Photoshop: Lesson 1 – How to make an "Action"

Photoshop Action

You’ve shot your 360º product images and now they’re ready to be edited.  Get ready, I’m going to teach you a lot of neat stuff. Here we go!

First, let’s learn a new term: “Photoshop Action”.  Some like to call it “ActionScript” (without the space in-between, for some reason), but it means the same thing.  For simplicity, let’s just call it an “action”.  So what is an action?  Good question…

An action is a recording of all the stuff you did in Photoshop.  Photoshop has the ability to record everything you do onto a list.  This “list of stuff you did” is the action. Once you’re finished recording an action, you can “play it back” and just like an obedient computer program, it will actually perform all of the things you recorded.  And there’s one more thing: when it plays back an action, it will do it much much much much faster than even the fastest human in the world!  Actions are supercharged workaholics.

But let’s take a step back to look at the big picture now.  You need to do several highly repetitive tasks in Photoshop to edit your 360º product images.  So…
Can an action help automate this?
Can it speed up your workflow a lot?
Can it edit unlimited images with 100% consistency all day long?

Yes, yes and yes. Simply put, Photoshop is the most powerful program for professionally editing 360º product images, and an actions is the key to unlock this untapped powerhouse. Soon you’re going to become a master at it!

How to make an “Action” in Photoshop

It’s important to build a strong foundation, so the rest of this lesson with cover the most important and fundamental stuff first. Every future lesson will build off of this one, so pay close attention.

Open image

Open an unedited JPG image in Photoshop (preferably a 360º product image that’s straight out of your camera).

Actions tab in Photoshop

 Display the Actions Pallet (Window > Actions)

Actions palette in Photoshop

Create a new “Set” and name it “360 view edit”.  By the way, a “Set” is just like a folder on your desktop, but in this case it’s a special folder in Photoshop that just holds your new actions.

Create new Action

Click on the “create new action” button.  It looks like a white piece of paper with a fold on the bottom left corner.  You can name the action whatever you want, but for this lesson you can just leave it to its default name: “Action 1/2/3/etc.”.  In this demo the default name is “Action 3″.

Record Action

Click the “record” button.  Now it’s going to record basically everything you do.

Okay, I lied. Photoshop will not record everything you do; for example, it will not record brush strokes or clone stamps.  But it will record all of the important stuff we need to automate.  For this lesson, crop your image to exactly 2560×1920 pixels, and then sharpen it.  Don’t worry, Photoshop will record this.

Crop image 

Crop to 2560×1920 pixels

Sharpen filter


Record Sharpen Filter

 So far so good?  Okay, let’s stop here.  Click the “Stop” button.

Save changes to images

Close your image and click “Don’t Save”

Quit Photoshop

Quit Photoshop.  

Yep – that’s right.  It’s important to quit photoshop.  What?! How come?!  Because Photoshop has not saved your new action yet.  It will only save your new action after you completely quit Photoshop.  What if you don’t?  Well, let me tell you a story.  Years ago I spend a whole work-day making a killer action that saved me a ton of time.  Then Photoshop crashed!!  Because I didn’t quit Photoshop before it crashed, my beloved action was not saved.  A whole day of work went down the toilet.  I learned my lesson the hard way, and I developed a strong habit of frequently quitting photoshop while making a new action.  You get to learn from my mistakes.

Open original image

Open your original, unedited image again in Photoshop.

Click on Action

Click on the new action you just made.

Click "Play" button

Click the “play” button.  Watch the magic unfold ;-)

In the next lesson (lesson 2), I’m going to teach you how to make a simple yet clever action for batch editing your 360º product photos.  It’s going to be sweet. 

Get stuck on any steps? Let me know and I'm happy to help you troubleshoot.