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Actions in Adobe Photoshop

Lesson 2 of 7

Create a Desaturate Edges Action

Ben Willmore

Actions in Adobe Photoshop

Ben Willmore

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Lesson Info

2. Create a Desaturate Edges Action

Lesson Info

Create a Desaturate Edges Action

Now in this image what I'd like to do is make the edges of the picture less colorful than the center of the picture. And therefore you eye might be drawn to the more colorful areas, and therefore drawn to the middle of the image and not the edges. So let's create a brand new action. And I'm gonna call this Desaturate Edges. I'll click Record. And in order to get something to only happen in the edges of the picture, I'm gonna make a selection. So I'm gonna choose the Selection tool. I'm gonna click near the upper-right but a little ways away from the edge. And I'm gonna drag down here. Then, I'll let go. And I'd like the opposite of that, 'cause right now we have the center selected and I'd like the edge. So I'll go to the Select menu, and I'll choose Inverse. Then, I would like the edge of my selection have a soft edge on it. One way of getting the soft edge is to go to the Select menu and choose Modify, and then choose Feather. The problem with that is there's no preview. So you're re...

ally guessing at what number to use. The second method you could use is to go here to Select and Mask. There's all sorts of settings in Select and Mask and can ignore all of them except for this one down here called Feather. And if you brought that up, you should be able to start seeing a softer and softer edge. Like that. And then click OK. So now we have the outer edge of the photograph selected and it has a soft edge. The next thing I would like to do is create an adjustment layer. And the adjustment layer I'd like to use is called Vibrance. Vibrance gives you two sliders, the same two sliders we have for controlling how colorful things are when we're using Adobe Camera Raw. And in this case I'm gonna lower the Vibrance to make the edge of the picture less colorful. Finally, so I can remember why I have that layer, I'm gonna rename the layer. I'll double-click in the layer's name and I'll just call this Desaturate Edges. And that's all I want this action to do. So now at the bottom of the Actions panel, I'm gonna hit the Stop button. And now let's inspect this to see if it's gonna be universally applicable. We start at the top. Here it says Set Selection. I'm gonna open that up and I see that this selection is measured in pixels. And so that means the top edge of the selection would be 116 pixels below the top of the document. It'll 136 pixels from the left edge of the document. And the bottom will be this far from the top and the left edge. That's not gonna work for any file size. What if I have a square document? If it tries to make a selection of that size, it's not gonna be a square selection. So I need to replace this step in my action with something that universally applicable. And so let see if we can figure out what that is. First, there's no way for me to convert this step in anything other than pixels, so I'm gonna have to replace it. To replace a step in the action, all you need to do is click on the step within the action, and then at the bottom of the Actions panel, you'll end up hitting Record. But before I do that, let's figure out how we're going to improve that step. Well, the measurement system that's used for making selections when creating actions is whatever your rulers are set to. So if I come up here to the View menu and I turn my Rulers on, I can see what they're set to. And just looking at the numbers, I can tell they're not inches, they gotta be pixels 'cause they're going up to 1,800. You can change that measurement system when the rulers are visible by right-clicking within the ruler. And if you look at the list of choices that are available, I see one choice that will end up making this work, regardless of the size of the original document, and that is Percent. When I choose percentage, now it's gonna think what percentage of the full width of the document did I move over before I clicked and what percentage of the full height of the document did I move down when I clicked. So now let's record a new step. With the step I'd like to replace selected, I'm gonna hit the Record button. Then, I'll use the Marquee tool. And I'll go up here to where I'd like my selection to begin. And I'll drag down here to where I'd like it to end. And I'll let go. It just created a new step. The step appears directly below the step that I had selected. And I'll then hit the Stop button. Let's expand that step and see if it's any better. Yeah. Now it means I was 5% below the top edge of the document and I was 8.2% of width over. And then here's how far I was over when I ended and how far down and right. So now I'm gonna just click on the step that came before that, the one that's measured in pixels, and I'll drag it to the trash can. Then let's look at of the other steps to see if they'd mess us up. Inverse, that's not specific to the document. Select and Mask. Well, the amount of feathering, I might need to be different on each picture because if I have a tiny image, let's say I have an image that's only one inch wide, then I created this action on an inch that was 30 inches wide, the amount of feathering that I dial in might need to vary depending on the document. And I'm not able to set feathering as a percentage. So therefore it can't just vary like the selection. But what I can do is if you look at this step in my action, there's a little rectangle to the left, right over there. And if I turn that on by clicking on it, that means when it gets to the step, ask me for a setting, which means bring up the actual interface for what was being used here so I can choose that myself. And that's what that means. Let's go to the next one down. In here it says that we're gonna use an adjustment layer called Vibrance. Next one down, and we're setting the Vibrance to negative 49. And, okay, we're making something visible. And then we're naming the layer. But none of these told me the names of specific layers, it's like it was trying to switch to a particular layer. So I think this would be nice. The only other thing I might wanna do is here where it's setting the Vibrance to negative 49, I could click right there and that would make it so every time I could manually dial in how much I wanna lessen it. So I think that's what I'm gonna do. Let's test this action. I'm gonna click on its name. And first I'm gonna get this image back to its original by choosing Revert. And then I'm play the action by hitting the Play button. And it gets to the point where I need to feather. And here I can just adjust it. If this was a smaller image, I could use a lower setting. I just click OK and it should continue the action. And right away it asked me what kind of Vibrance setting I want. Cool, click OK. And hit Finish. So that action works fine.

Class Description


  • Automate a wide variety of multi-step techniques
  • Apply an Action to hundreds of images using the Batch command
  • Use subroutines to incorporate a set of steps into multiple actions
  • Utilize Conditionals to change the course of an action based on the unique characteristic of a layer
  • Troubleshoot existing actions


  • Beginner, intermediate, and advanced users of Adobe Photoshop.
  • Those who want to gain confidence in Adobe Photoshop and learn new features to help edit photos.
  • Students who’d like to take ordinary images and make them look extraordinary with some image editing or Photoshop fixes.


Adobe Photoshop 2020 (V21)


Danna Chiasson

Good stuff ... learned some valuable tips ... thanks !