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Sally Jane Photographic Art

Adobe Photoshop Tutorial


Photoshop History & Actions Palletpallets

The history and the actions pallet share the same docking location by default in Photoshop. Both of these are extremely useful features.

History Pallet over-view

The history pallet keeps a running record of everything you do when you have an image open. It allows you to undo your last actions or set a history state for the history brush to refer back to. More about that later. The number of history states you have live (available to use) depends on your preference settings. The more history states you have available the more memory Photoshop requires to remember them. Once you get past the allocated number of history states the oldest ones start to disappear. You will not be able to undo your work to a history state that has dropped off the list because you have run out of your allocated states but you can always revert back to the original image as it was when it was opened. To increase or decrease your allocated history states go to Edit on the top menu bar and from the drop down list select Preferences. This is normally right at the bottom of the list. In Photoshop 7 I think it was actually listed under the File menu. You will get a list of options, in cs3 the history states dialog box is under Performance. I have set mine to 20 which I think might be the default. You can select a higher or lower number if required but be careful if you reduce it because it is amazing how many times you will wish you had more. Click OK and you're done.

I will add more on this feature in a day or so.

Actions Pallet

Actions are scripts that you can create to perform a series of tasks automatically. They are very useful if you regularly perform the same tasks over and over as once you have created an action you can use it to batch process whole folders of images in one go. If you do not have your actions pallet available go to Window on the top menu bar and select Actions. By default there will already be one actions set called Default Actions. This contains a series of actions created by the Photoshop team. In the image to the right there is also another actions set that I have created called Sally's actions. This is where I keep all the actions I create. You can also import actions from the Adobe web site and if I were to do that I would probably create another set called Downloaded actions or something similar just so I know where they have come from. To create a new set click on the folder symbol at the bottom of the actions pallet.


You will get a dialog box where you can give your set a name.


Type in whatever name you want and hit OK. Your new set will appear in the Actions pallet but as yet there are no actions in this folder.


We shall now create an action. the one I will create here will be for adding a copyright logo and a copyright metatag to an image. You could create one that resizes an image or converts your images to greyscale. What ever takes your fancy can be done. First open an image. Once you have one image open you are ready to start creating a new action. Click on the paper symbol at the bottom of the actions pallet to start the process.


Once again you will be given a dialog box where you can give it a name and set some other parameters.

actionsYou can choose which set you want to add it to. If the set you have not just created is not shown it will be in the drop down list. Next you can assign a function key so you can simply press this key to set it all in motion. A list of all the available keys will appear in a drop down box. You can also select if you want to use this key on it's own or with the shift or ctrl buttons. Useful if your function keys are already in use for something else. Last you can give it a colour so it will stand out in the actions pallet. I don't have that many actions so I don't feel the need for this generally so I'll leave mine white.


Once you are done click record. You will now see the little red recording symbol highlighted. actionsEvery action you do now that effects the image will be recorded as a step in this particular action.

As I said, I am going to be adding a copyright notice and some metadata to my image. Select the type tool and type a copyright notice on your image usually something like '©2008 Sally J Turner'. I will use my type tool as a mask. To do that click and hold on the type tool in the tools pallet and you will see a set of options. Choose the T symbol that is outlined with a dotted line. When you type on the image it will initially turn red or whatever your colour is set to for showing your masks. Once you have finished typing the red mask will disappear and the text will be outlined with a dotted line. Hit ctrl+J to duplicate this selection to a new layer. Now click on the effects icon at the bottom of the layers pallet (it looks like a fancy f in cs or cs2 but xf in cs3) and select bevel and emboss. You probably won't need to change any of the default settings so hit OK to apply them. Now you can see the text embossed on your image. Flatten the layer down by going to Layers on the top menu bar and select flatten.

To add the metadata to to file on the top menu bar and select File Info about half way down the drop down list. This will bring up a large dialog window where you can add all sorts of metadata over several pages. I just want to add copyright info and there is a box just for this. Enter something appropriate such as ©2008 'Your Name' All Rights Reserved. Now hit OK and the window will disappear. We are almost done. Save the file, I recommend you use a high setting if this is a jpeg because we don't want to cause any extra damage to our image by squeezing the life out of it. You can always go back and reduce it later but you can never undo the damage an over compressed jpeg setting causes after the event. Now close the image and you are done.

You will now need to stop the recording so simply click on the square stop actionsicon at the bottom of the actions pallet to the right of the red record icon. Now you can see your action and all the steps you took listed in the actions pallet. There are now many ways in which you can use this. First, when you have an image open you can click on the title of the action in the actions pallet i.e. 'copyright' in my case and then click on the play icon at the bottom of the pallet which looks like a triangle on it's side. The action will run and the image will be saved and closed according to your settings. Second, if you have set a function key, with your image open, press the key and once again the action will run through and save and close the image. If you don't want the image to be saved or closed at that stage simply uncheck the tick box next to that part of the action and it will perform everything up to that point.

Batch Processing

If you want to use this action on a whole folder of images then you can run it as a batch command. You do not need any images open for this. Go to File on the top menu bar and select Automate. From the list select Batch. You will be presented with a dialog window where you can select the action you want performed.

batch processing

There is a drop down list for you to select your set. Default Actions will probably be showing but yours will be there underneath if this is the case. As you probably only have one action so far this will be displayed in the action window. If not it will be in the drop down list. Next you need to select the folder where the images are you want to batch process. With folder selected in the source window click on choose to navigate to the folder. Check the Suppress colour warnings box or it will ask you what to do for every image it opens with a different colour space. If you wish you can have your updated images saved to another folder or simply over-write the originals. Select None if you just want the originals saved to the same location but select folder if you want new files create and choose the location for this. In this instance you will need to check the box for Over ride "Save as" command. Now you can even give your files a new name at the sane time. Once you are happy with your selection click OK and sit back while photoshop opens each image in turn, applies the actions to it and saves and closes them all without you lifting another finger.

batch processing


Recommended Further Reading for Photoshop

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"A-Z of Digital Editing"


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