If you know how to make Photoshop actions, you have a powerful tool in your hands. Actions let you create magical Photoshop effects with a single click, saving you a lot of time and effort. In this tutorial, I will show you how to create an action in Photoshop so that you can design your own effects for pictures.
First, you need to have a sample image that will help you see the effects of the action. Open it in Photoshop.
Open the Actions panel. You can find it under Window > Actions.
To create a new action, click the white card icon on the bottom of the panel.
Give the action a name. If you want to be able to play this action with a press of a button, you can assign a Function Key to it.
The action is being recorded now. But don’t worry, there’s no hurry. Photoshop only records your actions, and it doesn’t care how much time passes between them.
Let’s show Photoshop which actions we want it to save for later. First, create a New Layer.
You’ll notice that your action has been automatically added to the list in the Actions panel.
Let’s fill this layer with some color. When creating an action, it’s better to avoid tools that are based on clicking on the canvas, because if you play the action on an image with a different size, it may not work properly. Always try to use something as universal and fool-proof as possible—so instead of using the Paint Bucket Tool to fill the canvas, go to Edit > Fill.
Let’s do something fun with this layer. Right click it and select Blending Options. This panel is often used in actions, because it’s full of switches and sliders that you can use to heavily modify the layer, without having to point at anything on the canvas.
First, drag Fill Opacity down to zero. This will make the fill color invisible.
Check Gradient Overlay and click it to see its settings.
Change the gradient to a rainbow.
Change the Angle of the gradient to something more interesting.
Finally, change the Blend Mode to Color.
This method lets you apply the colors of the gradient to the image below without modifying it.
If you like the effect, press OK and stop recording by clicking the first button in the Actions panel.
And that’s it, our action has been recorded and saved! If you want to use it, just click the play button.
You can test it on many different images. A properly created action will give you the same results regardless of the photo you use!
To give you a better idea of how Photoshop actions can be used, here are a few examples from Envato Elements.
Painting Photoshop Action
If you want to turn a photo into a painting, it can be done with a single click, too! This action uses custom brushes and patterns to create a convincing effect of an oil painting. It also organizes the layer neatly, so that you can customize the effect afterwards.
Geometric Portrait Photoshop Action
This action is a good example of a selective photo effect. Before you play the action, you must show the program which area you want to be affected. This is especially useful for portraits, to create a different effect for the person and the background.
Cartoon Photoshop Action
Photoshop actions can also be used to create a comic book effect. You don’t have to be able to draw to create something that looks like a nicely stylized drawing! Just find a good photo, select the character, and click play!
Vintage Photo Effect
If you want to give your photo a vintage feel, it can be easily done with many types of actions. This set has 20 of them, and each of these actions will give your photo a unique style that brings old cameras to mind.
Retro Poster Photoshop Action
But photo effects don’t need to be all about photos. You can create a real poster from start to finish with a carefully prepared action. This action turns a photo into a neat illustration that can be used as a retro style poster.
Now you know how to create a Photoshop action step by step. If you want to learn more about Photoshop actions and photo effects in general, you can try these tutorials as well: