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In the all-new Photoshop CS5 One-on-One: Mastery, the third and final installment of the popular series, join industry expert and award-winning author Deke McClelland for an in-depth tour of the most powerful and empowering features of Photoshop CS5. Discover the vast possibilities of traditional tools, such as masking and blend modes, and then delve into Smart Objects, Photomerge, as well as the new Puppet Warp, Mixer Brush, and HDR features. Exercise files accompany the course.
Recommended prerequisites: Photoshop CS5 One-on-One: Fundamentals and Photoshop CS5 One-on-One: Advanced.
In this exercise, I'm going to show you how to pause the playback of an action by adding a custom stop. The idea behind the custom stop is it either provides an alert message to the user so that they know how your action works, or it just goes ahead and stops the playback temporarily and instructs them to go ahead and perform a manual step that the action can't accommodate. So imagine for a moment that you've created a series of actions for me, and I work for you. I'm not the most proficient Photoshop user. I'm just doing what you tell me to do.
You feed me a bunch of these images here, and I've got to play back this action. So you want to make sure everything is clear. Anyway, you give me this image here that you shot, and it's called Vertical garden.psd. It's this Vertical garden that's growing on the side of a grocery store wall in Avignon. It features these rich, lustrous emerald greens, and I'm thinking these are awesome colors. They're going to come out great when we print this image. So I'll go ahead and play back the action.
Midway into the action, I go, holy smokes! What happen to those greens? They've gone from being these wonderful emerald greens to being sort of this massive algae here. What is this Fade dialog box? Mode, Luminosity. That can be good. That's got to be the thing that ruined the image. I'll choose something else. Ah, no, I don't know what to choose. This is horrible. I'm going to choose Overlay, because it sounds nice. I could mess with the Opacity value, whatever. Then I get so scared I just click Cancel, and I end up getting this even worse effect here, where I've got these aberrant colors all over the image.
Well, we want to make sure that doesn't happen. So we should add a step that explains what that Fade dialog box even means. So I'm going to press the F12 key, in order to revert the image back to its original, gloriously emerald appearance there. I'm going to add a stop right after Smart Sharpen, so before Fade. That's very important. You can always change the order of your steps, by the way. If you decide something is in wrong order, you can just drag it around, like so. But when possible, you might as well put the steps in the right order in the first place.
So I'll click on Smart Sharpen to make it active. Then I'll go up to the Actions panel flyout menu. I'll choose Insert Stop. I've gone ahead and created some text in advance here. So I'll press Ctrl+V or Command+V on a Mac. The text says, "In the next step, you'll have the option to adjust the sharpness setting. Click Continue and then adjust the Opacity value. To best gauge your settings, zoom the image to 50%." Well, this is a fairly comical message to put up onscreen. It's accurate. The problem is that if someone doesn't understand the Fade command to deal with it on their own, then this message probably isn't going to make all that much sense.
It's going to bring up an alert message. You're going to either have the option to click Continue or Stop, which would be even worse. But that is the extent of your options, when you're working with Actions inside of Photoshop. You can't create a little animation that helps them use the feature, or anything along those lines. You just have to describe it as best you can. So the next thing you want to do is turn on the Allow Continue check box, because otherwise, it will bring up an alert message, and there will be one and only one button: Stop, which when clicked, will stop the action and require the user to restart playback.
That would be more confusing than ever. So we definitely need a Continue button to move on. Then click OK. Now let's see what that looks like. I'll go ahead and click on the action name once again to select it. I've reverted my image, so it's ready to go. I'll click the Play button, down here the bottom of the Actions panel. The action plays back. I get these sort of strange algae colors once again. Now I see this message that says, "In the next step, you'll have the option to adjust the sharpness setting. Click Continue and then adjust the Opacity value. To best gauge your settings, zoom the image to 50%." Now we would hope that somebody reading this message would read it carefully and basically grok what's going on, sort of understand the meaning of the message.
Of course, you know from experience. You're presented with these kinds of messages from software on a regular basis and you spend most of your time ignoring them, if you're anything like me, anyway. But still you hope other people do otherwise, and that they say, ah, okay, I'm ready and they click the Continue button. That's unlikely, but still, that's what we're hoping. Then they would look at the Fade value and they'd say, you know what, that alert message just a moment ago is right. What I should really do here is just takes the Opacity value down a little bit. I think I'll take it down to 35%.
I'll leave Mode set to Luminosity. I'll click the OK button in order to apply my action. Anyway, that's how stops work. You can tell I don't think much of them, because I don't really think people pay much attention to them. But that is your one and only tool for communicating with somebody who is using your action here inside Photoshop.
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