The Actions Palette - Adobe Photoshop

The Actions Palette

By default, the Actions palette is in List mode. By going into the palette’s submenu, you can change this to Button mode, which turns each action into a button, but doesn’t give you the option of tweaking the actions. See Figure below for a look at Button mode.

The Actions palette in default List mode and Button mode.

Defining an Action

What’s an action? It is a set of instructions that repeats in a particular order. I had to create a few rocks for the movie TheRundown that needed the same treatment done to each texture map. I created an action and simply batch processed them.

How do you use these actions? More importantly, how do you make your own customized actions? And what is batch processing, anyway? Patience, young grasshopper. When you can make this paper look like rice paper, then you will be ready. Okay, enough Kung Fu references.

Using an Action

First you need to know what the action does. You can get an idea by looking at the Actions palette in List mode and expanding each of the action’s steps. To do that, click the triangle next to the action itself and then each step.

Personally, I like to just press play and see what happens. I use two examples.

You can figure out what an action does by expanding each step.

  1. Open an image like the one in Figure below.
  2. Use a copy of an image to test actions.

  3. Now try one of the default actions. Click the Wood Frame action and click the Play selection button at the bottom of the Actions palette, like I’ve done in Figure below.
  4. Apply an action to find out what it is

  5. A dialog box like that in Figure below warns that the image dimensions must be at least 100 pixels high and 100 pixels wide. Figure Click Continue. Photoshop goes through the series of steps, and Voilá! You can see the results in below Figure.
  6. A warning embedded into the wood frame action.

    The results of applying the wood frame action to the cuttlefish image

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