Use actions in Photoshop

Have you ever thought about how to speed up your work in Photoshop? If yes, then you will be interested to learn about action games.

The actions will help you quickly create various effects, from photo processing to creating 3D texts.

In this introductory tutorial, you will learn how to load, configure, and use actions.

Materials for the lesson:

Step 1 – Download Action

Before you learn how to create your own set of actions in Photoshop, try using a ready-made action to understand what effect and how quickly you can achieve. Follow the Photoshop Actions link and download any of the free action games. For the purpose of familiarization, for this lesson I will use a set of actions called “Instant Hipster”.

When downloading an action, you get an ATN or ZXP file (or both). The difference between these files is that:

– ATN files – load the action directly into Photoshop;

– ZXP files – download action via Adobe Extension Manager.

I recommend using the ATN file because it is faster and easier.

Step 2 – How to use the ATN file

After you download the action, locate the ATN file and double click on it.

Open a window in Photoshop Operations (Actions panel) for this go to Window> Operations (Window> Actions).

If you have any difficulties with the automatic loading of the action, then you can add it manually. To do this, you need to click on the mini arrow in the upper right corner of the operations pane – in the submenu, select “Load operations“(Load Actions) – select the folder with the unzipped action.

Step 3 – How to use the ZXP file

Files of type ZXP are not always included in the archive. But if such a file is still in the folder with the action, then it can be installed via Adobe Extension Manager.

Adobe Extension Manager is very useful when working with several add-ons, since they will all be available to you in one place.

The main problem encountered by users who first encountered Adobe Extension Manager is that they cannot find installed operations. The solution is very simple – you must first add actions (action) in Photoshop through the panel Operations (Actions).

Step 4 – Be Careful at Work

Not all Photoshop actions are safe to use!

Before you run the finished set of operations, save the original file with the image separately. Many action games will fill your story with so many operations that you cannot undo them and return to the original document. There are also actions that include such an operation as – Merging layers, which also makes a return to the original image impossible.

Step 5 – Reproduction of a set of operations (action)

Use action is easy! To start an operation, select it in the list and click the button. Perform active operation (Play). After launching a set of actions, you will see on the monitor how Photoshop performs a series of specified operations, give it a little work, and – everything is ready!

The image below shows the result of the Instagram effect creation. Everything was done in one click!

Some actions, for example, Fast skin retouching require additional actions in the process of their application. Directly in the above action, the program invites you to work out a layer mask.

As a rule, in such sets of operations, there are pop-up windows that give you hints on further actions.

Step 6 – Using Button Mode

You can switch the Operations window control to “In the form of buttons“(Button Mode). To do this, click on the mini triangle in the upper right corner of the panel and select the desired item.

The Operations panel contains many additional actions that you can customize. Below is a graph that will help you navigate a little.

  1. Enable (disable) item (Include Command). You can tick off the operations that need to be turned on or off.
  2. Set (cancel) dialog box (Modal Control). The icon indicates whether the dialog will pop up. They can also be turned on and off..
  3. Expand (collapse)operation set (Expand Action). Arrow to expand (minimize) actions specified in the operation.
  4. Buttons (Buttons). From left to right: stop recording an operation, start recording an operation, play the operation, create a new group, create a new operation, delete the operation.
  5. ModeIn the form of buttons“(Button Mode). Change the view of the operations pane.
  6. Advanced Action Playback Options (Playback Options).
  7. Possible actions with operations (Allow Tool Recording). Functions for recording, deleting and other actions with operations.
  8. List of installed actions (Action List)

And in conclusion:

Action games are a great Photoshop tool that can be successfully used by both wizards and beginners.

Spend some time with this functionality and experiment with various ready-made sets of operations that you can find on many paid and free Internet resources!

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