Actions and Beyond
There're all sorts other things we can do with Actions than automation. We're literally just scratching the surface. Let me just show you one other 'cause I think it's kind of a cool concept. One of the problems with making Actions is often times I need to put in a stop that tells somebody to select the important part of their image, like select the subject of your picture. Because an Action, it can't look at this and know what the picture's of. How's it supposed to select an Action when all we're doing is we have the normal selection tools, and how're we supposed to get that thing selected? Well, know that in a recent version of Photoshop they added a command. It's found under the Select menu, and it's just called Subject, and I think it's pretty cool for Actions, because when I tell it to select the subject, and I've never tested it on this image, but we'll see. It might take it a teeny bit of time to analyze that picture, but look at what it just did. So, what if my Action was to ge...
t it to do that, select inverse to get the opposite, and make that area black and white? Suddenly my subject is on a black and white background, correct? And if I were to do that, using adjustment layers, then this selection would get converted into what's known as a mask, and therefore they could fine tune it later, because Select Subject is not always this good. If you give it a simple blue sky, sure. But give it a tree and something else behind it, and it might be approximate. But what if in your Action it could actually select the subject in your photograph, and then do something like blur the background or something like that, and just at the last step of the Action insert a stop, and tell it hey, now paint with black and white on the mask that's on the resulting layer to fine tune the selection? And then suddenly you can make even more useful Actions. Okay? Now with this, you do need to learn even more about Actions to get good at them because the main thing is troubleshooting and testing. Some of the things to think about, or when you test things, you might wanna come up with five or six different images that are your standard test images. And what I would do with those standard test images is have one that has a background layer. Have one that does not. You know, it has a layer called you know, my special layer. Have one that has a type layer in it that is active when you save it, so that if your Action tries to do something like run a filter, it just might not stop working right there. Have a small image, and have a big image. As a really thing to test it, make one black and white because things that are just color won't be available if you're in Grayscale mode. Okay? So there are all sorts of other things to learn about Actions that are just beyond the scope of this class because this is getting started. It's for beginners with Actions. Know that there is more. There's other stuff you can learn, but those are some of the things you might wanna test. And explore the choices that are found in the side menu of the Actions panel. A few of them we've used. Insert Menu Item for things that are usually skipped. Insert Stop for things that you wanna give instructions on. Conditional. Conditional? With a Conditional you can say, "Apply this Action if it's a horizontal picture, otherwise apply a different Action." You can tell it to go two different directions. Apply this Action if it's in certain color mode, otherwise do the other. Allow Tool Recording. If you ever try to use your paint brush, you're gonna put your signature in there and it just doesn't record it. It skips it. Turn on that option. It'll have a checkbox next to it, and that means it can do that. Anyway there's lots to learn in there. But Actions, I find if you're really gonna be using Photoshop efficiently and often, it's really worth the investment of time to start experimenting and playing with them, but they also can be frustrating. The main frustration for me that I've been bugging Adobe about for decades is the Undo command is ignored. So, if you mess up, you're gonna have undone a step, Undo is not recorded. And then you'll do the correct step. So you have the wrong step still in there. And the other. So therefore you have to go back into your Action and delete the step that needed to be undone. Okay? Anyway, hopefully you'll spend the time to experiment enough with Actions to make them useful.