectrum of core skills that are common to many creative fields: working with layers and selections; adjusting, manipulating, and retouching photos; painting; adding text; automating; preparing files for output; and more. Instructor Jan Kabili demonstrates established techniques as well as those made possible by some of the new features unique to Photoshop CS4. This course is indispensable to those who are new to the application, just learning this version, or expanding their skills. Example files accompany the course.
When you're about to process a whole batch of photos and you know that you're going to treat them all the same way, you'll save yourself a lot of time if you record an action as you work on one photo and then playback that recorded action on the rest of the photos. In this movie, I'd like to show you how to make a simple action of your own. I am working in the Automation workspace, which is one of the preset workspaces that you'll find here in the Workspace menu in the Application Bar. I've also opened the Adjustments panel, because I am going to use adjustments in the course of recording this particular action, but not all actions will use adjustments of course.
This is the Actions panel, which is the place that you'll record actions, and the places where you can view actions you've already made. Photoshop ships with some default actions, which are located here in the Default Actions set. To see what's there, you can click the arrow to the left of that Actions set. And when you get some time, I suggest you go through and play some of these default actions on your own photos. There are some interesting ones here. But we're not going to use the Default Actions in this lesson. So I am going to collapse this set by clicking the arrow to the left of it, and I am going to create my own set to hold my actions.
That's an important step, so that you'll be able to save your actions later. I'll go to this folder icon at the bottom of the Actions panel, click there, and I'll give this set a new name. I'll call it my actions, and I'll click OK. Now I am ready to start creating an action. The first step is to go to the Create New Action icon, which is right here to the left of the Trash Can at the bottom of the Actions panel. I'll click that icon and in the New Action window that pops up, I'll give the action a name. In this action, I am going to include two main steps. I am going to lighten a photo and then I am going to convert it to black and white.
So I'll name this action light bw. From the Set menu, I am going to make sure that I am putting my new action in my actions set, not in the Default Action set. I am not going to bother giving it a function key, which is just a shortcut that can be used when you playback an action. And I am not going to bother labeling the action with a color. I am just going to click Record. But before I click Record, I have to remind myself that everything I do from here on until I stop recording will become part of the action. Now I'll click the Record button, and I can see at the bottom of the Actions panel that the red record light is on.
And I can see that my New Action is now here in my actions set, but it doesn't have any steps yet. My first step is going to be to lighten the photo. I showed you in earlier movies that there are a couple of ways to apply an adjustment, and that the most prudent way to do that is with an adjustment layer. And if you want to use one of the preset adjustments that comes with Photoshop, you can do that one of two ways. One way is just to go to the Adjustments panel and click on the icon for the adjustment that you want to use, in this case Curves, and then in the Curves Adjustment area, go to the menu at the top, and choose one of the presets from there.
Because I want to lighten my photos, I am going to choose Lighter, and you can see here in the Curves Adjustments panel that I now have a lightening type curve, one that bows up, and that my photo is now lighter. And if you look in the Actions panel, you can see that there is now one step in this action labeled Make Adjustment Layer. Now what I want to do is convert the image to black and white. I am going to go to the bottom of the Adjustments panel and click the big arrow there that turns green when I hover over it to go back to the Adjustments panel. Notice that was not recorded in the Actions panel.
That's just kind of an administrative step. Not the kind of thing that's automatically included in an action. Back here in the Adjustments panel, I am going to apply another preset, this time, a Black & White Preset. I could go into the Black & White adjustment and access the preset from there, but the other way to apply a preset adjustment layer is from down here in the Presets area of the Adjustments panel. I'll click the arrow to the left of Black & White Presets and then I'll scroll down to find the one that I want. I'd like to apply a black & white filter that's going to make the sky a little bit dark, and the mountains slightly light, and so I am going to choose either a Red or Yellow filter.
I think I'll try a Yellow filter. And you can see the results right here in the image. I think that looks pretty good, so I am going to go with that. Now that all the processing is done, all that's left to do is to save the image and close it. So I am going to go to the File menu at the top of the screen and I am going to choose Save As. Remember I am still recording. Now I am going to save on my desktop, so I'll choose Desktop from here. I'll leave the name of the file as it was, and then I am going down to the Format field. I'd like my black & white copies to be Photoshop documents, so I'll leave Format set to Photoshop.
But of course you could choose whatever format you need from this menu. I want to save the file with layers, because if you do look in the Layers panel, you'll see that I now have two adjustment layers there. The Black & White and the Curves adjustment layers that I just created, and then I'll click Save. Now I am going to close this image by clicking the X on the tab or by going to the File menu and choosing Close. Now I am done with all the steps that I want to include in the action, so I am going to stop recording. To do that, I'll go back to the Actions panel and I'll click this icon just to the left of the Record button.
I am going to close this Adjustments panel so that you can see more of the Actions panel above by going to the Adjustments panel menu and choosing Close Tab Group. And then I am going to go over the border between Actions panel and the Layers panel below and drag down, so that you can see what's included in the new action. Here's the light bw action, and here are all of its steps. I always test my actions on a single photo before I apply them to a whole batch, because you'll never know if you've missed a step or done something incorrectly as you recorded the action until you play it back on at least one image.
So I am going to open another image by going to the File menu, choosing Open, and going into the Exercise Files folder, and down to Chapter 14 Automation. I'll choose the flatirons4 image, but you can choose any of them. It doesn't make any difference, and then I'll click Open. To play an action on a single photo, you open the photo as I've done here and then you select the action in the Actions panel and you click the Play button at the bottom of the Actions panel. Photoshop just played the action on this image and it closed the action at the end, because that was part of the recorded action.
To see the results, I am going to go out to my desktop. And there I see my flatirons4.psd file. I'll open that by double-clicking it, and it should open in Photoshop, where I can see that the action successfully changed this image to black & white. First applying a Curves adjustment layer, which lightened the image, and then applying a Black & White adjustment layer using the Black & White Preset that I'd chosen. Now that I know I have a successful action, I'd like to save it just to preserve it for the future. You can't save individual actions, but you can save an action set.
So I am going to select this action set, my actions, and then I am going to go to the panel menu on the right side of the Actions panel and from there, I am going to choose Save Actions. I'll save the my actions set into this default location and I'll just click Save, and now I'll always be able to get this Action set back with my light bw action. The reason that I recorded this action is to make my life easier when I am ready to process a whole batch of photos. In the movies to come, I'll show you a couple of ways to apply an action to multiple photos using Photoshop's Batch Processing command and using the Image Processor, a technique I really like.
The next time that you know that you have to do the same thing to a whole batch of images, make your life easier using the techniques for creating a simple action that I've shown you here.
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