Automation & Productivity Part 2
Actions are very interesting part the first segment we talked about how to use all the built in stuff where doesn't require any work on your part, you just go to some menu actions or the opposite, where there are some default actions that come in photo shop, and, frankly, they're okay to give you an idea. But the real power of an action is where you can record some operation that you want to do, and have it playback automatically, and that's the concept of an action, and I teach a lot of workshops and seminars and big rooms from a full of people, and I always ask for when I talk about actual, always ask a survey and it's interesting how often the numbers are always the same, whether the percentages, whether there's, thirty people or three hundred people, or six hundred people, it's almost always the same, and I ask for a show of hands, I say, how many people here use actions all the time and there's, usually a very small percent, like five percent, and I asked how people have no idea w...
hat inaction is, and there's like five percent, which means a lot of people know what actions are, but don't use them, and that always both confuses and worries me because actions are great, and my thinking is that I realized that people have the wrong perception, I think of action, so I started asking people, why don't you use actions? And I found there are three main reasons people don't use actions. I don't know what inaction is fair enough, you're not going to use something, you don't know what it is, and the second most common reason people said don't use actions is well, I thought it was only if I needed to do like fifty steps to hundreds of images and that's part of actions but it's not the only thing, but the recurring answer I kept getting from people as to why they don't use actions is something the effect of I tried it once and had a bad action experience where things went horribly wrong and I was like a little one touch that anymore because I was bad, and I think part of the problem is and I I blame myself, in part because when I first started showing actions, I got so caught up in the coolness of them that I'd say, hey, check this out, look how you can turn your text into molten lead and people were like yes, because that's a practical thing I need to almost every day, so the actions I were showing, we're cool. Because of what they did, but they weren't really useful. So now I take a different approach and say, ok, here's the deal with actions it's a form of automation that can save you time period. So think of any situation and photo shop where, like, I wish I could do that faster, whether it's one step or eighty steps, if it makes your life simpler. That's what inaction is for and the idea behind it is you record operations that then when you go to play it back, it goes way faster than an average human being could ever use photos on how fast you are using photo shop on action will do it faster. And the other thing that I would repeat from the first opening kind of comments I made is I use an action either if you can do part of a process for me, even not the whole thing. So some people have this philosophy. Well, I'm not going to accord in action less, I can do the whole thing and I think that's a mistake, why not get part of it done using an action? So everything revolves around this panel called the actions excuse me, the actions panel, this is where we record things, we store things. We can share them with other people, you can download examples, all that kind of stuff, and the first thing you want to do just to make your life simpler is we want to create a new folder to contain our actions now, because his adobe, even though the icon looks like a folder it's called a set I don't know why, but that's what it is so when you go toe had a new folder it's going to actually, so you click on the icon that looks just like a folder, but it says new set so that's what it does so you name your set and there's a couple of reasons for doing this one is just organizationally it's, just easier, but one of the real benefits of actions is you can share them with other people, whether it's, mac or pc doesn't matter it's easier to share when it's in its set so it's much when you go to share the action, technically you're actually sharing the set, even there might only be one action in that set is just that's the way you share them easily, and at that point then I go to make a new action, but here's a tip number one when you're recording your first action, make sure you already have a document open. What happens to almost everyone the first time they record? Their first action is they start recording and then they go, oh, I need to file open so they open a file, we just recorded that step. So from now on, every time you run that action, it will open that file, or at least attempt to do so. So unless you want that to be part of your action, general, you don't generally you want to say I want to apply this to an image it's already open, so always have a file open and in many cases, probably even better have a file open that's kind of like your be ok if it saves it by mistake or something because it's a copy or a test document or something, so have some document open, then you go to create a new action. So when photoshopped, the little page icon with the little turning thing on the bottom is their icon for new any dialogue box where you see that iconic means new, whatever it is in this case, new action we go to first step would be to name your action and again, you pick some name. I would not recommend having your actions called action one