Photoshop Actions22 July 2019
Photoshop actions are a really amazing feature in Adobe Photoshop. I have neglected my blog for a while, so it is time to write another photo retouching tip using Photoshop. As a professional photo editor, there are times when I am inundated with work, and my retouching clients expect a quick turnaround. Most photo retouchers when faced with time constraints, outsource their images to other reputable retouchers. This can help with your retouching workload, but in my experience it can sometimes also hinder the process. I have some clients with very specific photo editing requirements. After working with them for many years, I have fine tuned each of these clients retouching requirements, delivering the photos they want. This can be quite difficult to explain to a photo retoucher that has never done work for this particular client before.
So apart from the obvious outsourcing my more basic retouching work when I cannot keep up with the workload, my other method for keeping up with tight deadlines is being more productive with my workflow.
This is where the Photoshop Actions(s) can help a lot. If you google “photoshop actions” you will find a lot of ready made actions available, for example Graphic River is a great resource for purchasing photoshop actions (these are mostly for creative photo retouching like toning a photo). What I want to talk about is actions that speed up your workflow, the actions that you create for your specific editing needs. Are you aware that you can record and create your own photoshop actions? And if used properly can save you tons of time.
Sometimes the most mundane and repetitive photo retouching tasks are the ones that are the most basic, for example removing and replacing a background in a photo. Imagine if you have 300 photos that need the background changed to white. Unfortunately usually there is no easy way of masking the images, the magnetic lasso tool (or the wand tool) does not always do a perfect job, so they need to be masked by hand with the pen tool. This is definitely a job that I outsource if I do not have the time to create paths for vector masks. There are amazing retouching teams dedicated specifically to masking images (quite often called clipping images). I ask them to take the 300 images and send them back with a path. You might ask why not send them as a PNG or a jpeg with a white background.
My reason being is the client might want specific backgrounds for some of the images, which I need to add at a later date. I also get to review the retouches before I send them.
Photoshop has a built in tool to record your actions, this is fantastic if you have to repeat the same process on a batch of photos. Here is an action I created to speed up the background change. It is played in real time:
It is on a continuous loop, but you get the idea of how fast the action is.
Below is a video I recorded of me creating this action, the video end with with me resetting the photo and then playing the action:
Here is a breakdown of how to record and create a photoshop action:
- Firstly open the image.
- Ensure you have your actions tab open, click window on the top bar and tick “actions” to activate it if it is not open.
- Move you mouse to the top right tab (that is where my “actions” tab is situated) and click on the dropdown.
- This will open a box, click “new action”. You will then be prompted to give this action a name.
- You will see a red record button appear, go ahead and click it, this will start the recording process.
- Duplicate the layer and change the bottom layer to white in colour.
- Click on the path, highlight the path with the pen tool so it is active and right click “create vector mask”. You will see the background turn to white.
- Lastly save the image in whatever format you want, I chose PSD as I want to be able to edit the image in the future.
- click stop recording.
You now have your first action, recorded and save to be used over and over again. I finished off the video, by going to the history panel and reverting the image to when it was first opened. I then clicked play on my newly recorded action and watched the process, confirming that the action was working properly.
This photo retouching tips photoshop is just a very basic introduction to photoshop actions. If you know are looking at a “BULK RETOUCH JOB” which could take days or weeks to complete. It might be worthwhile spending some time looking at your retouching process to see if there will be a part (or all of it) that is exactly the same for each photo. If this is the case it might be worthwhile creating your very own photoshop action which will save you a ton of time. You can then pass on your savings to your client by reducing your fees, keeping you competitively priced and fully booked with photo retouching projects.
The internet is a fantastic resource, head over to Google and search for tips and video tutorials on whatever aspect of photoshop you have not yet mastered.