Al Ward's Photoshop Productivity Toolkit: Over 700 Time-Saving Actions | 4 | WebReference

Al Ward's Photoshop Productivity Toolkit: Over 700 Time-Saving Actions | 4

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

Turning Commands On and Off

Commands within an action can be toggled on or off, giving you the option to play each command or bypass recorded commands within the action during playback. To turn commands on and off, you need only check or uncheck the Toggle Item On/Off check box corresponding to the command on the left side of the Actions palette. Figure 2.17 shows an expanded action with all commands toggled on and then shows the same action with the Invert and Convert Mode commands toggled off.

Note: If you want to run an action several times, but it has a Stop describing what the action does, you might not want the action to stop and display the message each time it is played. Read it once, and then tog-gle the Stop off.

Figure 2.17 Unchecking the Toggle Item On/Off check boxes tells the action to bypass the command during playback. In (a) all commands are toggled on; in (b) two commands are toggled off.

The ability to toggle commands on and off is helpful if actions perform more than one task. Let's say you have a single action that converts an image to grayscale, reduces the image to thumbnail size, and saves the image at a reduced resolution to a new folder for use on a web page or photo gallery. Perhaps after the web page is designed, you decide that the thumbnails need not be gray but would look better in color. Rather than deleting the command entirely (you might want other thumbnails to be gray in the future), you can simply toggle the command that does the grayscale conversion off so that when the action is played on a new image, the color is retained but the size is still reduced and the image saved as before.

Here's something to keep in mind, especially when working with actions that have commands that look for specific conditions carried out earlier in the same action. If you toggle a command off, and the action later tries to perform a function that is based on the conditions met by that command (such as the renaming of a layer), either the action will stop and display an error message, or the end result may be quite different from what you expect.

For instance, let's say at the beginning of the action, you record a step that duplicates the Background layer. The new layer is called Background Copy by default. For the remainder of the action, the steps interact with the Background Copy layer in some way. If you toggle off the step that copies the Background layer and then play the action, you will receive error messages every time the action tries to find the Background Copy layer, as none is created. Chapter 3 covers problems such as this in the section on troubleshooting.

Editing Commands in the Action

Omitting or including commands in an action is as simple as toggling the commands on or off. Between the Toggle Item On/Off check boxes and the actions command list is a series of boxes. These represent commands that have dialog boxes attached to the command, wherein the settings can be changed. Figure 2.18 shows the modal controls (Toggle Dialog On/Off) for the dialog boxes.

Figure 2.18 Dialog boxes attached to commands may open with the modal control on (box filled). When the modal control is off, the command applies the original setting.

You can edit commands with attached dialog boxes when the modal control corresponding to the command is filled with a miniature representation of a dialog box. This causes the dialog box for that command to appear at that stage in the action where the settings for that command can be changed or accepted. You can accept the default settings, or settings that were originally recorded in the action, each time by unchecking the modal control.

For example, load the action set AFX-SketchesCS-1.atn. I'll demonstrate using the photo 0770143_HIGH.jpg, supplied by (see Figure 2.19).

Figure 2.19 Image of a praying woman, supplied by

1. With AFX-SketchesCS-1.atn action set loaded into the Actions palette, expand the set and select AFX-PencilSketch, the topmost of two actions in the set.

2. Turn off the modal controls for all commands with attached dialog boxes (see Figure 2.20).

3. Play the action.

Figure 2.20 With modal controls turned off, the action will run through to completion, provided there are no errors, without asking for user input.

When this action has run through to completion, you will have an image that appears to be a pencil drawing made with soft strokes, as in Figure 2.21. You can alter the end result by having the dialog boxes open and check or edit the settings for each. Give that a try now.

Figure 2.21 Result of the action AFX-PencilSketch.

1. Open the History palette and click the image icon at the top to return the document to its original state.

2. Select the action AFX-PencilSketch once again.

3. Turn on the modal controls for each command, as shown in Figure 2.22.

Figure 2.22 The AFX-PencilSketch action, but with the modal controls turned on in the Actions palette.

4. Rerun the action.

5. When the Duplicate Layer dialog box opens, click OK to accept it.

6. When the Layer Styles/Blending Options dialog box opens, make no changes and click OK.

7. The Gaussian Blur dialog box opens. For this particular effect, the amount of Gaussian Blur applied to the layer the action has selected dictates the strength or the darkness of the pencil effect. By adjusting the amount of Gaussian Blur, as I've done in Figure 2.23 by increasing the blur radius to 250 pixels, I can darken the detail and shadow of the sketch.

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