section to it would be very helpful. So give it some name that's going to tell you what it is so the example I'm going to use here is a method of sharpening that goes into this mode called leiby mode so I'm just going to name this baby sharpening if you want to you can give it a function key short cuts if you want to go even faster if you just press f seven or whatever it is and it will run you can even color code your actions which just is away visually of describing the model personally do that and then you click the record button and at this point the only thing that happens is down the bottom of the actions panel there's a big red button that's appeared so this is like outside the studio where there's the red light that says now recording now maybe it's just me that on lee ever do this? I think not but I remember the first time I recorded in action for some reason I don't know why I got it in my head it was recording how long I was taking so he's doing things really quickly going on okay emphasize you know and I was like scrambling around doing all this stuff so that my action how these mistakes and it undoes and then one day I realized wait is not recording how long I take is just recording what I do and I know that I'm probably not the only person out there that do that the first time. So my first action had, like, five mistakes and undoes in it because I kept making a mistake go, you know, so the good thing about action is it's, its function based recording, not time base. You can relax and take your time and do everything you want. So in this case I need to change the mode to l a be color. And by the way, this is an action that's, just one of many, many ways of sharpening that's really not the point as much as how we're recording the action now over in the actions panel. It now says convert mode so anything you do, it will be recorded, and we'll talk more in a second later on about what happens if you try and record something and nothing happens because there are some steps in photo shop that referred to being is un actionable, which is a fancy way of saying you can't record them. So this point now I want to go and find the channel's panel and I click on the lightness channel and just as an aside, the theory of this way of sharpening is if you are sharpening a photo a lot and you start to see those kind of color halos around things, this is one way to lessen that because we're on ly sharpening kind of like the grayscale information of the photo that's kind of the thought process behind it. So this point here's where life gets trickier with actions because now I need to apply a filter so let's do say unsure mask and actions air so specific it's going to record whatever I put in this filter, so I basically have a couple of choices here choice number one would be, well, let me picked settings that I think I might on average use, which is on okay theory, but the reality is with a lot of filters it's always changing and the other option is just record anything at all oh, so I'm gonna go overboard. I realized tonight the first time I showed this as an example, doing a subtle sharpening action is not the best example when you go to run it, so don't ever use these numbers just ignore the numbers part because I'm going over sharpen it, so at the end you can see clearly that's something has happened to this photograph, so I'm going way overboard then I click ok then I need to change the mod back to rgb and now I stopped recording so I have a simple action that just says convert mode click in the likeness channel, apply on sharp mask and convert the mod back again so if I revert this and by the way actions are photoshopped specific not document specific, so the fact that record this action means it's now in photo shop it's not just attached to this one, so at this point, if I want to run it exactly as I recorded, I just hit the play button or if I'd recorded an fbi could press that and I hit play was done I mean, I could never tomorrow how fast I am a keyboard shortcuts I could never do it that fast the problem with it is it's always going to apply the filter at whatever settings I recorded and that might be ok a lot of the time, but what happens when you decide later on I don't really like those settings, so here we have a couple of choice and we'll go into much more detail about how we can edit on action after the fact but let's, look at this action you can see in the actions panel it says convert mode and if I troll down the triangle says to l a be mode and then select likeness channel and then down here where it says unsure mask it's actually recorded whatever numbers I put in there so I can always go back and see remind myself what setting said I use but one of the things that I could do is say well, every time I run this action I maybe want to sharpen on a image by image basis instead of globally saying always used these settings so you look really closely beside where it says un sharp master the left there's like a empty box there if you click on that this is called him motile control, which is a fancy way of saying like interrupt switch so what will happen now is it will run the action and at that step it'll pause opened the dialogue box and say, how much do you want to sharpen? So no, I've gone from making a fully automatic action to a semiautomatic that's out of weird partially automatic action which has interaction so this time when I run the action look at the difference it does the first couple of steps in and says, how much would you like to sharpen you decide whatever amount and when you click ok, it does the rest so now from now on every