Friday, October 22, 2010

Photoshop Actions and Scripts

For the first 3 sessions of IT Academy Labs, this fall, we offered several CUSTOM WORKSHOPS designed by individual instructors on staff. Chris Spears, one of our seasoned Photoshop experts, offered a workshop entitled, Photoshop Actions and Scripts.

Photoshop Actions and Scripts was a workshop all about increasing project productivity in Photoshop. Actions and scripts are very useful, but are very commonly and easily overlooked. They make the most tedious job, the most simple to-do in a matter of seconds, and you have the option to use ones provided, create your own, or download ones that other people have created!

The first session served mostly as an introduction to the concept and functionality of actions and scripts. The second session was centered a bit more around actions. And, the third and final session was all about using both actions and scripts together in different projects.

Being the first time ITA had offered the Custom Workshops, Session 1 of Photoshop Actions and Scripts had started off a bit slow. As stated above, this was an introductory session which served primarily as the introduction of the concepts behind actions and scripts as tools used for increasing project productivity so it was not very project oriented. It was more of a chance for students to get familiar with learning how to use and incorporate these two aspects of Photoshop in different kinds of projects. This included:
  • creating and recording steps
  • saving actions
  • reading scripts and reading through action steps
  • downloading scripts and actions from trusted sites

Nonetheless, the students seemed to be really amazed at how the actions and scripts were carried out and how much they could accomplish in such a short amount of time once they were ran.

By the end of the session the students had a couple of different projects they finished; one project was from a batch rename script, which re-names all your files for you using a systematic approach. One was from an action they downloaded from the internet and loaded into Photoshop (these varied), and their last one was from an action they created/recorded themselves (these also varied).

Check out some of the student examples!

Session 2 was a lot more interesting for the students, as it was much more project-oriented. We think the students got a better idea this session of what can really be done with scripts and actions in Photoshop, after having the necessarily somewhat slow-paced introduction to them.

First, we started off with a quick review from last session just about the main purpose of actions and scripts and their many uses. Then, we jumped right into the first project which was "Reading" actions--this project consisted of downloading an action of a cool effect from the internet (, loading it into Photoshop, viewing its contents and recorded steps, and then finally attempting to re-create the cool effect using the action as a step-by-step guided tutorial. While this was a bit tedious, it provided a great way to REALLY understand how these things work!

The purpose of this project was to get students more familiar with the process and order at which actions may be recorded, and also to get more familiar with the Photoshop interface and different tools and such, as they encountered many new terms for different Photoshop tools and processes through reading the recorded steps of the action. Unfortunately, the lead instructor, Chris, didn't notice that this particular action in order to achieve this cool effect was entirely TOOOO long to "read" in its entirety. So about a third of the way through reading the action, Chris decided to just stop and had the class hit the "play" button to finish it up... it was well worth the wait though, as the students got to delve deep into the script for a while, and then they were very relieved to be able to stop early.

Next, the students created their own actions which they saved to their folders for other students to load up and attempt to "read" themselves to see if they could get the same effects (although most of them probably just hit the "play" button to speed up the process...which is what the workshop was all about anyways so the students clearly grasped that concept quite nicely).

The final session began with a review in the form of a walk-through project called "Clipping Mask Collage." The students really enjoyed this project and were very satisfied with their results. This, again, was a way to give the students a bit more experience with creating longer actions and getting a better feel for the idea that not all steps that one may take to create a project in Photoshop can be recorded with actions (such as the Brush Tool), and also that sometimes there needs to be a specific order to how you record your actions in order for them to give the same effect when you run them again on another image.

Check out the examples!

For the remainder of the session the students created their own projects using different actions and scripts (custom, default, and/or downloaded). Here are some examples of their independent Photoshop Actions and Scripts projects from Session 3!

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