Join Justin Seeley for an in-depth discussion in this video Creating a basic action, part of Photoshop CS6 for Web Design (2012).
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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.
- Customizing a web workspace
- Decoding the mysteries behind screen size and resolution
- Coloring web graphics
- Using layers and layer comps effectively
- Working with transparency
- Creating wireframes on a grid
- Styling text
- Creating image sprites
- Optimizing images as JPEG, GIF, or PNG files
- Integrating with the rest of the Adobe Creative Suite