time I run this action it will look like this and pause at that step, which is great if I'm running this action individually so here's a photo run this action here's a photo run this action the problem with it is one of the advantages of inaction is to say I got one hundred images this folder do it to all of them so in that case I wouldn't wantto inane every single case interrupt and click that button all the time so the other option would be let's just revert this again instead of using this little interrupt switch and this I've shown this tip for a long time now and I'm even people who have been using actions for a long time this is not easy it's easy to miss let's put it that way again you see it says uncharged mask and it tells me whatever my settings are if I want to change those settings and re record them all I do is double click on this step and it opens up the dialogue box and now aiken put some different numbers when I click okay from now on those are my new settings in that action so one of the ways I uses all the time is what I'm recording a filter I just record some setting I think this should be fairly good for a lot of my photographs but I know before I go to run the action to a series of photographs I look at those photos and stay on this case I think I want to sharpen this amount so by double clicking on any step in an action that gives you that opportunity, you can re record it, and that becomes the new settings from now on. So in a very quick nutshell, that's a very simple example of how you khun both record in action and then go in and say, yes, but I want to have more choices. I want to be able to not be stuck with the same settings now what I used to do before I realized this was an option, and I know many people do this here's ana, duplicating the action and re editing it, and I didn't up with like, five, copies of my sharpening actions just got very complicated. So now I just think, before I go to run this action, let me take a quick look at the numbers and make sure they make sense, then I can re record, if necessary, and like a lot of things in photo shop, when you re record the steps in an action, it will preserve those settings until you change it again. So it just becomes a habit to say before I run this action to a folder full of images, and we'll see how to do that later, I would just make a quick check and make sure whatever filters or settings are the way I want and this applies to anything that has settings like filters, adjustments like curves, whatever it might be, you can re record that's step just by double clicking on it now the other option would be it wouldn't make sense in this particular case, but look to the far left of each step in the action there's a check mark that basically says yes, run this step so if for some reason not again, that would make sense in this case you decided not to do this step you khun just uncheck it and it will skip it when it runs the action. So sometimes people record in action that has something in there that they may or may not want to do depending on the photograph say you have a tall photo when you say have a step that says rotate but then you look at a wife I don't need to rotate you could unchecked that step, but the recurring theme we have to always remember is whatever you do into an action, it will keep doing that until you put it back again. So if I unchecked the step means from now on every time I run this action it will keep skipping that step until I tell it again and one of things that they will be does, which is kind of neat here's my action see how it has a little red checkmark beside it that's a overview to tell me somewhere in that action I have skipped a step so if I'm uncertain and go away, what did I do then you could looking oh yeah there sure enough, soon as I turn that back on now the checkmark turns the white to say all steps are currently part of your actions, so this is a very simple way to say I'm going to record in action gives me a couple of choices and then on a case by case basis I'll say in this case yes, I do want to conclude that step or no, I don't want to go that step so like for instance, I've made an action for fayed andi I have to record then, you know, do something to the image and then faded. So would it be better just to remove that step before the fade? Because I've got before I just deleted it out in the action? Well, that's more of a personal choice if you think the reason that I like the check mark is because there are some times where I want this step other times I don't so this way on the fly you just decide in this case let me just skip that step in other cases I do want if you find that more often not just never use a step that would be just some people like to just delete a step and have two actions with two different names or something like that. So aa lot of these things are very kind of personal choice as to how we record things and how we like to do things. Now, there are some things that when you go to record will not will not work. So, for example, let's just say I'm going to make another action, and I wanted to add guides is that we're both horizontal and vertical, like right dead center. Well, if I click record and I just go to the view menu and choose a new guide and tell it, say fifty percent and click ok, it may or may not work in this case, it looks like it's worked because it says new guide and that's always the way trick is to check first if you find that whatever it is you're doing, you're trying to put a step in there and nothing happens. Nothing shows up, then the way to work around that is to use the pop up menu