Create a Contour Map Action
This is a technique that I never want to perform manually, and I would only do through inaction because it takes a lot of steps. This is creating a contour map. If you've ever seen an architectural drawing of, ah, piece of land, you know where it's the contours it describes. The various elevations in the land with a line looks a lot like this. Well, I'm creating something like that based on brightness levels were each one of these lines describes where, like 10% gray would be found in the image, and another line might be where 20% gray is and so on. And so this is how there might be a complex technique that you would only dio if you're willing to apply actions. So let's take a look at it. I'm gonna start off with the original color photograph, and the filter I'm gonna end up using to get the effect is filter. Uh, I think it's die allies and then trace contour traced. Contour means trace around where there's a particular shade of gray, and in here there's a choice called level, and you ...
can move it around. It varies from 0 to It'll draw little lines. Well, those lines air, usually in color if you have a color picture and if you want just one line instead of multiple colored ones, what you need to dio is just convert your image to black and white first. So let's look at how we might be able to apply that multiple times and get an interesting look. So I'm gonna go to my actions panel. I'm going to create a new action, and I'm gonna call this contours gonna hit record. And the first thing I want to do is duplicate this layer. So I'm gonna type Command J controlled game windows to get a duplicate. I then want to pull the color out of that duplicate. I'll do it by image adjustments, de saturate. Then I want to simplify this because if I have it truly traced where there's a particular shade of gray in our picture right now, Most of the time those areas are really complex little details. Well, if I simplify the image, it's gonna be a smoother and result one filter that can help me simple find images called median that's filter noise median in the higher I bring it up, the more smooth this end result will be. So it's a matter of figuring out what setting still lets you recognize what's in the picture. And it's kind of go for the highest setting where you can recognize things because the higher the setting, the smoother the end result will look. Now, that's the image I'm going to use multiple times when running the trace contour filter. So what I'm gonna do right now is change the name of that layer because I want to be able to easily switch toe that layer even if we have a whole bunch of layers in this document by just clicking on it. I don't wanna have to use that one keyboard shark it we used earlier. So I'm gonna double click on the layer, and I'm just gonna give it a name that you would never find in another document. Ah, I might call it action. So I know that it's part of an action. I'll call it Action Target Layer number one or something. I doubt I'm gonna open a document that's gonna have a layer called action Target Layer one. I'm just trying to put in a unique name. And therefore it's not gonna matter if I click on that layer with my mouse and in the actions panel. It records the name because I made up the name and I tried to make sure it would be unique or just put a random string of digits. That's long enough, and you probably won't find that in other documents. Now, I'm gonna have to be using that particular information multiple times, So I'm gonna type Command J to duplicate it So I don't mess up the original and then we'll come in here and apply the trace Contour filter, and I'm going to start off with it. Turned down to a relatively low setting like this. I'm gonna click, OK, and then I want to make the layer that's underneath active. Well, I named that layer specifically for this action with a unique name. I don't think it's gonna be found in other documents. I can just click on it and it doesn't matter that here in the layers panel, it has the name of the layer. Well, as long as that layer name is unique, then that should still work. I'm in a type command J and Onion. Apply the filter again, and I'm just gonna turn it up a little bit. Click OK? And then I'm going to repeat that process I'm going to. In fact, there's one other step I should do. And that is I should set each one of these to multiply mode, because multiply mode would have it combined with what's underneath. But I'll do that later. I'm going to click on the layer that's underneath command J to duplicate, And I'm just gonna repeat that process over and over and over again, moving this up a little bit further each time, then clicking the layer that's underneath command J to duplicate and apply the filter again, which the later that's underneath command J to dupe. Okay, just repeat it over and over again, And that's why I never want to do this manually. Or I should say I only want to do this manually once, and this is one of those techniques. I always record its inaction because it's a pain in the butt to do it every time. I'm just repeating the steps, Okay, we'll call that good enough Now what I need to do is get all of those layers that were just created up above. I need to get him all selected now. Those should always have the same names because they're based on that unique name that I signed below. So I could just hold on the shift key and click on, um, those or I could use my keyboard. Remember that doing? I believe it was option in the bracket. Keys would select the layer that is above. And if you have the shift key, it will add it to the what's already selected. So I can type that a few times. There are many different choices we have available there. With all of them selected. I'm gonna change their blending mode to a chase choice called multiply, which will allow them to combine together. And then we don't need them a separate layers. So I'll go the layer menu in just choose merged layers that will combine together the layers that are currently selected. All right, then what I would like to do is to get the color of the original or the lines were currently seen to be the color of the original picture, so I no longer need this grayscale version. it's already served its purpose. It was the source material for each high applied that action or not, the action, the filter And I don't need it anymore. It has a unique name that I made this part of the action so I can just click on it and drag it to the trash. And it's OK that the name of the layers in there next. What I want to do is turn this layer into a selection The way I turn something into a selection if I want to do it based on its brightness is I switched to the channels panel, and if you don't have the channels panel open on your screen, you can find it right up here. And if you go into the channels panel and move your mouse onto the top, most channel the little picture of it, you're gonna hold on the command key and click on it. That's controlling windows that will load the brightness of that image as a selection, yet ends up loading all the areas that are white, which is the exact opposite of what I need. So I'll go to the select menu in Choose Inverse. Now we have a selection of all those little black lines, and all I'm going to do is throw away this layer because it's on Lee Purpose was to create the selection we currently have. So now if I drag it to the trash, we're gonna end up on the layer that contains original picture, not gonna add a layer mask when I add a layer mask on Lee. The areas that I have selected are going to remain visible, so the rest of the picture will go away. And now what we have is all the lines that those filters created are filled with the original color of the picture. Finally, I want to fill in the checkerboard with white, so I'll go to the bottom of my layers panel, click on the Adjustment layer icon and choose solid color. I'm going to choose White, and then I'm gonna move that layer underneath, and I could probably click on it with my mouse to move it underneath. But if I want to be better at it, I could use my keyboard shortcuts and that would be command control on Windows left bracket would move it down. Remember, option changes, which ones active command actually moves a layer. So now I have my end result, and in my actions panel, I can finally hit Stop and now we contested. Let's revert the image. Let's find the top of that action. Let's hit play and you can see our end result. That's an example of a technique where I would never apply that technique without recording an action to create it. But now I can apply that any time. I want Teoh in a matter of seconds, and there are many techniques that are that way that just end up being complex techniques that make it so actions become essential.