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Creating an action

From: Photoshop CS4 Essential Training

Video: Creating an action

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.

Creating an action

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.

Show transcript

This video is part of

Image for Photoshop CS4 Essential Training
Photoshop CS4 Essential Training

103 video lessons · 67350 viewers

Jan Kabili
Author

 
Expand all | Collapse all
  1. 2m 31s
    1. Welcome
      1m 27s
    2. Using the example files
      1m 4s
  2. 25m 14s
    1. Touring the interface
      4m 25s
    2. Working with tabbed documents
      5m 15s
    3. Using tools efficiently
      3m 51s
    4. Arranging panels
      3m 53s
    5. Customizing keyboard shortcuts
      2m 50s
    6. Saving a custom workspace
      3m 0s
    7. Changing screen modes
      2m 0s
  3. 19m 3s
    1. Touring the Bridge interface
      6m 31s
    2. Opening images from Bridge
      1m 20s
    3. Reviewing images
      4m 42s
    4. Finding images
      6m 30s
  4. 44m 53s
    1. Setting preferences
      4m 23s
    2. Choosing color settings
      8m 11s
    3. Zooming and panning
      5m 27s
    4. Resizing and image resolution
      3m 17s
    5. Adding to the canvas
      2m 2s
    6. Rotating the canvas
      1m 44s
    7. Choosing color
      4m 49s
    8. Sizing a brush tip
      3m 4s
    9. Undoing and the History panel
      5m 0s
    10. Saving and file formats
      3m 29s
    11. Creating a file from scratch
      3m 27s
  5. 37m 58s
    1. Making geometric selections
      6m 14s
    2. Modifying selections
      4m 43s
    3. Combining selections
      3m 16s
    4. Using the Quick Selection tool
      5m 34s
    5. Refining selection edges
      4m 12s
    6. Using Quick Mask mode
      2m 18s
    7. Selecting with the improved Color Range command
      4m 32s
    8. Selecting with the Magnetic Lasso tool
      2m 28s
    9. Using the Background Eraser tool
      3m 7s
    10. Saving selections
      1m 34s
  6. 39m 56s
    1. Understanding layers
      5m 43s
    2. Creating layers
      5m 12s
    3. Working in the Layers panel
      2m 19s
    4. Locking layers
      4m 17s
    5. Working with multiple layers
      4m 6s
    6. Merging and flattening layers
      3m 55s
    7. Adding a shape layer
      4m 43s
    8. Basic layer masking
      4m 23s
    9. Using layer blend modes and opacity
      5m 18s
  7. 23m 19s
    1. Cropping
      3m 26s
    2. Straightening
      3m 17s
    3. Transforming
      4m 42s
    4. Working with Smart Objects
      6m 48s
    5. Using Content-Aware Scaling
      5m 6s
  8. 1h 10m
    1. Reading histograms
      4m 21s
    2. Using adjustment layers and the Adjustment panel
      6m 4s
    3. Adjusting tones with Levels
      7m 49s
    4. Limiting adjustments with layer masks
      5m 40s
    5. Using masks in the new Masks panel
      6m 9s
    6. Limiting adjustments by clipping
      3m 6s
    7. Adjusting with Shadow/Highlight
      5m 7s
    8. Adjusting with Curves
      7m 37s
    9. Adjusting with Hue/Saturation
      3m 42s
    10. Adjusting with Vibrance
      2m 16s
    11. Removing a color cast
      4m 26s
    12. Using the Black & White adjustment layer
      2m 39s
    13. Using the Dodge Burn and Sponge tools
      4m 11s
    14. Reducing noise
      2m 39s
    15. Sharpening
      4m 42s
  9. 38m 0s
    1. Using the Spot Healing Brush tool
      5m 17s
    2. Using the Healing Brush tool
      5m 51s
    3. Using the Patch tool
      4m 52s
    4. Using the Clone Stamp tool
      4m 8s
    5. Enhancing eyes
      9m 29s
    6. Changing facial structure
      5m 0s
    7. Softening skin
      3m 23s
  10. 44m 38s
    1. What's a raw image?
      4m 25s
    2. Touring the Camera Raw interface
      7m 35s
    3. Working in the Basic panel
      7m 54s
    4. Working in the Tone Curve panel
      2m 21s
    5. Working in the HSL/Grayscale and Split Toning panels
      3m 46s
    6. Looking at the other Camera Raw panels
      3m 45s
    7. Using the Adjustment Brush tool
      4m 2s
    8. Using the Graduated Filter tool
      3m 56s
    9. Working with multiple files
      6m 54s
  11. 21m 6s
    1. Using the Brushes panel
      8m 30s
    2. Filling with color
      3m 49s
    3. Replacing color
      4m 14s
    4. Using gradients
      4m 33s
  12. 16m 55s
    1. Working with point type
      9m 59s
    2. Working with paragraph type
      3m 17s
    3. Warping text
      3m 39s
  13. 25m 23s
    1. Adding a layer style
      4m 6s
    2. Customizing a layer style
      3m 35s
    3. Copying a layer style
      3m 5s
    4. Creating a new style
      3m 32s
    5. Using Smart Filters
      5m 22s
    6. Working in the Filter Gallery
      5m 43s
  14. 13m 14s
    1. Auto-blending focus
      4m 47s
    2. Creating Photomerge panoramas
      4m 2s
    3. Combining group photos
      4m 25s
  15. 23m 27s
    1. Creating an action
      7m 16s
    2. Batch processing with an action
      6m 36s
    3. Using the Image Processor
      9m 35s
  16. 29m 20s
    1. Printing
      11m 32s
    2. Making a contact sheet from Bridge
      6m 12s
    3. Creating a web gallery from Bridge
      7m 17s
    4. Preparing photos for the web
      4m 19s
  17. 30s
    1. Goodbye
      30s

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