in the actions panel and choose insert menu item, and what that lets you do is if there's any step you try to record, and it doesn't show up in the actions panel. You can kind of force the issue by choosing insert menu item and then going to whatever function it is and usually it's things like zoom in, zoom out, because sometimes those just don't record. So if you want to change your view to fit in window and it doesn't, you could go insert menu item and then choose whatever it is fit on screen or whatever, and then it will actually show up in the menu the list of action steps so that's, one of the ways where if you ever run into a roadblock where you say, I just can't get this one step to record that's one of the simplest ways to do it, one of the things that I suggest actions, one of the greatest things about them is they're very easy to share because you could just export them comes a little text file you can give to someone else they can load it in, but unfortunately, a lot of actions, I assume that you know how to use actions so you might get an action, and suddenly a dialog box pops open your like, um, what am I supposed to do here? So if I know, for example, is to look back at our sharpening action here, if I know, for example, that I'm goingto make people determined their own unsure mass settings I'm going to put that little motel control back on but what happened is I shared this with one of my colleagues suddenly this dialog box would pop open there they might be like what am I supposed to do now so one of the options you can do after you finish recorded in action this is a neat way either for your own purposes to remind you if you like me have a very bad memory or if you want to share it with someone else is you go to the step and immediately before it there's an option that's called insert stop this allows me to do is actually put in a message so I could say to someone you know next you must and I'll just that as they say in sharp mask on sharp and then you click the little button that says allow continue so what happens is that I always put in the wrong place you need to put it up here so you see I did that deliberately to show you how you can move steps up and down let's go with that story so now if I say ok play this action it will do the first couple of steps but now it says next you must just refused to first and I hit continue now I know that I want to do my own sharp mask so this is really useful if you're doing something where someone doesn't isn't quite sure what they're supposed to do that insert stop can give them instructions now not that you would ever do this of course, but tell tools school tales out of school but I used to work in this place that was all revolved around photo shop and people if they ever made the mistake of saying, you know, I was hired to work we don't really know photoshopped that well, that was like the worst thing you could possibly say to us because we play like these horrible pranks and one of them was you you'd go into an action and record insert stop, but all you do is if the guy's name was jim, you just be like hi jim for no real reason and then they'd be playing in action all of a sudden this thing would pop up and maybe, you know, like so you say just all you do is play this action like, ok, great and all of sudden isms of this high jim, they're like, whoa that's just weird doesn't serve any practical purpose whatsoever, except it is kind of free people a little bit so that's not a bad thing toe throw in there just to kind of confused people off question yeah, they've just to clarify for april doherty photography so if I'm recording and actually do something like sharpening the eyes and I put a stop in there where it will stop applying the action that aiken can I do in like should continue sharpening before then saying continue on can I do something or do I have to just stop well and hit? Yeah there's there's stops due to things that it really does interrupt the action so as we'll talk about in a moment up until recently you couldn't do things in action like record a paint brush so for example say your action was apply sharpening with a mass but I want to paint it back in one of the functions of a stop would be now while it's and stop I can paint them when I hit continue it can go on so that's one of the other purposes besides just giving people weird messages is to actually literally stop the action so someone and you could put in the stop now paint where you don't want the eyes to be sharp or whatever it is and then when you hit continued the rest of the action would play so that has been a very common part of of working with with actions in c s six they added a very important ability that will talk about the changes things a little bit and it's it's just one little function but it's very important in the world of actions so so basically if if you had built up your action palates to the extent that you can't remember what you've done in each one, it would be a good place to put notes to yourself. Yeah, definitely there's some people that the very first step is a stop that says, this is my action that does abc just as a reminder, and then after a while you can turn that off because you now have been reminded what it does so that that is actually very common use. I wish more people did it honestly because one of the best things about actions is there's all these resources out there where you can download actions for free that other people have made but enforcing a lot of them just kind of assume things like assume that your images in cm white came oh, they might not tell you that. So you got to