We write down the action to create a collage in Photoshop

In this tutorial, I will show you how to create a simple effect for a photo using Photoshop actions. First, we will mute the background, then add rectangles in which the color will be brighter. Every step we write to the action and can use it for other photos.

At the end of the lesson, I will also explain how you can automate future action games with JavaScript.

Envato Market has many photo masks similar to this effect.

Final result

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1. Cooking background

Step 1

First select a photo to work with. For the lesson, I found a stock photo from the Envato Market.

Step 2

Let’s start creating an action. Place it in a separate folder to avoid confusion. Open the panel Operations (Actions) by clicking F9, and click on the icon New set (New Set). Enter a name, click OK. We will place the action inside this folder.

Step 3

Choose an icon New operation (New Action) and name it Muffle the background. Click the button Record (Record) to start saving your steps in photoshop. From now on, watch the panel carefully. Operations (Actions). We do not need a cluttered algorithm in which a bunch of extra steps.

Step 4

Click on the icon Create a new adjustment layer (Add Adjustment Layer), then select Levels (Levels).

Step 5

Drag the black slider Output values (Output Levels) right. This will muffle the image and give us space to apply the effect.

Please note that both of your actions are recorded on the panel. Operations (Actions). The first part is ready. Press the button Stop recording (Stop) at the bottom of the panel Operations (Actions), interrupting the recording process.

2. Create a frame

Step 1

Let’s continue and add the next step. We need to create a rectangular shape, returning a piece of the original image. Back to the panel again Operations (Actions), then click on the icon New operation (New Action).

Step 2

Choose a tool Rectangle(Rectangle Tool). Use mode Figure (Shape) with black color Fillings (Fill).

Click and drag the cursor to create a rectangle.

You will see that action Make a layer fill (Make fill layer) added to the current action.

Step 3

Double click on the layer with the rectangle and set Blend mode (Blend Mode): Screen (Screen) and Translucent (Knockout): Deep (Deep). With deep translucency, the layer will manifest through the rest of the contents, thereby showing Background layer.

Step 4

Without pressing the OK button, add Stroke (Stroke). In this tutorial I use white stroke size 20 px. If you have a smaller image, you need to use a smaller stroke size.

Step 5

We will continue by adding Shadow (Drop Shadow) to the layer with the shape. The shadow can be dragged directly into the document, without touching the sliders and settings. When you are satisfied with the result, click OK.

Everything you just did — changing the blend mode and adding layer styles — was recorded as one action step.

Step 6

Click Ctrl + T, to transform the active layer with a rectangle. Click and drag the cursor outside the shape, turning it. Click and drag inside to reposition. This action will also be recorded as one step action.

Step 7

The second item is ready. Press the button Stop recording (Stop).

Step 8

Let’s add the launch of each action on the button for faster work. Double click on action Muffle the background and install Function key (Function Key): F2.

Step 9

Create another keyboard shortcut for another action. In our case, I use F3.

3. Apply action

Step 1

Let’s check the newly created action. First you need to return the photo to its original form. Go to menu File> Restore (File> Revert) or click F12.

Step 2

Choose the first action Muffle the background, on the panel Operations (Actions), then click on the icon Perform active operation (Play). Since we set the hotkey, you can just press F2.

The tone of the photo is now muted.

Step 3

Run the next action to create a shape. Select it, then click Perform active operation (Play) or click F3.

Step 4

To create the next figure, we need to restart the action. At the moment, the rectangle will automatically turn to the same angle and will be placed in the same position. Obviously, we do not need it. We want to independently regulate the situation. Click on the icon Set or cancel opening dialog box (Modal control) for step Transform current layer (Transform current layer) for Photoshop to wait for your actions.

Step 5

Now rerun the action by clicking on the icon. Run (Play). Photoshop will pause the transformation and will wait for you. Move or rotate the shape, and then click Enter.

Step 6

Start the action again using the icon or key F3.

Here is my result after adding other rectangles with the same action. At this point, we’ve finished, and you can already use it to add effect to your photos. However, further we will go deep into the advanced settings. Continue reading if you want to modify the action or speed up its work using scripts. If you are satisfied with the current result, you can stop.

4. Adjust the action

Step 1

We can get the same effect for another photo. Here is a snapshot of the tourist center in Odessa.

Just click F2, to drown out the background and then several times F3, adding shapes.

Step 2

You can skip the step inside the action by clicking on the checkmark icon. If there is no check mark, the step will not be executed. Here we will miss Transform current layer (Transform current layer).

Step 3

Let’s say we want a different stroke color. We need to edit this step by selecting it and clicking Record again (Record Again) or double clicking on it.

Step 4

A window will open Layer style (Layer Style). In section Stroke (Stroke) change Colour (Color) to black.

Step 5

Make sure that Blend mode (Blend Mode) is set to Screen (Screen), and Translucent (Knockout) Deep (Deep). Otherwise, Photoshop uses the default settings – Normal (Normal) and Do not show (None). Click OK, to save the settings and automatically stop recording.

Step 6

If necessary, you can slow down each step. Click on Playback options (Playback Options) and select Step by step (Step by Step).

Step 7

Run the action to check the result. As you can see in the screenshot below, the rectangles now have a black stroke.

5. We loop the action with javascript

Step 1

For this photo effect, we have to manually repeat the second action. In programming languages, this is called a “cycle.” In fact, we can automate the process using the Photoshop scripting language.

Yes, Photoshop also has scripts. Open any text editor and enter the following line of code.

  • app.doAction (“Mute Background”, “My Actions”);

This will tell Photoshop to launch an action called Mute Background from the set Myactions.

To launch the second action, enter the following line.

  • app.doAction (“Add Photo Shape”, “My Actions”);

Note translator: You have these names may be completely different, it all depends on what they were in the first part of the lesson.

Step 2

Save the text in a javascript file with the extension * .jsx. Open Photoshop, go to menu File> Scenarios > Overview (File> Scripts> Browse), then find your script and check its performance.

Step 3

Let’s add a loop for the second action, replacing the second line with the following code.

  • var repeat = true;
  • while (repeat) {
  • app.doAction (“Add Photo Shape”, “My Actions”);
  • }

These lines will instruct Photoshop to continue playing. Add Photo Shape from the set My actions.

Step 4

Photoshop will continue to play this action infinitely as a variable repeat is always true (true). Now we need to ask the user whether he wants to repeat the action or not. Add the following line inside the loop while.

  • repeat = confirm (“Add another box?”);

Step 5

We are done. Let’s run our script. Go to menu File> Scenarios > Overview (File> Scripts> Browse) and in the window that opens, locate the file you just created.

Step 6

Both actions will start. After the shape is transformed, a dialog box appears that asks if the user wants to add another shape or stop at this number. If the answer is Yes, another rectangle appears.

Step 7

If the user selects Not, action will stop work.

findings

We are done. I believe that you could find a lot of useful things for yourself in this lesson. We learned how to automate the workflow using action games, and also got a general idea about writing scripts for Photoshop. I hope you can use these techniques to work faster. Thank you for reading.

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