Actions

Now here is something you probably didn’t think much about.

Photoshop has a way to automate certain tasks that you do often. Do you hate having to manually write out your credits every time you create a tag? Why not make it easier!?

You can write an action to speed up your tagging pleasure.

This is going to seem like it is taking forever, but I promise, this will be the only time you have to do this. The rest of the times, it will just be a click of the button! Well, 3 clicks, but you get the idea.

I am going to write this tutorial for a 3 line copyright text. You will need to adjust this if you want it all on a singular line.

However, we need a little prep work.

Create a folder and name it “Copyrights-(company name here)”

Be sure to put this folder in a safe spot that you can remember.

Since I am going to be doing this action for my CDO license, I am going to name my folder “Copyrights-CDO”.

Go to the CDO website and make PNG files that contains each of the different artist’s copyrights.

Just be sure you check back often to keep them all up-to-date. Pay attention to any changes in the newsletters.

Here is an example I have. Just make one of these for every artist you use.

This is going to take some time. Lots of time… so much time. But it’s worth it with as many tags as you make, right?

I bet you are now wondering why I didn’t just tell you to make an image for every artist, right? Well, I couldn’t teach you how to write an action that way, now could I, smarty pants!?

You done? No? Still going? Ok. I will wait a little longer.

My reasoning is that some artist change companies, but they don’t change their website URL. This way, the image can be used across license numbers, later.

Done? Fantastic! Now we can begin.

Open a new image. Blank white canvas is ok because we don’t need to be working on an actual tag at the moment. It will also make things much easier to see. I have chosen 500×500 pixels. The size really doesn’t matter because it will work on all sizes when we are done.

Before we start writing the action, you need to have your actions panel open. Go to the top menu of Photoshop.

Window > Actions

You will see that there are already some default actions in your list. I never use those, so I just remove them from the panel.

If you want to remove them, and this will be handy later, simply highlight the folder (or the single action) and click the three lines at the top of the panel.



This will give you a clean playing field.

You cannot create actions without first creating folder to keep it in. This is called an action “Set.” It will come in handy when you want to save your actions for backup.

Create a folder for you Set.

Give your Set a name. I have just named mine “Copyrights”.

This will put an empty folder in your Actions panel.

Now that you have your set, you can add a bunch of actions into it.

Do this by clicking the “+” at the bottom of the Actions panel.

Give your Action a name. I have just called mine “CDO”.

As soon as you click that button, your action starts recording. The red circle at the bottom of the panel indications an action recording. Pay attention to that. I have accidentally recorded making an entire tag once. It wasn’t pretty. It slowed my PS wayyyyyy down and frustrated the crap out of me because I didn’t notice it was still running.

Anyway back to our copyright.

Create a Group on your canvas.

Layer > New > Group…

Name your group “Copyright”.

For some reason, Photoshop doesn’t like to let you place things directly into a folder, so we will need to create a temporary layer to serve as a base.

Layer > New > Layer

I just named mine “Temporary Layer”.

Now you will see that you are inside the group. The layer is indented to indicate that it is a “child” of that group.

Go to File > Place Embedded…

As you can see, the new file replaced the Temporary layer



Navigate to where you saved your copyright images.

Open one of them. It doesn’t matter which one. Just double click on it.

This will place the image directly in the center of your canvas. If it doesn’t then you MUST center it. I can’t stress enough that it must be in the middle of the canvas.

In the top menu:
Select > All
Layer > Align Layers to Selection > Vertical Centers
Layer > Align Layers to Selection > Horizontal Centers
Select > Deselect

I didn’t do this because my placed layer was centered. I may have to go back later and fix that. I will show you how after this.

Now, because we want to be able to choose a different copyright for each tag we create, we will need to make it editable. To do that, you will see little boxes beside each step.

Click that box and it will “fill” it with an icon. Since this one is a first step to get editable, it will also fill the top two icons, but don’t worry, that is just telling you that the action and the set have editable steps. Ignore those two.

Let’s continue. Are you still recording? Look at that red circle and check before you go on. Mine is off because I needed to take a moment to explain some stuff. Don’t worry, I turned it back on. (eventually…)

Use the type tool and choose the exact same font that you used to write the copyright text. This isn’t EXACTLY important, but it does make for a much better look.

