What are Actions
Let's talk about workspace, and what windows you kind of need to have at the ready if you're gonna be creating actions. One of them is going to be your Actions palette, right over here, I've got my Actions palette right there. If for some reason you don't see your Actions palette, then come up to your Window menu up at the top and make sure that "Actions" has a checked box next to it. Whenever I'm creating actions, I like to give this window a lot of real estate on my screen and especially with a tiny little laptop screen, like we are working on right now. What I'm gonna do is click and drag this window and actually put it here, so that we have lots of room to play around with. Because as soon as we start creating an action, we're gonna start seeing the different memory steps of what Photoshop is recording in that action, and we want to be able to see each one of those. So the Actions palette needs lots of space. I also want to make sure that I have my Properties window up. There is my...
Properties window. And then I want to make sure that I have my Layers palette up as well. All right. And if, for some reason, you feel like "oh, this would be something I'd like to save and have for the future, if I ever wanted to come back to making more actions,"` if you come up to your workflow up here, you can save this as a new workspace by hitting this little icon up here, which looks like your little workspace icon. See that up there? Okay. So what is an action? I like to kind of describe actions as a recorded series of steps that you could teach Photoshop to do automatically for you so that you don't have to do it in the future, and you don't have to keep re-doing the same mundane steps. It's a "small helper robot" that you can teach to do easy tasks. Actions are also an outline, like I said earlier, to keep you on track, so they kind of, they serve dual purposes, so they've got a lot going on. If you do something more than five times in Lightroom you need to have a brush for it; the same holds true for Photoshop as well, but if you do something more than five times in Photoshop, you should have an action for it. So very similar to brushes, having lots of presets at the ready is going to make you work smarter, not harder. Now, what wouldn't be good for an action? What wouldn't be good for an action is something that the human eye or the brain is needed to make an assumption about the image, so if you need- this is very, kind of, cerebral, to kind of think about what needs the human brain in Photoshop and what doesn't. But actions are gonna be best for tasks that just are kind of mindless, okay? Making a layer. Turning, a, adding a mask and turning it black. Those kinds of things that you do over and over and over again in Photoshop, that incrementally take up time, time time time. Every time you use an action, let's say it saves you, let's say you have an action for creating a black mask. Usually, you would have your layer, and you would click the Mask icon, and then you would invert it to black by hitting Command- or Control-I, or you would hold down the Option key. If you easily had an action that did all of that for you, maybe it would save you five seconds. Well, how many black masks do you create while you're retouching one image? Let's say an average is about ten. You would use ten black masks while creating an image, while retouching an image. So compound that on every image that you retouch, and all of a sudden, you're starting to actually save significant amounts of time by using those kinds of immediate things. And you can place up to hundreds and hundreds of steps, like, let me show you quickly the Portrait in a Pinch action which I'm going to talk about at the end. This one. So let's take a look at this action really quickly. And here's my Portrait in a Pinch action that's dated. So let's look at all of the steps that this action does. (hums) Okay! There we go! Stop. And I put a nice little cute note in there at the end of the action for you. Okay, so this is all the stuff that the human eye is not needed for. The human eye and the human brain, I don't need, to do any of those steps. So that's, what, 150 steps? I should probably count that at some time, and say how many steps it actually is. So if I can apply all of those steps to each image that I retouch, imagine the amount of time that we are saving, okay?