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How to do Photoshop actions

In this beginner's tutorial I'm going to show you how to do Photoshop actions. Photoshop actions are the best way to save time and to automate processes when you work on your Photoshop projects. We will go trough all the basic steps of creation and executing Photoshop actions. Now start your Photoshop (if you haven't done yet) and lets see how to do some Photoshop actions.

1. Locate the Actions panel


The first thing in this How To Do Photoshop Actions tutorial is to find where the actions palette is situated in the Photoshop workspace. If it is not visible at this time, in the main menu go to: Window > Actions. Now the actions panel will be visible and will look like the screenshot on the left.

If you don't have any defined actions yet, you will probably see only the "Default Actions" set.

Photoshop Actions Sets are just a way to group your actions as you see fit. To create a new set just click on the small folder icon at the bottom of the actions panel and give your new set a descriptive name.

Now is the time to mention that when you import or export actions, it is the whole set rather than just a single action.

OK. Let's move on with the How to do Photoshop actions tutorial...

2. Creating a new action


Before we can start recording our sequence of events we have to create a new action. Click on the small square icon on the right of the set icon. Now you must type a name for your new action, choose the set in which it will be included and if you want, you can assign a short keys to execute it. For this tutorial I'll make one easy Retro Photo Effect and I'll include it in My Actions set.

Now it's time to push the Record button.

3. Recording the action

To begin recording our sequence of events we have to click on the record icon (the little circle at the bottom of the action panel) and to start doing our Retro Photo Effect.

4. Doing the stuff


Here are the effects and the adjustments that I recorded for this How To Do Photoshop Actions tutorial.

Flatten Image - I start with this event, because sometimes the action will be applied to multilayer projects and the action will affect only the current active layer.

Photo Filter - the settings for the photo filter are: Warming filter (85), Density: 25%, Preserve Luminosity.

Add Noise - Distribution: Gaussian, Percent: 5%, With Monochromatic.

Blur - a simple Filter > Blur effect

Equalize - Image > Adjustments > Equalize

Color Balance - Shadow levels: -1, -26, 13 Midtone levels: -31, 32, -82 Highlight levels: 0, 0, 0 With Preserve Luminosity.

These are all the effects and adjustments for my Retro Photo Effect.

When all the required sequences for our action are recorded, just press the stop button (the square icon at the bottom of the actions panel) and Photoshop will stop the recording of events. If it's necessary you can go back to some state and record some additional events.

At this point, our beginner's How To Do Photoshop Actions tutorial is completed. You can open any image and apply this action for our simple Retro Photo Effect.

But that's not all...

Some of the actions that I'm using require user input at some point of the action sequence. This means that at given point the action stops and asks the user to input some data or to change some settings and just after that the sequence will continue.

5. Setting Toggle Dialogs


Let's say that we want to change the Photo Filter settings when we are running our action. We can do this by selecting the Dialog icon in front of the Photo Filter in our Actions panel. This will tell Photoshop to stop the action at this point, open the Photo Filter's settings window and just when the user selects the desired settings and click Apply or OK, the action will continue to run.

6. Test and Refine your Actions

For more complex actions it is almost sure that it wont work right from the first attempt. You can change, delete or add different steps in the sequence to adjust your action's appearance. Like everything else the more you do it, the better the results will be.

I hope you will find this How To Do Photoshop Actions tutorial helpful for you.

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