Actions that Communicate
We're going to go ahead and make our luminosity masking actions that we had before to make our highlights, our midtones, and our shadows. So what I'm gonna do, is I'm gonna go ahead and I'm gonna make a new action in here and call this dash dash dash dash dash. Good habits. If I could spell. Stop. That's our page break just so that we know we're going to a different set of actions. Notice how I said this could get really cluttered really easily? And add an action. We're going to call this highlights. So all I have to do for this is make a new curves adjustment layer. Actually, no. What I have to do for this is, is before I make the new curves adjustment layer, if we're introducing good habits here, is to go to select, then go to color range, and then go to highlights. And then from here, I could select how much highlights I want. Do I want this to be heavy highlights or light highlights? For this, let's just make sure it's a pretty decent selection of our highlights. We'll press okay. ...
So now that's selecting that color range. You can see that the color range is in here and if we drop this down, it'll even show us what we're selecting. And there's our selection. If I make a new curves adjustment layer, right now I would press stop. I don't want to rename anything, I don't want to move anything. I just want to stop it. Now I can double click on this make adjustment layer, call this highlights. The color would be, I like blue for my tones. And the mode, the mode for this, I want to select luminosity because I don't want to affect my colors. Again, we're going to separate the colors from the luminance values with this curve right there within the action. Press okay. We don't need to do anything with the curve. This is one of those things where, these are actions that I create that don't actually do anything, they just set you up for a good workflow. So all I have to do now, is if I press play, guess what? I've got my, if I press alt or option, look at that. Those are my highlights selected. So now I'm gonna make another one. I'll just close this down. Let's add a new layer. Let's make this midtones. New action. And I'm gonna go to select, color range, and then midtones. And then I get to select my fuzziness. Maybe I'll make this a little bit bigger. This is the stuff that I do late at night, okay? I'm not joking, I stay up late at night and I'm like ooh, how can I make my actions better? Yeah, told you I'm a dork. Okay, I'll move this up, press okay. No offense to anybody else who does that. And then we're gonna make a new curves adjustment layer. Call that curves, press stop. So now I'll go ahead and double click inside this. I wanna call this midtones. I'm gonna change the color to blue. Change the mode to luminosity, press okay. And don't do anything with the curve, just press okay. So now if I press play on that, yes. Midtones, it worked. Of course it worked. Of course, don't doubt yourself. We're gonna make a new one, we're gonna call this shadows. Notice how every time we make a new one, just to repeat this, the record button is on. It automatically starts when we make a new action. I'm gonna go up to select, I'm gonna go to color range, and then from here I'm going to select shadows. I'll make this a little bit smaller. Don't want to get too heavy with those shadows, and press okay. I'll make a new curves adjustment layer. Stop, double click, shadows. Change the color to blue 'cause it's tones, and luminosity, press okay. Don't need to do anything with the curve. So now I have a couple options here. I could just go in here at any time and make my highlights, my midtones, or my shadows by pressing play on them. Or what if I want an action that does all of them for me and then puts them in a group and then calls it tone masks? I can create another layer, or sorry, I could create a whole new action right here and call this all tones. You can actually select actions from within the actions group to be recorded into an action. Boom. I'm telling you, I love this stuff. So I'm gonna click highlights, press and hold shift, click shadows, and press play. For some reason, my shadows one didn't come out very well. We'll have to take a look at that for some reason. Let's just imagine that it did. Sometimes what happens here actually is the color range, just so you know how color range works, color range likes to take the data from a background layer and not the data from any other layers in here. So what happened with shadows there was I probably, when I recorded that to make my selection, there was probably an adjustment layer here. And you know what an adjustment layer is? It's not a pixel layer. Color range wants to find something from a pixel layer. It doesn't want to find something from an adjustment layer. So when you tell it to find the shadows, it's trying to find the shadows of nothing. So that's one of those things that we want to make sure that we keep in mind when we're building these. So if I delete all these, that's actually a good thing to know though. And it was a good mistake, I meant to do that. Just because we have this now set for these, if we make any modifications to these, if we don't change the name of this, it will still call up that action with no problem. So now let's go ahead and we'll remake the shadows one. So we're gonna press record, press select, color range, shadows is already selected. We're gonna make a new curves adjustment layer. And then we're gonna stop, we're gonna call this shadows. And then we're gonna call this blue, and luminosity. Okay, okay, stop, okay, cool. So now, don't prove me wrong. Nope, still having a problem with shadows. (laughing) Of course it is. That just always