Join Deke McClelland for an in-depth discussion in this video Creating an action set, part of Photoshop CS5 One-on-One: Mastery.
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Over the course of this chapter, I am going to be showing you how to record a variety of actions, which are sequences of commands and operations that you find yourself performing on a regular basis inside of Photoshop. So obviously, actions get rid of the tedium. Also, they ensure that that original action that you recorded gets played, step-for-step so nothing is forgotten in the retelling, and then finally, Photoshop can replay an action way faster than you can perform the operations in the first place. So they're terrific automation tools. You can batch process entire folders full of images to, for example, convert a bunch of RGBs over to CMYK, or grayscale, or web graphics, or whathaveyou.
I am working inside the Bridge, looking at the contents of the Original wide format subfolder, found inside the 34 Actions folder. And what I have got here is a series of 15 different images, all of which I captured on that trip to Southern France and processed, to some extent or other, inside the Photoshop. Some of them will be familiar to you from previous chapters; others won't. Now they all have a couple of things in common. They are all Adobe RGB images, with Adobe RGB profiles, and they all subscribe to the exact same pixel dimensions. That said, there is lots of stuff that's different about them.
They all have different resolutions. They contain different metadata, and some of them are layered PSD files; others are flat JPEG files. And we need to make these files as uniform as possible, and so what I want to do is take these images and prepare them for CMYK output, and so I need to create an action to do that. Now what I'd like you to do, just to verify the differences that are going on here, is in the Bridge press Ctrl+K or Command+K on a Mac, and then switch over to the Thumbnails panel, and then make sure that among the Metadata that you see underneath the file name, go ahead and turn on Dimensions.
So we at least need to see the image dimensions. Then click OK. Now I happen to be viewing my images in this vertical filmstrip workspace that I set up in advance and called V-Strip. So I did this many, many chapters ago. You can use any workspace you like, but notice here this, very first image, Arles Amphitheater, has image dimensions of 2360 pixels wide by 1040 pixels tall. That's true for all of these images, for what it's worth, and its resolution is 240 ppi, while the very next Avignon Street has a resolution of 300 ppi, then the next one 300 ppi again, next we have got 240, next we have got 120.
Some of them have resolutions of 100, some 72 ppi, some 96 ppi, ad infinitum, so a bunch of stuff going on here. What we need to do is create an action that makes things uniform. I am going to switch over to Photoshop by clicking on that little boomerang icon. Now I have opened the sample image here is called Pont Saint-Benezet.psd, and it's found inside that same original wide format subfolder. And I want to go ahead and use this image as the guinea pig for my actions. And it's important that we use one of the layered images, by the way, one of the psd images as the guinea pig, because it's got more going on than the flat jpg images, and it'd be very easy, for example, to forget that we need to flatten the image if we are working from a flat image in the first place.
All right so, let's see how we make an action, just how we get one made in the first place. First thing you do as you bring up the Actions panel. So go to the Window menu and choose the Actions command, or you can press the F9 key, and notice what you are going to see here inside the Actions panel. You may see more action sets in this, but you will at least see Default Action. So this folder is the actions set, and then an action set contains a bunch of different action. So all these other items listed below are the actions themselves.
I have to say, this default set that's included along with Photoshop is a pretty rough-and-tumble set. I don't really think all that much of it. If you want to try out some of these actions, you are certainly welcome to do so. I will go ahead and click on the top layer inside the Layers panel, which is called sky, just because otherwise we are going to get weird results under some of these actions. A couple of them require that you have Selection set up in the first place, such as a Vignette and Make Clip Path. Others are designed to work with type, the ones that say type in parentheses, for example. We have got just weird actions here, like Molten Lead. And if I go ahead and click on it and then play it, then it turns the image into molten lead.
I guess, really what it does is it just makes this random molten lead pattern on top of all the other layers. So it doesn't hurt anything, but it doesn't necessarily make our lives any easier, that's for sure. Now if you switch over to the History panel, you are going to see everything that happened, all the steps that were associated with this wacky effect here, because if you are working on with me, then the only state that was there, on your behalf, was the open state. Everything else, all these other operations, were created by the action, including New layer, Fill, Clouds and all this other garbage. Also, it went ahead and created a snapshot. This is something a lot of the actions do, and it's a pretty good idea, and we will come back to this, because that means if I didn't get around to saving my image before I played back the action, then I might have pretty hopelessly messed things up because I would be hard pressed to figure out, when I go back to the History panel, exactly where the action started.
So you just click on that snapshot, and then you are back in business, because that saves the image as it existed before the action transpired. So that's kind of a nice thing. You can try out some these other guys as well, if you want to. What we are going to do though, is we are going to make a new action, and here is how you do that. First of all, you have got to make an action set in which to house your action, and you don't add your action to the Default Actions, believe me, because it will just get lost in the shuffle, and these guys are for beans, frankly. I am going to go ahead and twirl this folder closed, and I am going to drop down to the bottom of the Actions panel and click on this little folder that says Create New Set. And that's the way to go. And also, by the way, your actions have been the organized into sets if you want them to be mobile, if you want to move them to a different system, if you want to share them with friends, if you want to switch them between the Mac and a PC, and so on.
So go ahead and click on that New Set icon right there, the little folder icon. And let's go ahead and call his Productivity, and you can call it anything you want later, but for now this is a good name for it, because these are some practical actions. Click OK, and now we are going to create the action itself. Now you can't just start recording an action. Notice that the circular record button is not available to me right now; instead, you need to make an action in the first place, and I will show you how to do that in the next exercise.
Recommended prerequisites: Photoshop CS5 One-on-One: Fundamentals and Photoshop CS5 One-on-One: Advanced.
- Using masks and blend modes in radically new ways
- Mastering the Pen tool and Paths panel
- Transforming and maximizing Smart Objects
- Employing Smart Filters to create complex effects
- Exploring the capabilities of Bristle brushes and the Mixer Brush
- Merging multiple images into seamless panoramas
- Exploring the full range of luminance with HDR Pro
- Recording actions and batching-processing images