run the action and you get some weird error message that you don't understand. Why is that happening? It's? Because they probably should have put a stop that said, oh, before you start, make sure your in cm or something, whatever that you know, the function is so to me those inserts stops are very valuable information, but even for yourself to remind yourself how to use it well, dave, no going back photos actually had asked if there were sites mentor and I should check out online who offers awesome actions to download you just mentioned that. Do you have any favorite? Well, there's a there's a few one of them is actually adobe on through their website. They keep changing the name. And I think right now, it's probably called marketplace or something like that over the years have changed the name of it, but the golden oldies website you'll see there's a place and I want to say it's called marketplace, where people can upload actions, many of which are free, some have a small fee and they it's free to sign up. But then you khun search and say, I need to find an action that turns my text into molten lead, and you confined the seven actions that air there, you download it, and then it installs and you run it there lots of other ones as well. Most others, I think, are mostly probably paid where you either pay a monthly fee or you say upper action feed, but frankly, in some cases, if it's an action where this is the one that's going to solve my problem, many people don't don't mind spending a few dollars to get in action that's already built for them. My philosophy is as soon as I downloaded action, the first thing I do is going to see how they do that. Because then I figure I can learn more about actions myself if I can kind of break it down and look at the steps and go, oh, they duplicate the layer first and then they did because then when I'm trying to build something of a similar nature, I kind of know what to expect so an action can be as simple or as complicated as you want. You can even recorded stories of actions and then recorded action that plays some of your actions so you can even kind of in bed, you know, have for example, in I'll show you do this quite a whole series of very simple actions that do one or two things and say now the inaction that does those four so instead of starting from scratch, you're just saying we run these actions, okay? Uh, here's, another important thing to note. So in this particular case, I'm going to take out this stop in this one here and my l a be sharpening one, I realize that the end one thing I didn't do is include a save so all it would do if I ran this and we just keep the document open and now would be sharp, but I wantto save it so I could run it as a batch well, I already I record this action a few minutes ago, and I'm done but I'm actually not because that's one of the other great things about action is at any point if you decide I should have done another step here, all you do is click on the last step in your action and then hit the record button and it's like saying and start again so now whatever I do will be recorded so for example, I could record save as and I'm going toe just record save as whatever format like j peg or whatever and when I do that then I'd stop recording again once it was finished because all I'm trying to do is say just record that one step that says record this is a weird kind of a j big things come up with a bigger dialogue box but anyway and then I would stop recording and that's all kidding aside, I usually joke about this but it's a really good idea to make sure you get the habit of stopping recording because otherwise you might think ok in my brain I stopped recording but any menu go to is going to kill keep recording so it's important to say I really finished make sure as stupid as it sounds to make sure you click that stopped recording button because otherwise if you went to for example, play the action that you just recorded, it would be like ooh endless loop of things that we just get messi is all heck so that's kind of you know, one of the reasons I do that now that was a fairly simple action needless to say, you could have actions that do many more things including really complicated things but I always like to start with that kind of example just so no one feels like well, I have to learn how to do something really complicated because you don't I mean it could be a simple is that I just want to do these few little steps but let's take a little step further so a few years ago it's thankfully changed now but this this is kind of what got me started on this there used to be this little let's just call it issue with photo shop where I'm just going to add a layer and add something to so we have something really matter so the way photo shop works you have these layer styles right there you can go in and say for example, I want to stroke well up until c s five the stroke would always default to outside red, which I don't know anyone who ever puts a red stroke on the outside because outside strokes look but that was always the default on I remember once asking adovia could what? Why does it why won't remember and they're like, well, we just didn't program at the weigh in photo shops term that's called sticky when it remembers some setting and I said, I just want this to be sticky and they're like it didn't matter how many times you had it a red stroke could always are a stroke and change it it would always come back to read and one time when I asked them I said, you know why I read like, if you're gonna default to something, why not like they black or white? And I'm not kidding