Thomas Tips: How to Save Time Using Photoshop Actions to Automate Repetitive Tasks [Video Tutorial]
Our Lead Designer Thomas demonstrates how to quickly automate repetitive tasks in Photoshop by using "actions. You might use actions to apply complicated filters to your photography, or maybe to add detailed shadows to your product shots. Anything that requires a lot of steps and is something you need to do often can benefit from using Photoshop actions. It's going to save you a lot of time and help you deliver consistent quality. This tutorial was created on a MacBook Pro using Adobe Photoshop CC 2017.
[0:00] – Intro graphic
[0:11] – Thanks for joining me today. My name’s Thomas and I’m the Design Lead here at Mighty Ant DataWorks. In today’s Photoshop tutorial, I’m going to show you how to quickly automate repetitive tasks by using “actions”. It’s going to save you a lot of time and help you deliver consistent quality.
[0:29] – So, what exactly is a Photoshop “action”. It’s a feature in Photoshop that lets you create a set of procedures that can be reused over and over to edit an image in a particular way. You might use actions to apply complicated filters to your photography, or maybe to add detailed shadows to your product shots. Anything that requires a lot of steps and is something you need to do often can benefit from using “actions”.
[0:56] – For me, I create a lot of graphics like this one for our case studies on MightyAnt.com. I use a simple “action” to resize and format the mobile screenshots to fit cleanly into the angled display. As far as “actions” go, this one is short and sweet, but it is still super helpful for me and I think a great example for demonstrating how “actions” work.
[1:18] – To get started, I’ve brought in three mobile screenshots. Again, my objective is to create an “action” that will automate the steps for resizing and formatting each screenshot for use in the angled display over here.
[1:31] – Our first step will be to open the “actions” panel. To do this, we’re going to go to the “Window” dropdown menu at the top of the screen and click on “Actions”. It should be one of the first options that you see.
[1:46] – So now here we have the “actions” panel. Let’s zoom in and take a closer look at some of the icons we’re going to be using. You can see down here, from left to right, we have a “stop playing or recording” button, we have a “begin recording” button, “play selection”, “create new set”, “create new action”, and “delete”.
[2:14] – Before we record a new action, there’s something very important to keep in mind. Your “action” should be a group of generic commands and should not rely on any specific layer to pull information from. Otherwise, if that layer changes names, or gets deleted, it’s going to prevent your action from working as intended. With that in mind, here’s how I am going to create the action we need.
[2:34] – To keep things organized, let’s start by creating a new set and naming it “Mighty Ant”. Remember, the new set icon is down here. We’ll click on it, type in the name, click OK. Next, we’ll come down and click on the “Create new action” button, which again is right down here. Let’s call it “mobile angled view” and you can see it’s going to be saved here in the Mighty Ant folder that we just created.
[3:04] – Now before we click on “Record” and start running through the edits we want to make, remember, we don’t need to worry about rushing through these steps, because we are only recording the individual clicks. Even if it takes us 30 seconds to locate an option we want to use, it won’t slow down the final action, so let’s take our time. Here we go.
[3:26] – Let’s start by resizing the first mobile screen shot. We’ll make that about 65%, apply the change. Then I’m going to adjust the opacity a little bit, just to make it easier for me to see what I’m doing. Edit. Transform. Distort. And all these little changes, we’re only going to have to it this one time, because we are recording each step as we go. This is going to make our life a whole lot easier when it comes to making the other adjustments.
[4:17] – Let’s apply that change. It’s looking pretty good. I’m going to put the opacity back to 100%. And there we have it. Let’s stop recording. Now, you can see here, here’s a list of all the different changes that we’ve made. The only ones we really need, as far as this action, are the two transform components. This one here is resizing it to 65%. And this one down here at the bottom is where we distorted everything to make it fit within the mobile viewport.
[4:57] – So I’m going to go ahead and highlight the two that we don’t need, and come down here to the delete icon. Ok, now we are left with just the two transform components that we need.
[5:16] – So let’s see if it worked. We’ll come to our next screenshot here. We’ll come back to the action panel, select our “mobile angled view”, and then come down here to the play button. Let’s see what happens. There you go. Everything is sized exactly as needed. We’ll do it again to the next one. Come back to the action panel, click play, and there we have it.
[5:56] – So let’s hide the action panel. And now we can just drag these two into place. They are all exactly the same size, thanks to the help of our action. There you go. Looking pretty good. And that’s the beauty of actions.
[6:30] – I hope you found this video helpful. You can find more useful tips at MightyAnt.com. Until next time… thanks for watching!