happens. Well we're just going to make, you know, we're just going to pretend that that didn't happen. If I wanted then to put these into a group, I would just click on the bottom of this action, press record, press and hold shift, click on highlights, and then command or control G. And it puts them into a group. And then I could press stop and call this group tone masks. And then I press play. It's going to play all of those and then put them in the tone masks folder. What it's doing is, it's playing each one of those individually. I can go up and I can make the decision to press play and grab that, each one individually. Or I can say, just give me all the tones. Just hook me up. And that is available over here in the tools. You can see I've already done this here in this panel. So if we press all tones. That actually worked. So let me fire the guy that is standing in front of you here. But that's making actions that interact with other actions. Again, because I've already made these action, I would make sure that I saved these actions. I added to that list so if I don't want them to go away with the purge, I'm gonna want to make sure I save them. So I'm gonna go to file up here in the little hamburger menu and go to save actions, click on the actual action and press save, press yes. Now there comes a time when we need to check actions too, and also when we need to add certain things to those actions. So what we're gonna do is we're gonna make an effect-based action here. I'm gonna make a new action and call this, let's make it a clever one, we'll use equal signs this time. I'm feeling different. Press stop. That's just going to be our divider. And then we're gonna make a new action and we're gonna call this radiance. This is an action that I use all the time to make a custom radiating effect in my image. And the reason why I'm showing you how to make this is because if I press command or control J right now and I record duplicating and you have a bunch of work in here, and you press play on this action, all it's gonna do is duplicate what was in there and it's not going to work appropriately. So I'm gonna show you how to record a stamp into your work. And this is gold, this is gold. This solved so many problems for me when I was building my panel, it's not even funny. And it's like a Photoshop hack. There's not other way to do this other than doing it like this. So I'm gonna make a new layer. If there's nothing new in this layer, if we didn't do anything to this layer, and there's nothing in that transparent layer, no brushes, no nothing, all we did was press new layer, and then we press control shift alt and E, it will make a merge visible within this layer. So essentially what we're doing now, is if you think about this, we recorded us making a new layer so that we couldn't duplicate this, we couldn't press command or control J on the background. Because if we had a bunch of layers in here, then we couldn't necessarily duplicate it. But if we start at the top of that stack, we make a new layer, and then we flatten it, we're flattening all the work into this stamp. That's the trick, it's a really awesome little hack there. So now we're gonna press stop because what do we need to do? Well we need to rename this layer right here. So I'm gonna double click make layer, call this radiance. And I'm gonna make it purple, press okay. And now I can delete all that work that just happened there. Now watch what happens. Makes a new layer called radiance and it stamps it together. That right there, that one thing, about making that stamp this way, is the only way to work around making a stamp of layers and bridging the gap between English versions of Photoshop and all other versions of Photoshop, whether that's Dutch, German, whatever. That's really the only way to fix that. So now what I'm gonna do is I'm gonna go ahead and change this, I'm gonna make sure that now, I go back to the bottom of this merge visible. I'm gonna record it and I'm going to change this to soft light. So if we look at our image with that set to soft light, it doesn't look that great. But watch what happens, oops. All the work I'm doing is getting saved in there. Awesome. Remember I told you in the very beginning of all this? The first time I made an action, it recorded every single thing I did? That's what I just did there, I recorded me grabbing the other document and doing all that other junk. So go ahead and stop, stop what you're doing. Get all that stuff out of there. All the stuff that was dealing with documents, we can just drag and drop and get it out of there. And now because this set right here, I set this to soft light, the question might be, well can I set that to soft light when I do the make layer? It won't work that way. Because once you stamp things, blend modes get tossed out the window so that won't work. So we do have to set that to soft light at this point. So I'm gonna press record, I'm gonna go to filter, I'm gonna go to blur, I'm gonna go to Gaussian blur. Because this is set to soft light, the way this blur is working on this image, it's going to do some really cool things. What happens is this is kind of the glamor glow effect that you see in some programs and plugins. What it's doing is, it's taking a duplicate copy of everything that I've just done, it's changing it to soft light, and then it's blurring it out. So what happens there is we get a really muddy version of our photograph. And you're like, well why isn't it muddy on our image? Why does our image look good and not muddy? Well the reason why is because soft light, what does soft light do? If it's middle gray, it stays the same. If it's darker, it gets darker but never pure black. If it's lighter, it