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Old 2007-01-18, 08:34  
Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: event horizon
Post Actions

What are they for?

After a while you'll notice that you're repeating some stuff a lot. To avoid the boring manuvers in Photoshop. Basicly you record what you are doing and for one and then you just repeat it over and over for the rest, thus saving you the trouble of having to go to menu X chouse option Y (and set whatever is needed) over and over and over for each and every one.
When it's good to use them
Lotz of bla bla bla bla...

Actions can be used for about anything. However... while it may sound like a good idea to have some action for example that makes a 1px black border, it's NOT. Besides obviosly spoiling your creativity and ruining your chances of forming some fundemental shorcutkey skills, it is not what they were intended.

Actions are meant as a "production line" tool, they're usefullness lies not in making very simple manuevers, but making a series of complex hard to remmeber moves. Like setting it to open and process your image, to be turned into a thumbnail for example. Or to make an action that opens all the windows to for adjustments, fillters. Or as a form of recording complex effects, so you get consistent results.
How to make one...

You first start by opening a file, something very general use.
Then open the Actions window (via Window Menu), if it's not already.

Spoiler for Example & Illustration:

With everything in place, do some prep work. For example, let's say were making an avy, you wouldn't want the crop in the actions so just crop to a square shape. (see Index Section E. for Cropping)

Now create a set for your action.
Spoiler for Example & Illustration:

Now start a new action.
Spoiler for Example & Illustration:

Now you can use your action to reproduce the result time and time again.
To run an action select it and hit the run button .
Spoiler for Example & Illustration:

Adv. Tips
Fine tunning...

You might need to adjust a certain part in an action each time you apply it.
For example for an action that makes an avatar you would almost always want to mention diffrent save settings.

To do this we insert a Break Point. Basicly when you run the action it will do everything and when it reaches a breack point (you can have as meny as you need) it will pop up the dialog box for that move. For the example above that would mean it would pop up the Save for Web dialog box.

Spoiler for Example & Illustration:

Actions that have Break Points in them have a Redish Break Point icon next to them.

How to make 100 Avys per Hour
Simple Technique Nr. #1

Ok lookie here...
I bet you're thinking making that many takes a lot of time, well it doesn't. There's a master technique for it to go uber fast...

First Make sure you have some pics in a gallery somewhere. Then create a new folder somewhere else where all your avys will go. Ok we're all set...

Start photoshop, you'll need your Action Window and Tool Pallet nothin' else.

Create a new action, let's call it "Avy 100perHour Piece A" (this is joke, you'll get it at the end )

Now it should be recording. Ok, now I'm going to take you through some full proof HQ static Avy settings.
  • Go File > Open > *go to gallery and open a pic*
  • Select the Crop Tool, in the tool bar set it to 100 x 100 fixed ratio.
  • Crop it!
  • Go Image > Adjustment > Levels > *Move the White and Black extremes in very slightly and the Gray pointer to the left, again very slightly* (this 99.9% time improves quality and reduces final image size by a little)
  • Go Image > Adjustment > Curves > *Create a very lean S curve* (this will make charcters glow, colors brighter, and reduce end file size)
  • Go Image > Image Size > *set it to avatar size 100 x 100, set the Resample Method to Bucubic Smoother* (yes I know Bicubic Sharper is the recomended one for downsampling images but Bucubic Smoother produces better looking result, and smaller filesize)
  • Hit Ctrl + A (ant line should appear as all is selected)
  • Go Edit > Stroke > *4px White at 50% transparency*
  • Go Edit > Stroke > *2px Black at 100% transparency*
  • Go Edit > Stroke > *1px a light Grey at 100% transparency* (not too light)
  • Go File > Save for web > *settings are jpg at 90%* > *save it in the directory you created at the begging* (no need to name it leave with the pic name)
  • Go File > Close > *when asked to save changes answer as NO*

Ok stop the action, we're done.
Now, add Breack Points for the Open and Crop moves.
Copy your action 3 times. (drag and drop on the new action button)
Name the second one "Avy 100perHour Piece B". (don't worry about the 3rd copy)
Go to your original copy and start the recording process again, now select "Avy 100perHour Piece B" and hit play. You'll need to make an avatar to continue.
Now, Stop recording for action "Avy 100perHour Piece A". You should have a new move after the Close move. Take it and move it in the 3rd copy. Now start recording for "Avy 100perHour Piece B", this time select "Avy 100perHour Piece A" and hit play. (you'll need to make an avatar again)

Ok, to finish things off take the action in the 3rd copy that was originally in "Avy 100perHour Piece A" and put it back in "Avy 100perHour Piece A" (you can delete the third copy, it has served it's usefullness)

Now you have a recursive action. I'm sure you've figured out by now that 100perHour is a joke, but it's sometimes better to lie then to say the totaly outragious actual time.
Spoiler for How They Should Look:
Sample Output:
P.S. When your finished, so everything's nice and tidy, go to the Adobe Bridge > *find your folder* > *select all your avatars* (they should have the name of the files they were made from) > Hit Ctrl + Shift + R. The dialog box for batch renaming should apper, select how you want them to be called etcetera.

Photoshop Settings
Simple Technique Nr. #2

O so tired.. ok I won't go into detail... I'll just throw the concepts at you.
Have you ever thought of using Photoshop actions to record you as you change Photoshop Default-Out-Of-The-Box-Settings to you favs. (add your tool presets etcetera) Hmm
How about setting up an action that changes the key shorcuts. Let's say you have 4 actions (for example the F9 to F12 keys) each changing the functionality of, say, the F1 to F8 keys. That would mean that in you've doubled the functionality of the F1 to F12 keys. (but this is just as an example)

Ok maybe this is too hard to swallow for the avarage avy maker, I'll stop now
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