DO NOT worry about it being exactly under the copyright text. We have to move it, anyway.

Be sure to actually add your license number, though…

Now you have two layers of text.

Your license layer is highlighted, right?

This is an important part. In order for your copyright text to line up perfectly for each tag you create, no matter the size, you MUST do this 4 step part.

In the top menu:
Select > All
Layer > Align Layers to Selection > Vertical Centers
Layer > Align Layers to Selection > Horizontal Centers
Select > Deselect

As you can see, this lined up the copyright and your tagline text.

Now, grab your move tool from the Tools panel.

Highlight your tagline and license number text layer.

DO NOT DRAG THE TEXT! I cannot stress this enough. DO NOT drag it. The actions do not like to pick up on manual click and drag tools like paint brushes, healing brushes, move tools, freehand selections, etc.

Instead, use the down key on your keyboard to move the text down under the copyright.

You will notice that the actions window doesn’t pick up on that part. However, if you would like to see that as a step, simply click the stop button (the square beside the record button) and then press record again.

Yeah. This is pretty, isn’t it?

We aren’t done, yet, though.

Highlight the “Copyright” GROUP in the layers panel. Make certain you are on the group and not a layer.

Here, you can add a layer style so your copyright text stands out in the tag.

Right click the layer group and choose Blending Options.

These are what I have used. I know it is in grayscale, but the magic comes later 😉

As you can see, I have two strokes on this style. If you press the little plus sign beside that option, it will allow you to have TWO of that option! Isn’t that awesome! Just be sure you are paying attention to which stroke is on top. …that sounded dirty…

Right click the layer Group in the layers panel and choose “Convert to Smart Object”.

Now your copyrights are all on one layer! How grand is that?

Set your blending mode to “Luminosity” and it will match any tag you put it on.

You are done! How about that! Press the stop button at the bottom of the panel.

This is what your action panel should look like, now.

But wait. There is quite a bit more information you need to know…

Did you screw up at any point in the action? If you did, you probably hit undo, didn’t you? Yeah, that may have been a mistake.

If you, at any point, hit the undo button, or you have toggled prior history states, you will have steps in your action that you don’t want.

But… there is a fix!

You can delete them.

Highlight the step you want to remove, then press the little trashcan icon at the bottom of the panel! Easy-peasy.

Now, let’s get out a tag and put that copyright on it.

Don’t have a tag to test it on? Then, it just looks like you are going to have to make one!

I’ll wait.

Done? Great! I bet it looks amazing 🙂

Make sure you have the topmost layer of your tag highlighted. Otherwise, you may lose it behind some elements or tubes.

If you want, you can “close” the steps by pressing that little arrow icon beside the title. It keeps things all neat and tidy.



Highlight the name of your action. Now press the play button at the bottom of the panel.

The only step you will need to do is navigate to the copyright text you want to use!

Now grab your move tool and place it where you want.

Notice the perfect blending of the copyright into the tag while still being readable? Magic!

Uh oh… I accidentally typed my copyright wrong. I should fix that.

Delete the copyright layer that we created. Back to the uncredited tag lol.

Back in the Actions panel, open up the action again by clicking that arrow beside the name. You will see all of the steps again.

Double click on the action for making the text layer.

You will notice that the play and record buttons press at the same time. This means that it is recording while playing.

Write out the text like you want it and then “commit” the text by clicking the check mark at the VERY top of your screen.

Once you commit the text, you will see that the record and play button have both stopped.

However, now you are stuck with an extra text layer on your canvas. Just delete it.

Now you can run your action again with the new license number!

Now that you have it perfect, let’s save it.

Highlight the ACTION SET (the folder you created earlier), then go back to those 3 lines at the top of the panel that I introduced you to earlier.

Choose “Save Actions”

This usually takes you directly the the Photoshop folder that keeps your actions safe. However, if you want to use them later, or keep a backup copy, choose another folder that you have handy for all of your backup purposes.

Always keep backups… always.

I hope you have enjoyed this little introduction to Action writing!

It may be complicated now, but if you keep at it, it will come as second nature!

Good luck and enjoy the journey!