you. The answer I got was we thought if we defaulted to read, people could figure realize they could change the some other color I'm like ok? Because the whole colors semi colon, big box here didn't give it away anyway, the good news is now there is a button that allows you to make a default, but the whole point of that story was a few years ago there wasn't so I got so tired of always having to go on change the stroke, I found that, you know what? I'm just gonna record in action. I'm gonna make a thing that just says one step and all I did was I made an action and all it wass was black stroke inside that's it because I fear I do that all the time, so I hit record and I went to that here and I chose stroke and I said, I want black inside and make it some size so you can see that I've done it normally would make it that big click ok, and stop recording so all that action it only does one thing. But if you think about it compared to the alternative me every time going stroke no, not an inside out, you know, on changing it that's kind of the point. So even something where it's only one operation but it's one operation still takes me going menu sub menu click on this clicking the color picker. It still takes a number of clicks to me. This just be a lot easier. So now, from now on, if I want a black stroke, I just have this action had play and it's done now it's still here so I can edit it. But at least the application of it is easier. And I had this light bulb moment where I thought, you know what about if I think about it? There's a lot of those little one step actions I could do, like black stroke, white stroke drop shadow rotate. So I started going through and just making a bunch of actions that were like, um ninety degrees clockwise, and then I go to the image menu and shoes, image rotation nine degrees counterclockwise, stop recording so in each case, I'm going through just doing one thing, but very quickly I got a whole list of these things that were just like, rotate and scale so free let's do one more and say, I just want to make it ten percent smaller, so I hit record and I go to free transform and up here in the where sis me the size, I just go in and put it ninety percent hit, enter and then stop recording, so in each case all I'm doing is recording ah siri's of these one step operations and even things frankly, that have keyboard shortcuts, for example, there's, a keyboard shortcut for duplicate layer, but you'll see in a minute why I might do this, so now I would record that and stop recordings, and I'm building up this little list of one step actions and the point of doing this is now when you're working and you have this built up a list of these little actions and I would make quite a few that said, like rotate ninety degrees, counter clockwise, clockwise ten percent smaller, you know all the all the operations that you do individually. The reason for one of the reasons for doing this is in the actions panel one of the options is a display mold called button mode, and when you click on that now all of my actions, they're down here, and you can see now they're just clickable. So if I just say, I want this to be smaller every time I'm clicking on it, it's like a button and it's running that action over and over again, and if I said I'd also like to duplicate it and at a black stroke and rotated, every button I click is just a quick way to run that action. So if you start going through and saying, I'm always duplicating layers, I'm always adding a blank layer before use a spot healing bush. Many of these things again have keyboard shortcuts, but now your focus is in one place. You're just clicking on buttons as opposed to going ok, what's the shortcut for that and what's a shortcut for this that's just a display mode called but mode now up on the top someone else's actions air in here. Actually, some of these air the building, one this's where, if you did color cold, your actions is where you actually see it. So if you wanted a series of actions that were like my retouching actions, you could color called him a certain ways. What a quick glance you could see what they do, so really what this is is it's. A little investment of your time ahead of time to say let me record a bunch of simple little actions and then when I'm in the middle of some work, I'm not distracted by where is that again? I mean, think of things like rotate ninety degrees that was image, transform, rotate I mean, I was like a few sub clicks to get to it now it's just a button or inaction and I could also if you don't like but mode you could assign f key shortcuts to say f ten is this f eleven is that personally I never remember what shortcuts I give actions, so I'm just as happy to go but mode for something like that. So that's an example where to me that's the ultimate in when people say yeah, actions, I don't really use them because I don't have all those steps they're one step but there's a siri's of one steps and again, if I really wanted to, I could record a new action that said play these four actions. So if I knew every time I want do these four things I could do that if I wanted to actions that one of the best part about actions is they add very little to no overhead to your image and two photos show, so if you have a big long list of actions great because you're not worried about oh, every time I make an action, I'm taking up something because you're not. Actions are a little tiny text files. In fact, when you downloaded action off of some website, you'll think didn't work because it went so fast, because actions downloading the second, because they're just just that.