gets lighter but never pure white. So what's happening with this image as I changed that to soft light, if we just drop this down to zero, you'll see. That's our original image. As I move this up, look at how it blurs. We get a nice little kind of soft hazy blur. There's the before, there's the after. You see that? So I'm just going to go ahead and press okay. I'm gonna bring this up a little higher to about right there and press okay. So on that note with soft light. Soft light doesn't just work with gray and white and black, it also works with all the colors. So certain colors will get more definition, more green or more yellow or less yellow or less green depending on how that color is splitting and interacting with the image. So if I go ahead and press okay on this, make sure we open up our actions again. We have our Gaussian blur, we have the radiance set up and it looks good. This image is a very small image. Very small image. 'Cause I'm using it as a test image for this. If I used one of my Sony A7R III RAW files, it might take a little bit more time for that to happen and I'm trying to speed things up a little bit and also teach you a little lesson at the same time. That Gaussian blur was only set to something like 26 or 30 pixels or something like that. So if this image was a big image, that's going to do nothing to it. And I'm gonna need to set that to 60 to 80 pixels. So what you can do here is you can insert a stop. And you can say, for low res images use 15 to 30. For high res, use 40 to 60. Press allow continue, press okay. That's gonna let you know, or the person that's using this action know, that oh okay, well this is a small image, it's something that's just gonna go up on the web. I'll change this from one to whatever. But if I were to press play on this, watch what happens. Okay, thank you, I'll use 15 to 30 or 40 to 60. But what a second. I can't do anything, what's going on? Well what we need to do, let's go all the way back to the beginning here. Fresh document, press play. It's not actually letting me stop to use the Gaussian blur. So how do I let the person know, or how do I let myself know, that I can do something with the Gaussian blur? Well that's why there's this little thing right here. Notice how when a stop action goes through, there is a modal dialog here that is stopping the action from happening until something else happens. If I click right here, that's gonna stop us at the Gaussian blur. So now watch what happens when I press play. For low res images, use 15 to 30. For high res, 40 to 60. Awesome, thanks. Continue, oh look at that. My Gaussian blur popped up. It's stopping me from making any of those assessments. Now as we talked about too, if we wanted this to be a smart object, because didn't we talk about filters and smart objects working hand in hand? And the expectation? If we press okay, where would I put the smart object in here? How would I do that? What would I do? Well what I would do is I would delete this, I'd look at my layer stack, and I would need that to basically stop after merging the layer, right? See these check marks here? These check marks are there to toggle that on and off to play that part of the action or not play that part of the action when you're working. So watch this, I'll turn set current layer off, I'll turn stop off, and I'll turn Gaussian blur off. I don't have those checked, so watch what happens when I press play. It doesn't do anything. It just stops and says okay, cool, that's all you wanted me to do? 'Cause that's all you've got checked, that's all I'm gonna do, awesome. Now what does that give you the option to do? This gives me the option to basically beta test every step in my action if I wanted to. Or for this instance, I needed this layer to be here so that I could turn it into a smart object. So I'm gonna go in right here under merge visible, click on this layer, right click on the radiance layer, convert to smart object. Oops, hold on. What I'm gonna do before that is I'm gonna press record. Press record, click on that radiance layer, right click, convert to smart object. And then stop. So now watch what happens when I do this. Press play, converts it to a smart object. I don't have anything else set there for the soft light or the stop or the Gaussian blur. So let me go ahead and check those boxes. Press play. Continue. Gaussian blur, good. And look at that. Now we have an action that has recorded the stamp function of everything that's happening below. It's converting to a smart object first, it's setting the layer to soft light, stopping us to tell us what we want to do, and then going and Gaussian blurring that. So that if we ever need to go back, we always have the Gaussian blur right here. We can turn it on and off. And it's aside from the actions here. So let's go ahead and click on this action and get in good practices and just go up here to the hamburger icon and press save actions. Where are you? Ah, okay, so I tried to press save actions and it didn't work 'cause I was clicking on an action. If you want to save an action set, you have to click on the actual set. So I'll go over here, save actions, and now it'll let me save it. You can't save individual actions, but you can save action sets. So then if we just look at the way this looks, close this down. If we had multiple sets, you would see something like this. Different sets of actions that would be contained underneath there. And they're all separated by dropdown boxes. If these had actions in them, you'd see how they'd delineate too. If you're recording these actions and you want to test one, for instance, this is a really important thing to note too. If we wanted to test what happens, say we record