One of the ways I taught myself to use Photoshop in my photography workflow was just by playing. I’ve had some great results this way, although sometimes it was more by trial and error and that’s how I found out about Photoshop Actions.
Photoshop Actions are just a way to record a series of commands that can be used later. Now at this point I can hear you groan…”What is he on about?
It’s simple really. Look at the image above. To get it right, I’m sure you’ll agree, if you’re a photoshop user, that there’s a lot of work involved. The lightbulb, the reflection, the image inside the bulb. That’s a lot of selecting, masking and cutting out to be done.
Wrong! What if I told you that with one click of the mouse, a bit of drag and drop, and a touch of resizing, you could produce this image in seconds.
That’s what Photoshop Actions do….
Best of all there are loads of them out there, freely available for use. OK I’ll admit that some you have to pay for, but honestly there are plenty of free ones, fulfilling different tasks for Photoshop. Of course you could always do the work yourself and record it as an action. I have some I created myself. One I use a lot, resizes my image to 1024 x 688 pixels, collapses all of the layers, writes the copyright information to the image EXIF data and invokes the SAVE AS command. As this is something I do for every image I publish to the internet and it’s a repetitive task it just makes sense to automate it as a Photoshop Action.
Going back to the image above. The action is to create the lightbulb and the reflection. All I had to do was supply the image to go in the lightbulb and resize it. Now obviously the lightbulb is kind of roundish and my image is kind of square, well more like a rectangle. But with Photoshop Actions you can make a square, sorry rectangle image fit a roundish hole. In this case the action hides (or masks) anything from my rectangular image which strays beyond the confines of the lightbulb.
I can honestly say that the image above took me no longer than one minute to produce.
So where do you get these actions? One source I use is PanosFX. You can get some good free actions there as well as instructions how to use them. There are other sites just do a search in your browser for Photoshop Actions.
I hope this little taster inspires you to go out and give Photoshop Actions a try.