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Creating a basic action

From: Photoshop CS6 for Web Design

Video: Creating a basic action

As a designer, I'm always trying to streamline my workflow and make myself more productive. The best way to do that inside of Photoshop is to start using some of the automation tools. One of the best automation tools inside of Photoshop are actions, and in this movie we're going to be exploring the Actions panel, and we'll also create our first basic action so we can understand how they work and why they're so useful. First things first: let's open up the Actions panel. I'll go up to the Window menu and choose Actions. Once I've the Actions panel open, I'll expand it down so you can see it, and I'll also expand out the Default Action set.

Creating a basic action

As a designer, I'm always trying to streamline my workflow and make myself more productive. The best way to do that inside of Photoshop is to start using some of the automation tools. One of the best automation tools inside of Photoshop are actions, and in this movie we're going to be exploring the Actions panel, and we'll also create our first basic action so we can understand how they work and why they're so useful. First things first: let's open up the Actions panel. I'll go up to the Window menu and choose Actions. Once I've the Actions panel open, I'll expand it down so you can see it, and I'll also expand out the Default Action set.

There are several actions that ship with Photoshop, but most of these aren't going to give you anything useful, in my experience. So I usually just collapse these up and work from my own actions and my ownaction sets. Action sets refer to the folders, like you see here, that contain various actions. I always look at it as, I group actions according to the different types of tasks that I'm doing inside of Photoshop. So for instance, I might have some resizing actions, some cropping actions, some web or usability-testing actions. I might have some filter or creative actions.

I group all of those into their own separate sets, making it easier for me to access the actions I need at any given time. For this particular demonstration, I'm going to create a new action set by coming down and clicking right here on this Create new action set folder. Once I do that, I'm going to call this Mobile Testing and hit OK. Once I've created my new action set, I'm ready to start creating actions inside of it. In order to do that, you're going to come down and click this New Action icon. Once you click that icon, the New Action dialog box comes up and you can type in the name of your action.

For this action I'm going to call it Retina Display Test. I'll save it to the Mobile Testing set. Now the cool part about actions is the fact that you can assign function keys to these. So if you really want to get quick, you can actually assign a keyboard shortcut to this action. So something like Shift+F2 or Shift+Command+F3 or whatever you might wanted to use. You can also assign a color, which comes in handy when using something called Button mode. I'll go ahead and turn on the red color, and we'll see what that means in just a moment. Now I'm going to hit record. Here is the part where a lot of people get thrown off.

They hear the word "record" and they automatically think of timing. They think that they're being timed, so they rush through and they do things and they might make mistakes. You're not being timed when you're creating actions inside of Photoshop. Photoshop merely has flipped on a switch to say, okay, anything this guy does while this is turned on, I need to remember, because he's going to want to do this again later and I don't want him to have to go back to the menus and find all the stuff again. So it's merely recording steps, not the amount of time it takes you to do them. In my experience, it's always good practice to write down every step of the action that you're going to perform before you actually record it.

Maybe actually go through and practice that as well a few times before you go through the recording phase. That way when you go through and record it, you ensure that you get it right each and every time, and you don't have to re-record the action. Basically, what I'm going to do here is I'm going to set up an action that tests this for our Retina display. In order to do that, I need to scale the image up, but I want to add something to that: a snapshot in the History panel. The snapshot in the History panel allows me to go back and forth between the original image and the new Retina graphic. So I'll first go over to the History panel, I'll go down to the bottom of the History panel, and I'll select this small icon which looks like a camera to create a snapshot.

Then I'm going back over to the Actions panel. In the Actions panel, you'll see a new step has been added that says Make snapshot. So it actually recorded what I did. Now I'll go up to the Image menu, choose Image Size, change Pixels to Percent, and change this to 200, so 200%. Hit OK. Now you see Image Size is right there. If you toggle the little triangle next to any one of these steps, it actually shows you what you did in the step. I'll toggle that back up to close it. When you're ready to complete the action, come down to the bottom of the Actions panel and click stop.

Now any time I want to run this action on anything else, all I have to do is open the file and click the play button. So let's revert this file by going to File > Revert, and I'll go over to the History panel, and I'll also remove the snapshot that I created. There we go. And I'm going to go ahead and go back over to the Actions panel. I'll select Retina Display Test and I'll come down to the bottom and I'll hit play. When I hit play, all the steps that I just did play back on the image, and if I go over to the History panel, I have my new snapshot right there. And check this out.

I can go from 1x to 2x just by clicking. So I get to test the clarity and alignment of all my objects for both the Retina display and the regular display on the iPhone, just by toggling back and forth between these. If I go back to the Actions panel, I can also switch to something called Button mode, by clicking on the Actions panel menu and choosing Button mode. Remember earlier when I assigned the red color to my action? There it is, at the bottom, Retina Display Test. So if I do File > Revert again, I can click Retina Display Test.

