Use Photoshop Actions to Improve Your Workflow

Discovering and learning to to use Photoshop actions can dramatically improve your workflow saving you time and the frustration of repeating tedious tasks over and over again. Adobe describes Photoshop actions as the following:

An action is a series of tasks that you play back on a single file or a batch of files—menu commands, panel options, tool actions, and so on. For example, you can create an action that changes the size of an image, applies an effect to the image, and then saves the file in the desired format.
—Adobe.com

I recently found myself with the task of cropping, resizing and adding a reflection to hundreds of cell phone images. Following are the steps I used to automate most of the process using a Photoshop action.

Open Image

The first step is to open one of the images I am creating the action for. The cell phone images I was using were not cropped, so I used the crop tool to crop the image to the edge of the cell phone.

Cell Phone Photoshop Actions Tutorial Image

Create a New Photoshop Action

Next I open my Actions window. It can be found under the Windows menu in Photoshop. I click the small square in the bottom of the window to create a new action. This opens a window where I name the action and designate the action set where I would like the action to be stored. I then press record to begin recording the steps in my action. With the action recording I go ahead and perform all the steps I would like the action to include.

Cell Phone Photoshop Actions Tutorial Image

When I am finished I click the square stop button at the bottom of the Actions window to stop the action recording.

Cell Phone Photoshop Actions Tutorial Image

Now all I have to do to use the action is open an image, select the action in the Actions window and press the play button (little triangle) at the bottom of the Actions window.

Cell Phone Reflection Action in Use

The first thing I needed the action to do was to resize the image to 900 pixels tall at 72dpi. While recording the action I open the Image Size window, changed the dpi to 72 and set the height to 900 pixels making sure that constrain proportions was checked. This is the first step the action will perform when I run it.

Cell Phone Photoshop Actions Tutorial Image

Next I press command-A(MAC) to select all and command-C to copy my selection. After changing the image size my action performs these steps as well.

Cell Phone Photoshop Actions Tutorial Image

I then open the Canvas Size dialog box to add space to the bottom of my image for the reflection.

Cell Phone Photoshop Actions Tutorial Image

Cell Phone Photoshop Actions Tutorial Image

After changing the Canvas Size I paste the image I had previously copied by pressing command-V. This creates a new layer with a copy of the cell phone that I will turn into the reflection.

Cell Phone Photoshop Actions Tutorial Image

I flip the new cell phone image by choosing Flip Vertical under Transform under the Edit menu.

Cell Phone Photoshop Actions Tutorial Image

Cell Phone Photoshop Actions Tutorial Image

Using the Move Tool I move the flipped cell phone image below the original image of the phone. Holding shift while dragging will keep the image aligned vertically.

Cell Phone Photoshop Actions Tutorial Image

Using the Marquee tool I then drag to select the flipped cell phone image.

Cell Phone Photoshop Actions Tutorial Image

Next I select the Gradient tool and choose the Foreground to Transparent preset. When I use this preset on the flipped cell phone image it will make a nice transition from the background color (white) to transparency leaving a nice reflection.

Cell Phone Photoshop Actions Tutorial Image

Cell Phone Photoshop Actions Tutorial Image

The final steps are to Save for Web and close the image. I then press the Stop Playing/Recording button in the Actions window, and my action is ready to use.

Cell Phone Photoshop Actions Tutorial Image

Final Image

Below is the final image on a white background. This is a fairly complicated sequence of steps, but using Photoshop actions I was able to make the whole process much easier. Instead of going through each step for every image I only had to open each image, crop them and then play the Photoshop action. It may take a little extra time initially, but in the end using Photoshop actions can save you a lot of time, something we all could use a little more of.

Cell Phone Photoshop Actions Tutorial Image

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Use Photoshop Actions to Improve Your Workflow by Max Williams is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at www.maxwilliamsdesign.com.
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