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Photoshop Actions Tutorial By Gavin Phillips
This tutorial will help you to create and load Photoshop actions, and discusses the benefits of working with creative Photoshop actions, especially for wedding and portrait photographers.
What Is An Action?
A Photoshop action is a set of recorded steps in Photoshop that can then be replayed by simply pressing the play button in the actions palette. Photoshop actions save you the time of manually going through repetitive tasks.
Typical examples of using actions are converting to black and white, resizing images, converting RAW to JPG and saving images for the web. You can run an action on one photo at a time, or batch process dozens or thousands of images while you do something else.
Creative actions produce beautiful tones, or other elegant imagery by combining many sophisticated techniques into one action that may contain 20 or more steps. You can run the action on your photo by simply pressing the play button.
The other great advantage of these actions is there is a great amount of flexibility and ways for you to further customize the look of your photograph.
Locating Your Photoshop Actions Palette
If your actions palette is already open in Photoshop, it will be docked with another palette on the right side.
If it is not open, click on window > actions and it will open.
Overview Of Actions Palette
Creating An Action
Select the set of actions you want to add your action to, or create a new set. Press the create new action icon at the bottom of the actions palette.
The new action dialogue box will open.
Name your action and press the record button. The record button becomes active in your actions palette and your new action appears. Photoshop is now recording every step you make.
After you have finished your action, press the stop button.
Loading & Saving Actions
To load actions into Photoshop, click on the tiny button on the right hand side of the actions palette.
The familiar dialogue box opens and you navigate to where you saved the set of actions on your computer. Double-click the set, and they load into the bottom of your action palette.
To save a set of actions, you click on the set of actions you want to save. Once again click the button on the right of the actions palette.
The dialogue box will open again. Save your set to wherever you keep them on your computer. I keep mine in a folder on my desktop.
Actions vs. Plugins
There are dozens of Photoshop plugins available on the market. I have several myself. There are several major differences between the two.
Advantages of Actions
Actions are easier to use. Press play, and make one or two changes. Plugins generally have their own complex interface, with different sliders, buttons and settings.
Create your own actions.
There are literally thousands of free actions online and you can easily batch process hundreds of images with actions. To learn from other people who have created actions just open the action in the actions palette, or run the action and look in the history palette to see how the action was made. Plugins generally cost $200 or more. Professionally made sets of actions generally cost far less.
Advantages of Plugins
Plugins are another good creative tool. Most plugins allow you to save your own custom pre-sets. Plugins also offer very complex toning and effects that would be time-consuming to emulate in Photoshop.
Plugins must be installed in Photoshop's plugins folder. Some of them automatically install them in there for you. If you have Photoshop open when you install plugins, you will have to close and re-open it for the plugin to be used. Plugins show up under Photoshop's filter menu. I use two plugins occasionally. I find myself running my favorite actions far more often.
Advantages of my creative actions & Flash movie tutorials
You can create elegant imagery in minutes with my creative actions. I've taken it a step further by adding short Flash movies. Sometimes the movie works in collaboration with an action. The action runs through 10-15 steps, and the movie shows you the next few manual steps required in order to finish the effect.
Other times I use the movies to show you specific techniques in Photoshop, such as applying my custom artistic borders or creating a retouch.
Value of my custom actions/movie tutorial sets
One of the main purposes behind my creative action sets is to free up photographers time and give them more creative ideas. I have invested thousands of hours developing my programs so that you do not have to. At the click of a button, or watching a 3 minute movie, you'll have many more creative options and ways to distinguish yourself from the competition. All this for around $100.
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