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Photoshop mastery can be elusive, but in Photoshop CS4 One-on-One: Mastery, best-selling author and video trainer Deke McClelland teaches the most powerful, unconventional, and flexible features of the program. In this third and final installment of the popular and comprehensive series, Deke delves into the strongest features that Photoshop has to offer, including scalable vector graphics, Smart Objects, and Photomerge. Exercise files accompany the course.
Recommended prerequisites: Photoshop CS4 One-on-One: Fundamentals and Photoshop CS4 One-on-One: Advanced, both part of the lynda.com Online Training Library®.
Download Deke's customized keyboard layouts and color settings for Photoshop from the Exercise Files tab.
In this exercise I'm going to show you how to create an action, bearing in mind that actions allow you to record and play back multi-step operations. So if you find yourself doing the same thing over and over again, not only is it a big time saver in that you don't have to sit there and perform all those operations manually, but Photoshop can play back a group of operations much more quickly than you can perform them. Even if you are like an absolute robot and you could just whip through the stuff, Photoshop can do it faster. So they are great automation tools, as you might imagine.
I've gone ahead and opened this image called The terrors of Sammy.jpg and the idea was I had this Olympus Stylus 1030 SW, which is this great little point and shoot camera that you can put in the water and it's shock resistant and you can drop it. It's really an awesome camera. I love it. So I brought it to the water park and Sammy got it in his head that he would be frightened of every single aspect of the water park. So I have about a hundred shots of him looking totally goofy like this. So anyway that's what we got here, but now this camera isn't smart enough to rotate the images properly, so they all appear in landscape and that means any portrait shots like this one need to be rotated upright. So let's say that I want to create an action that rotates the image and then it scales the image for output to a little dye-sub snapshot printer and it also apply some sharpening. Just some basic operation like that.
So let's go ahead and perform the operation and record it as an action at the same time and you do that by bringing up the Actions palette. It lives right here in my little column palettes and if I hover over it, you can see it's a little playback button and we see the word Actions. You can also go out to the Window menu and choose the Actions command. Here is the Actions palette. By default, you are going to see this action set right there, these folders are called action sets and if you twirl it open, these are the default actions that ship along with Photoshop and there are the big list of actions that come with the program Now I warn you not to have enormous expectations of these actions. They are not the kind of thing that you'll find yourself doing over and over again. They are merely demonstrations what you can do with actions. So not the most spectacular bunch, but there is some stuff going on. You can try them, just grab an action like so and then play it back by going down here to a little play button and see that it's not going to function for you and then hit Stop and bag it, like so.
This one requires a selection outline in order to work. That's why it has the word selection in parenthesis after it. So my bet on that one. Let's try Molten Lead instead and see if it looks anything like Molten Lead, and we'll go down and click on the play button. I have a feeling this is going to wipe out this image. So let's just sit back. But yeah, that looks great. So it doesn't really a matter what you start with on that specific action, you are going to get this layer right there. Charming. Let's go ahead and press the Backspace key to get rid of it, because it's nothing even resembling what I want. You also, by the way, if you click on this little palette menu icon, then you will see that you can choose some other action sets as well including commands, just a bunch of single commands recorded as actions, then you could play them back as actions. I don't get it.
And then some other stuff too that you can try out. I don't mean to speak ill of these things. I'm sure some person at Adobe spent a long time on them, but I never really found much use for them. I find that it's better to have your own idea of what it is you want to accomplish and then go ahead and record it. So here's how. Let's go ahead and twirl close Default Actions because we don't want to mess with that. The idea is you don't want to go throwing your actions into somebody else's set. Let's go ahead and make our own set, because that's how you save and load actions as well as we see. Let's move the bottom of the palette up just a little bit. Come down here to the bottom and you'll see this Create New Set icon.
Go ahead and click on it and then it will ask you what you want to call your set. And I'm just going to call mine My actions and then click OK. And now so far, all we have done is create a folder in which to store our actions. Notice that the record button is not going. It's just sitting there, and you can't click on it either because you need to create an action before you can record it. When you create an action, it starts recording automatically as we'll see. But you do it by clicking on this little page icon down here at the bottom in the Actions palette and then you'll be asked to name your action and I'm going to call mine Rotate & Scale and I want it to be inside the My actions set; I don't want to put it in Default Actions, of course.
You can assign a function key if you want to, but note that your keys are pretty limited here. On the PC you can only go F2 through F12, and then in addition to pressing the function key by itself, you can specify whether you also want to add Shift and/or Ctrl, being of course Command on the Macintosh side of things, and that's it. For some reason they've limited your keyboard shortcuts to just those variations. I don't find the keyboard shortcuts to be all that useful, but you can apply them if you want. Every once a while I'll throw a function key on something that I'm doing incessantly, but that's about it.
Then you can color your action as well, if you want to. I am not going to do any of that stuff. I'm just going to click on the Record button and now we are in the process of recording an action. See that little red Record button right there? That tells you that you are recording. Now I'm not doing any thing, so there is nothing to record. It's not until I start choosing commands and otherwise performing operations here inside of Photoshop that I start racking up steps inside of my Action. But Photoshop is now poised and aware of what I'm doing.
Notice that I'm kind of delaying things and I'm doing this for a reason to demonstrate to you that time does not matter where Photoshop is concerned. Even if I take nine years to explain the next step to you, Photoshop will play it back instantaneously once we're done creating the Action. In the next exercise we are going to begin performing some operations that will be recorded here inside the Actions palette.
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