It plays everything back. There it is, at 2x. If I go to the History panel, I now have another snapshot, which I can go back and forth anytime I want to. Pretty neat! So it will probably take some time for you to develop all of your actions, and you may not even know what things you do repetitively that would require an action inside of Photoshop. But as you continue to evolve your own personal workflow, you'll find things that become repetitive. Try doing those as actions and recording your steps to save yourself some time down the road.

Show transcript

This video is part of

Image for Photoshop CS6 for Web Design
Photoshop CS6 for Web Design

75 video lessons · 49239 viewers

Justin Seeley
Author

 
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  1. 1m 9s
    1. Welcome
      48s
    2. Using the exercise files
      21s
  2. 25m 50s
    1. Designing for screens
      1m 8s
    2. Decoding screen size and resolution
      3m 9s
    3. Exploring the PSD-to-HTML workflow
      2m 25s
    4. Setting up Photoshop for web work
      5m 29s
    5. Creating a new document for web
      2m 36s
    6. Creating a new document for mobile
      4m 24s
    7. Setting up a responsive web layout
      3m 31s
    8. Creating email newsletter documents
      3m 8s
  3. 20m 39s
    1. Adjusting color settings
      4m 13s
    2. Understanding web color
      4m 0s
    3. Creating a color palette
      4m 56s
    4. Creating custom swatches
      3m 34s
    5. Applying color to shapes and graphics
      3m 56s
  4. 20m 36s
    1. Exploring the Layers panel
      4m 9s
    2. Renaming and grouping layers
      7m 19s
    3. Searching and filtering layers
      3m 11s
    4. Using layer comps effectively
      3m 4s
    5. Using automatic layer selection
      2m 53s
  5. 29m 2s
    1. Using vector shapes vs. pixel shapes
      3m 31s
    2. Creating vector shapes
      5m 2s
    3. Working with fills and strokes
      4m 36s
    4. Working with Smart Objects
      7m 47s
    5. Importing images
      3m 57s
    6. Cropping and resizing images
      4m 9s
  6. 28m 48s
    1. Planning your project
      3m 13s
    2. Using guides and rulers
      6m 40s
    3. Using a grid system
      8m 28s
    4. Developing a layout with shape layers
      4m 4s
    5. Making pixel-perfect adjustments
      6m 23s
  7. 23m 19s
    1. Using point text vs. paragraph text
      2m 10s
    2. Using text as text vs. using text as an image
      2m 47s
    3. Understanding web-safe fonts
      2m 41s
    4. Inserting placeholder text
      4m 2s
    5. Creating and using character styles
      2m 37s
    6. Creating and using paragraph styles
      6m 11s
    7. Creating editable 3D text
      2m 51s
  8. 26m 54s
    1. Understanding layer styles
      7m 0s
    2. Creating and using drop shadows
      3m 23s
    3. Creating better bevels
      6m 9s
    4. Simulating metallic textures
      5m 8s
    5. Saving and applying layer styles
      2m 48s
    6. Turning layer styles into independent layers
      2m 26s
  9. 50m 23s
    1. Starting with a wireframe
      54s
    2. Organizing page structure
      2m 29s
    3. Adding master elements
      5m 37s
    4. Creating navigation
      4m 36s
    5. Working with photographs
      4m 0s
    6. Working with text
      8m 31s
    7. Creating media placeholders
      7m 22s
    8. Creating buttons
      7m 15s
    9. Creating form fields
      7m 54s
    10. Simulating pages with layer comps
      1m 45s
  10. 33m 38s
    1. Understanding slicing
      2m 4s
    2. Slicing up a mockup
      4m 15s
    3. Understanding web file formats
      4m 3s
    4. Exploring the Save for Web dialog
      5m 3s
    5. Optimizing photographs
      4m 17s
    6. Optimizing transparent graphics
      4m 56s
    7. Saving Retina display graphics
      5m 34s
    8. Using the Image Generator (NEW)
      3m 26s
  11. 10m 40s
    1. Understanding image sprites
      1m 25s
    2. Creating a sprite grid
      2m 54s
    3. Assembling a sprite
      4m 51s
    4. Optimizing sprites for the web
      1m 30s
  12. 18m 6s
    1. Creating a basic action
      5m 28s
    2. Exploring batch processing
      2m 55s
    3. Creating droplets
      3m 20s
    4. Using the Fit Image command
      4m 5s
    5. Using the Image Processor
      2m 18s
  13. 6m 56s
    1. Integrating PSD files with Dreamweaver
      3m 22s
    2. Integrating PSD files with Fireworks
      1m 59s
    3. Integrating PSD files with Muse
      1m 35s
  14. 50s
    1. Goodbye
      50s

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