Al Ward's Photoshop Productivity Toolkit: Over 700 Time-Saving Actions | 3 | WebReference

Al Ward's Photoshop Productivity Toolkit: Over 700 Time-Saving Actions | 3

Al Ward's Photoshop Productivity Toolkit: Over 700 Time-Saving Actions

Playing Actions: List Mode

To play actions while the Actions palette is in List mode, you have a couple of options. The primary thing to keep in mind is the difference between an action set and an action: if the action set selected, the option to play is not available. An action within a set must be selected in order to play anything. This may seem redundant, but this mistake is actually quite prevalent among those just starting with actions. In Figure 2.11, an action set (AFX-CloudsOverWaterCS) is selected. Note that the Stop, Record, and Play buttons at the bottom of the palette are grayed out. Opening the Actions palette menu will reveal that the play function there is not available as well.

Figure 2.11 Actions cannot be played if an action set is selected.

Selecting an action within the set (see Figure 2.12) makes the control buttons for the action available. Also, the Play function returns in the Actions palette menu.

Figure 2.12 Selecting an action within a set gives control over the action back to the user.

To play an action in List mode, follow these steps:

1. Load an action set into the Actions palette (if the action set is not already resident in the palette).

2. Expand the action set containing the action you want to play.

3. In the Actions palette, select the action you want to play.

4. You can now play the action in one of three ways:

Figure 2.13 Clicking the Play Selection button plays the selected action when the Actions palette is in List mode.

To demonstrate how easy this really is, load the action set AFX-CloudsOver-WaterCS found on the CD in the Chapter 2 folder. This action creates its own document, so do not be concerned about having a photo open. Now follow these steps:

1. Expand the CloudsOverWaterCS action set.

2. Select the action CloudsOverWaterCS.

3. Click the Play Selection button at the bottom of the Actions palette.

4. Carefully follow the directions that appear. In this particular action, the only command that you need really be concerned about is entering the text with the Type Mask tool, instead of the standard Type tool. The Type Mask tool appears as a capital T made of dotted lines , or marching ants.

When this command appears, be sure to use a large font size as requested in the Stop message (see Figure 2.14).

Figure 2.14 In order for the action to run properly, follow the Stop messages carefully.

5. After you meet the conditions in the Stop message, click the Play Selection button again (found at the bottom of the palette).

6. The action should play through to completion to the final Stop message (see Figure 2.15). Click OK.

Figure 2.15 A final Stop message can display information about the action or designer and even advertise.

Your new document should have created text that appears to be filled with cloudy variations between white and blue, with a rough outline around the text (see Figure 2.16).

Figure 2.16 If an action has performed as expected, the results should be nearly identical to those seen when it was first recorded.

Note: cloudyText.psd. To see the color version of the image created by this action, check the color section of this book. It is also on the CD in the Chapter 2 folder, as cloudytext.psd.

If you have made it this far with a decent understanding of how to load and play actions, you have mastered a large part of the learning curve attached to actions. Something as seemingly simple as loading and playing these scripts stops many people in their tracks. Just remember: large meals are conquered in small, bite-sized pieces.

Editing Actions

If you are wondering why this section on editing actions comes before the section on recording actions, which is covered in Chapter 3, let me explain.

In my experience, I've found that people learning actions for the first time often attempt to conform an existing action to their particular need. Most people use prerecorded actions made by other people before creating their own. That';s why I teach actions in this order and why I'm structuring the book in this way. Demonstrating editing actions on an existing action is simply easier than going through the recording process and then doing the editing. When we reach that point in Chapter 3, I'll review how to edit your own actions.

Note: You can edit actions only with the Actions palette in List mode.

With actions, nothing is written in stone; you can add to them or subtract from them, rearrange the order of commands within an action, or even add commands from other actions. You might want to edit an action for any of several reasons:

Created: March 27, 2003
Revised: September 3, 2004