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Photoshop Actions

What are Photoshop Actions?

Actions are basically a series of recorded editing steps that allow users to go back and access them any time without having to repeat the same editing process over and over.  Photoshop actions can really save you a lot of time, especially when you find yourself repeating the same steps in a lot of your images.

They come in .Atn file format and you install them and store them inside the Actions Panel of Photoshop.

Photoshop has a few built in actions and you can also record and create your own. There are also many actions that you can purchase online and even some available for free. As with anything, some are better put together than others so do your research and read reviews.  Greater Than Gatsby has some Photoshop Actions you can try for free.

Photoshop Actions save you time

What are the benefits of using Photoshop Actions?

Actions save you time. That, in my opinion, is the number one reason to use them. Instead of constantly repeating the same steps over and over on image after image, it is much easier to just press “play” and let the action do the work.

Actions can also be used as a teaching tool. When you run an action created by another professional, it shows you the steps within the action that the creator took to get to the end result. You can turn each step off and on, and see how they each affect your image. Taking the time to dissect an action and study the steps can show you how to reach those desired affects or adjustments on your own.

Actions can be used for things as simple as resizing, sharpening, and saving for web purposes, or more complex things such as completely changing the tones and overall “feel” of an image. Actions help many photographers find their editing style when they find themselves often gravitating towards a particular “look” when seeking out and purchasing action files.

How To Install Photoshop Actions

Photoshop actions are super easy to install. Once you download the zip file containing the .Atn file to your computer, unzip (unpack) the zip file and you will now be able to see the .Atn file(s) containing the action(s).

You can either drag this file directly into your Photoshop window, or go to the Actions Panel in Photoshop and select “Load Action” from the drop down box. This will direct you to navigate to the action file on your computer and load it into the panel.

And you’re done! You are ready to hit play and record your action as often as you want without having to repeat those steps. I do recommend saving the . Atn files outside of the actions panel of Photoshop as well just in case you ever run into an issue and need to re-install them, especially if investing money into them.

How To Use Photoshop Actions

Using actions is just as easy as installing them. Once you have opened up your image in Photoshop, making sure the layer you want to run the action on is selected, simply go to your Actions Panel, click on the action you want to run, and hit the “play” icon (arrow pointing right) at the bottom of the panel.

Playlist: The Painterly Portrait Collection Photoshop Actions

Playlist: The Portrait Retouch Collection Photoshop Actions

That’s it! The action will run through all of the steps and do the work for you.
You can open the action layer and go through all of the steps to turn certain steps off/on, or adjust the opacity of the steps, etc.

Photoshop actions are great for beginners and pros alike. Whether creating your own or purchasing them from others, they can really help to speed up your workflow, save you time, allow you to use another editing professional’s skills/steps, and they make for a great teaching tool!

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