22 February 2008

An Expert

No, when I title this post "An Expert" I am not talking about myself. Though Ree the Pioneer Woman of The Pioneer Woman.com proclaims that she is not an expert at photoshop, she is lying. She is fantastic and gives all sorts of good tips. She posted a great one today that you can read here about actions in Photoshop. (Though the ones she highlights are not available in Elements, she also points out how to find ones for Elements.) I have also read posts of hers about how to make a fuzzy gray edge around your photo and how to make the eyes in a portrait really pop.

I have found that the record actions function is one of the best things around. I discovered this while making the infamous million calendars for Christmas. Below you will find a sample of April. The top calendar looked great on screen, but when I printed it, it was totally washed out. I discovered that if I merged the visible layers, rotated the canvas 90 degrees, and increased the contrast and saturation by about 23 apiece, the calendar printed the way it looked prior to those actions on the screen. The trouble was, that I would then have to follow those four not so easy steps for 48 different pages (4 tops and 1 bottom) to print each one. In order to save time, I recorded an action called "calendarize."

Looks a little freakish on screen, but once it is printed, it looks the same way the top one does, only on paper. Please note that each printer will have different settings, so my 23 in saturation and contrast might not work with your printer. You'll have to experiment. Yeah, that's my sister the homecoming queen. I know, she's beautiful.

You can record an action in Photoshop 7.0 by clicking on "Actions" in the "History, Actions, Tool Presets" box to the right of the screen. At the bottom of the little box now, there is a square that looks like a page is turning up. If you hold your mouse over the box without clicking, it will say "create new action." Then you know you are in the right place. So click on that button, and it will allow you to name your new action. Now, everything you do to your document will be recorded (notice the red circle that appeared indicating such) until you push the gray square that turns blue and says "stop playing/recording" when you hold the mouse over it.

I named my action calendarize, and then proceeded to merge visible layers, rotate canvas 90 degrees, increase the contrast by 23, and increase the saturation by 23. That was all I wanted to do to each page, so I pushed the stop key.

When you have finished the lengthy process that you want to use again and again, press the gray square, or stop button. Now, all you have to do is open the other document in which you would like to perform this action. Click on the "Action" tab again. Find your action by the title you gave it earlier. Press the "Play" triangle below, which turns green when you hold the mouse over it, and voila', you have just done like twenty things in one step. You are the boss of your Photoshop, the captain of your own destiny, if you will. Now, my daughter has been quiet too long, so I must away.

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