Photoshop is an incredibly powerful tool, and one of the best ways to get the most out of it is to use actions. An action is essentially a script that tells Photoshop to process multiple tasks in a row. Regardless of whether you are using Photoshop for photo editing or for design, actions can save you a loads of time.
Actions can be useful during photo editing for basic steps that may be needed with a lot of different photos. For example, you may want to use an action that will lighten dark photos and brighten colors.
You can also use actions for tasks like applying a watermark or logo to a number of different photos.
As a designer, you could use an action to apply guides at specific intervals that you use frequently. You could also use an action to quickly apply a text effect rather than manually re-creating the effect for multiple layers of text, or text in multiple different files.
There are many different uses for actions, and the more you use Photoshop, the more possibilities you will see.
If you want to use actions, you can either create your own, download free actions, or purchase premium actions.
While there are plenty of great actions already available, it’s extremely useful to know how to create your own actions. There will be times when you want to do something specific with an action and you may not be able to find one that already exists. If you know how to create your own, you won’t need to rely only on actions that are available from other people.
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With that in mind, I’ve put together this list of tutorials that show you how to create Photoshop actions. Some of the tutorials are rather basic and are great for those who are new to creating actions. Others are more in-depth and show you how to create actions for specific types of effects. Hopefully, all of these tutorials will help you to see exactly how you can use actions in your own workflow.
Be sure to check out our collection of the best free Photoshop actions.
Tutorials for Creating Photoshop Actions
Filter Grade is a leading site that sells Photoshop actions and Lightroom presets for photo editing. The founder, Mike Moloney, has created actions that have been sold to tens of thousands of customers, and he has written this article that shows the basic steps to create your own actions. This is an intro-level article that is great for anyone who has never created actions.
This video tutorial from Ben Willmore shows how to create a sample vintage effect action. It’s an excellent intro-level tutorial that shows all of the steps you can follow to create this specific action, or apply the same principles to create your own action.
This article from photographer Trevor Morris is very detailed and gives some extremely helpful tips. The tutorial shows the generic steps to create an action, as well as the specific steps to create two different actions for improving workflow.
This is a really useful tutorial that can save you a ton of time. It shows how to create apply an action to multiple photos at the same time. If you have several photos taken at the same time in the same conditions, you may want to apply the same effects to all the photos.
If you run a website or blog, chances are, you’re saving and uploading a lot of images. This tutorial (both text and video) shows how to create a Photoshop action that will batch process your images to save them for the web, which can save a lot of time in your workflow.
This tutorial at Fstoppers shows how to create a Photoshop action for sharpening photos.
This tutorial leads you through the process of creating a simple action that will adjust the contrast, tonal range, saturation, and sharpness of a photo.
This one is a bit different, but equally important. Although this article does not go step-by-step through the process of creating an action, it is extremely useful for understanding how actions work and how to get the most out of them. The article basically de-constructs an action so you can understand how it works and what it does to a file (in this case, a photo).
Although actions are great, there will be times when the result is not exactly what you need. You don’t have to scrap the action altogether when this happens. This tutorial shows the layers and effects that are created by a sample action and how to customize them to get the best results for a specific photo. When you understand the ins-and-outs of actions, you’ll be able to create better actions, and you’ll be able to use them more effectively.
This article focuses on using actions to speed up the process of doing repetitive tasks, including batch processing to apply an action to multiple files.
If you’ve used many free Photoshop actions, I’m sure you’ve experienced the frustration that happens when the actions don’t work. Although actions can be extremely useful, they have to be created the right way or they won’t work in certain situations. You might get an error message that a layer doesn’t exist or one of many other errors that are common with actions. All of these things can be avoided if you create the action properly to begin with.
This video tutorial from Phlearn focuses on the process of creating actions, and specifically, how to make sure your action will work and not produce the common error messages.
In this tutorial, you’ll learn how to create an action that uses a few different layers and effects to give your photos a dramatic look instantly.
This tutorial is specifically written with product photos in mind. It shows how to create and use actions to bulk color correct your photos.
Light leaks are popular effects, and the easiest way to add a light leak to a photo is through the use of an action. This tutorial shows how to create your own custom action that you can use with any of your photos.
In this article, you’ll see the exact steps to create an action that will give your photos a fun retro comic look.
Actions can be used for much more than just photo editing. This tutorial shows a perfect example of how you can use actions for advanced text effects.
This is another tutorial for creating an awesome text effect action that you can apply at any time. This one creates a cinema-inspired text effect that involves many different steps. Create the action and you’ll only need to go through the process once, then you can apply it to any text quickly.
In this tutorial you’ll learn how to create an action that will apply a very unique effect to any photo. The end result will be a transition between a photo and a drawing.
It’s a fairly long process to create this fun effect, so why not create an action to be able to apply the effect quickly and easily to any photo?
This tutorial from Design Panoply (both text and video) shows the process of creating an action for applying a vintage effect to your photos.
This is another tutorial for a vintage effect, but its a much different type of effect than the previous example. This one also incorporates texture into the effect.
This tutorial shows how to create a fun sketch effect. You can easily apply this effect to any photo to get a playful effect that makes it look like a sketch.
This tutorial shows how to create an action that will give your photos some added character by applying a textured effect.
With this action, you will start with a single photo and give it the appearance of a collage made up from several different photos. This is a fun effect that you could use for a lot of purposes, including creating images to be used on your blog.
One common use of actions is to apply your logo or watermark to photos before uploading them to the internet. This tutorial shows how to create your own action that will apply your watermark quickly and easily.
Adding your watermark to a single photo is helpful, but chances are, you’ll need to duplicate that process with many photos. This tutorial (text and video) shows how to batch process the addition of the watermark to save you lots of time.
Blurring the background of a photo can help the main subject to stand out. You can create this effect when you’re taking the photo, but sometimes you may want to achieve this type of look after the photo has already been taken. This tutorial shows how you can create an action to make it easy.
This simple tutorial (text and video) shows a fun effect that you can use with your night photos. Typically, you’ll need multiple photos to merge in order to get the star trail look, but this approach replicates the look with a single photo.
This tutorial is in both text and video format, and you can follow it to create an action for use with portraits.
This is a more advanced tutorial that shows how to create a really nice dispersion effect that you can use with any photo for a look that stands out.
This is another advanced tutorial that teaches a different type of dispersion effect.