this radiance action and we wanna play around with it. If we click on this radiance action, we don't have to redo all of that stuff. All I have to do is click on this radiance action, drag it and drop it to this little page icon here and that will duplicate it. It's made a radiance copy. So now I can go inside this action, independently edit whatever I need to edit in there, make it better, make it bolder, make it do something totally different as an aside from what's happening with this radiance so I don't destroy any of the work that I've done. Because once you've edited an action, once you've gone in there and edited an action, there's really no going back unless you saved it recently and you can draw that back up. Right in here you're going to see also, there is a duplicate right here. So if you don't remember that little trick to drag that action and drop it into the page icon, you can also just press duplicate by pressing the duplicate button on any action that you have selected. So that about wraps us up with actions. We have discussed a ton. We made a basic action, we made the curves dodge and burn action. And all the while, what I want you to gather from this is that we talked about good practices for modifying our actions and good practices for making actions. The more bulletproof you can make an action, the better. Because you don't necessarily want that action to run and do destructive things to the work that you're already doing. And we don't want to make destructive actions as we do this. If we need to make a duplicate state to flatten things down that happens in an action, what we would do is in the history palette right here, there's this little tear away plus page icon thing. When you press that, it's gonna record the duplicate state of that. So if, after you get done with all that work, you wanted to flatten things down after it's done, that's how I would have it flatten down. 'Cause I did tell you at the beginning of this, we don't want anything to be flattened until we are ready to flatten it. We don't want an action to do that. Now if by chance this is an action that's gonna do some kind of crazy effect to your image, you would do this before. Well if you already had a bunch of work in there in that layers palette, you would record your action, duplicating the state, then flattening the image. So that would look something like this. We're gonna go ahead and we'll just do it right here. We're gonna go ahead and press record. Actually, make a new action. Record. We'll hit this duplicate state here. And then we would go layer and then flatten. And then we could build our action on top of that so that we aren't doing anything that's gonna flatten work. So now if we were to press play on this action, it's gonna duplicate it and flatten it. And then we can build up. So if it's an effect-based action that's gonna do a bunch of stuff to a photograph and you don't want it to mess up your history palette, always have a duplicate somewhere else. So that about wraps it up. Do we have any questions on actions?
Two questions really quick. First question, right at that screen right there is a good example. When you clicked off some of those check marks, one of them was left the color red. And I don't know why that was left red.
Awesome question, neither do I. No, I'm kidding. What it's doing when you check that, it's telling you hey, this action right here, something's broken. You've stopped this action from working. You don't have these things checked. That red check mark is just your identifier that's telling you that something is not right here. This check mark is red because it's the whole action set that's saying something in this action is not right, something's unchecked. Because sometimes you can make an action that might have a couple things in here that you would want to check or uncheck that you want to happen or not happen as you are working. So you could uncheck it. It's just a reminder that hey, something in here isn't right. So if we were to close this down, saying yep, something's not right in there, open it up, which one's not right? Okay, this one's not right, check, check, check. We're back to normal.
And the other question is, would you consider an action a plugin when you have it ready for somebody else? Would that be called a plugin?
You had mentioned that if you're not saving your actions, there's a chance you'll lose it when the cache purges. So how often does that purge or is that something that you set yourself?
It's something that you can set. You can do it up here if you go to edit and then you go to purge. There is histories here, that would be where it purges. Sometimes it just purges on its own and you don't know. Trust me, it's one of those things that, I've closed Photoshop down a couple times and all the actions have been there and I've been hoo. But then there was one time where I've created an action, I closed it down, I came back in the next time and it was gone. So just make sure, good practice. Always, always, always, always, always save. As many times as possible, it doesn't hurt you. I am so crazy about it that I will, after even every little modification, I'll go in and I'll save it because I've lost a lot of big work. My first action set that I made that I actually dispersed publicly was like 150 actions that were workflow related that I essentially turned into a panel later. But yeah, when you build something like that and you lose it, that's many, many, many, many nights of lost work. Alright, so that concludes our lesson on actions. If you want to follow me, you can go ahead and go to f64.co/cl and follow my journey in Photoshop. The next lesson that we're gonna talk about is gonna be filters.