Photoshop Actions Tutorial

How to create and use Actions in Photoshop to save time and trouble?

Some days ago I had a lot of Photoshop work to do. I was about to release a huge beachwear pack and I had to set up about 30 vendor pics. Creating the first 2-3 vendor pics was fun but the rest of them felt like kind of assembly line work. I had to do the same steps over and over again and that usually gets more and more boring and annoying the more often you repeat the work steps. And then in the middle of my working progress I thought of the Photoshop Actions. I came across a tutorial about PS Actions by chance a few months ago but I just glanced over it and didn’t feel like dealing with that topic. I had the impression that using Actions are complicated, not worthwhile and that I would never be in the need of Actions anyway… That was the wrong conclusion as it turned out recently. And it is neither difficult nor time-consuming and today I regret that I never tried it out.

Anyway…I was sick of repeating the same work steps again and again and so I did some google research about PS Actions, found some simple tutorials and tried them out by myself. And about 1 hour later I was able to apply my gained knowledge to the vendor pic work. I was so happy as I tried it out and realized that it really worked. Usually it would have taken me about 2 or 3 hours to finish my vendor pics. Using Actions it took me half of the time.

Actions are very useful if you want to perform a task on a group of images. Without using Actions you have to repeat the same steps over and over on every single image. The cool thing by using Actions is that you only have to do the wanted step once and with one single click per image this task is applied to the other images as well! And due to the time saving factor and that I’m so happy now with my new discovery I want to show you here with this tutorial how PS Actions work. But I explicitly have to say that I’m not an expert. I just want to show you what I know so far about using actions. Well, let’s start!  

Step 1:

The starting situation: I have 10 beachwear images and 1 background image open in PS. What I want is to duplicate all these 10 beachwear images (of course without the blue background) to the new background image by using Actions.
PS Actions Tutorial Step1

You’ll usually find the Actions palette next to the History palette. If not, you’ll get it by clicking Window – Actions (or Alt+F9).
PS Actions Tutorial Step2

Step 2:

Now we want to create a new Action. Click this little box (create new Action)  in the Action palette as shown on the picture below:
PS Actions Tutorial Step3

A “New Action” box appears. If you want you can name your Action here and also you can create a shortcut for this Action. In this case my Action is called “Action 1” and I didn’t want to create a shortcut.

PS Actions Tutorial Step4

Now click “Record”.
PS Actions Tutorial Step5

So what happened now?  “Action 1” appears in the Actions palette now and there’s a small red dot marked showing you that you are recording an Action at the moment.
PS Actions Tutorial Step6

Step 3:

Now we start recording an Action. By clicking the “Record” Button the recording begins, that’s what we already have done.

We are starting with one of the beachwear pics (in this case let’s call it Bikini-Jamie) so make sure this pic you want to edit is on the foreground (just click it). Double-click it’s Background Layer (or right-click and choose Layer from Background) and click OK. By doing this we created a Layer from the background so we can edit that layer.
PS Actions Tutorial Step7

Step 4:

Click the blue background by using the Magic Wand Tool. I clicked somewhere near the left corner of the image. The thing is that PS doesn’t remember that you clicked the blue background, PS only remembers the location. So make sure that on the spot you clicked there is a blue background too on the other Bikini-Jamies. PS Actions Tutorial Step8

Step 5:

Choose Select – Similar. Everything that’s blue must be selected now.
PS Actions Tutorial Step9

Press the delete key on your keyboard. The blue background is gone.
PS Actions Tutorial Step10

Step 6:

Right-click the layer and choose “Duplicate Layer”.
PS Actions Tutorial Step11

 Then choose a destination where you want to duplicate the image and click OK. In this case the destination is called  Background.psd, because we want Bikini-Jamie on the already prepared Backround.
PS Actions Tutorial Step12

Tadaaa!!! Bikini-Jamie is now on her right place.
PS Actions Tutorial Step13

Then we close the old Bikini-Jamie file and we don’t want to save changes.
PS Actions Tutorial Step14

These were the steps we want to apply to the other Bikini-Jamies as well. So we stop the recording by clicking the little “stop recording” box.
PS Actions Tutorial Step15

Step 7:

Now here comes the fun part! Choose the next Bikini-Jamie image now, click the just created “Action 1” in the Action palette and click the “Play selection” arrow.
PS Actions Tutorial Step16

You just have to click this arrow once and all work steps we have recorded are applied now to that image. And that’s what we do now with the other Bikini-Jamies. All you have to do is to click the play button until all Bikini Jamies are on the Background.
PS Actions Tutorial Step17

Then you just have to place the Bikini-Jamies where you want, maybe delete some you don’t want and in no time you have something like this (I know it’s not a blockbuster but it’s ok for this tutorial):
PS Actions Tutorial Step18

Yay! That’s it!

Now I’m gonna show you what else we can do with Actions. So let’s start all over again with:

Step 1:

The starting situation: We finished 4 Bikini-Jamie vendor pics and saved them as .psd (Photoshop format). We want to change the image size from all of them and then save them for web (as .jpeg) by using PS Actions again.

So now we open the 4 Bikini-Jamies.
PS Actions Tutorial Step19

And then we create a new Action as already shown above.
PS Actions Tutorial Step22
PS Actions Tutorial Step23

By shortcut Alt+Ctrl+I (or Image – Image size) we open the image size box. In this case it’s 512 x 512 pixels.
PS Actions Tutorial Step20

But we want the pics to be smaller, so we say 300 x 300 and then OK.
PS Actions Tutorial Step25

Step 2:

Now we are content with the image size and want to save it. Go to File – Save for Web.
PS Actions Tutorial Step26

For a high quality pic we choose JPEG and Maximum and then we click Save.
PS Actions Tutorial Step27

Then you choose a folder where you want to save it (the other Bikini-Jamies will be saved in this folder too) and close it (all as shown above).

That’s what we want to do with the remaining Bikini-Jamies too. So we stop recording.
PS Actions Tutorial Step28

Step 3:

Now we apply this Action to the other Bikini-Jamies by using the “Play Selection” arrow.
PS Actions Tutorial Step29

Click… Click… Click… finished!

Let’s check if everything worked:
PS Actions Tutorial Step30

Yeah! All images saved!

If you want you can delete your Action now by clicking the little trash basket.
PS Actions Tutorial Step21

That’s all I know about PS Actions so far. I hope you are able to make use of it 🙂

Yours, Jamie Holmer


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