Creating your own actions isn’t just fun; it’s also a huge time saver when you automate the editing techniques you use a lot. I have a enormous collection of my own actions. Each and every editing technique I’ve ever done over the past 10 years or so, I literally transformed into an action. Anywhere from simple borders, to special color pop techniques, sharpening, resizing, favorite B & W editing and foggy overlays. You name it, I’ve made it.
The important thing is; I know how they all work and how they’re build up. Obviously, since I’ve created them. But what I mean is that I don’t need my actions to apply these techniques to a photo. Any photo. So if I end up using a different machine, or somehow I’d lose everything (God forbid), I could still edit my photos in the exact same way or quickly remake the actions. The moral of the story; never be dependant on actions if you don’t know how to create your favorite effects yourself.
C’mon, let me show you how to create and save your own actions! That’s the very first step!
Sunlight touch up:
I’m using my sunlight touch up technique for this. I’ll post the action we’ll be making at the end of the post, but do me—and especially yourself—a big favor and make your own action at least once. You’ll see how utterly simple it is. Learning to do this yourself will give you an amazing freedom when it comes to building your own personalized work-flow.
Creating the action:
Open your image first. I’ll wait! Always start with an open image, unless you want to implement the actual opening of a photo into your action. Which is something I do in my storyboard actions. But for now just start with an open image.
Most people will see this colorful action palette when they look at their screen. So do I. The cute colors are fun! They’re very functional as well because they help you find the right set in no time.
What you see here is a small part of my storyboard actions. Don’t even try and figure it out; they only make sense to me :)
Now you can not create actions when you’re in button mode. If you see all the cute colors; you’re in button mode. Or in denial, but that’s a different 12-stepper! So we have to switch from button mode to edit mode. Click the little triangle on the top right of your actions palette to open the menu.
This will unfold the actions menu. The button mode is at the very top of the menu. Click it once.
This will turn button mode into a simple text edit mode.
You can only save action sets, not single actions. Each action you make has to be stored in a set of choice.
Click that little triangle again and choose New Set from the menu.
Now give your action set a name. I’ve named mine—and what a novel idea—Kay’s Actions. The set will appear at the very bottom of your actions palette, so scroll down to find it. You can simply left click on the set with your mouse, hold down the mouse key and drag the set anywhere you like within the actions palette.
Now there’s the set named Kay’s Actions in the action palette. It’s still an empty folder of course. Let’s fill it up!
Click on the little triangle again, and this time choose New Action from the menu.
A popup box will appear with several options. Let’s take a closer look at them.
Now you will see the action pop up in the set we’ve created. It’s still an empty action at this point.
The moment we’ve created the New Action, photoshop automatically started recording. See the little red dot at the bottom of the palette? That’s your record button. When you see the red dot you know that photoshop is recording every single step you take.
Now simply use the sunlight technique I’ve posted right here.
Ctrl J – or layer- duplicate layer
Rename your layer
Filter – sharpen – unsharp mask (amount20% – radius 50px – threshold 0)
Select foreground color picker and choose a soft color
Edit – fill
Choose foreground color
Blendmode – overlay
Voila! You’ve just created your own action. Simple, huh? Under the action name you will see a list of all the steps we’ve taken. Now push the little blue square at the bottom of the palette to stop recording.
If you want to see the settings of a specific step you’ve taken, simply click on the little triangle right next to the name. I want to see the settings for the unsharp mask filter.
It will unfold all the settings that were used.
Making actions in photoshop will not automatically save them. Photoshop just stores them locally. If you remove the action from your action palette without having saved it, you lose it, period. You have to save them afterwards, manually.
Now it’s time to save the action you’ve made. Select the action set and not the action itself, or you won’t be able to save your work.
Click the little triangle again and choose Save Actions from the menu.
Now you can save your actions to a folder on your pc. Or mac.
Click the little triangle once more, and switch back to button mode.
There’s your action! Fully ready to be used.
You can add any future actions to the set you’ve created, so you have them all together! Feel free to download my Sunlight Touch Up action right here.