Discover advice from Photoshop pros on how to use Photoshop Actions in your work.
Ever wondered what inspires pro Photoshop Authors to make their creations? Or pondered the digital tools they couldn’t live without? What about their secrets for making a Photoshop Action a roaring success?
Well, you’re in luck. To celebrate Photoshop’s 30th birthday this year, we caught up with five incredibly talented creators from Envato Elements and GraphicRiver, each making waves within the community thanks to their own distinct styles and undeniable talent. Discover their tips and tricks.
First thing’s first, if you’re new to Photoshop Actions, they’re simply tools, or recorded commands, that allow you to add a series of effects to your files. They can save you time by reducing lengthy manual processes like batch editing to a single click. There are so many different Photoshop Actions out there, with examples including adding color gradients to images, editing photography to appear as if it’s drawn by pencil, or adding dynamic lines to produce high-energy imagery.
Read on as we grill five professionals for their Photoshop Actions tips, inspirations, as well as the digital tools they couldn’t live without.
When did your Photoshop journey begin?
GORYNART: It all started with retouching photos. Then it turned into work in photo studios, working on designer photo albums. Sometimes there was so much work that I had to study Actions to save time, but who knew that work with Actions has so many possibilities!
EUGENE-DESIGN: I got my first computer at 13. I didn’t have the internet, but my friend gave me a CD with software like 3ds Max and Photoshop—that’s how my digital art journey started.
BLACKNULL: I started playing with Photoshop in high school with a friend of mine, we had a lot of fun creating photo manipulations of muscular anime characters (Dragon Ball) using our faces.
GIALLO: I was sucked into this world of digital design in the mid-2000s when Collis and Cyan Ta’eed started PSDTUTS, now Tuts+. Collis’ tutorials actually inspired me to learn Adobe Photoshop.
PROFACTIONS: It was the first tool where you could earn money. Photoshop is still indispensable to our daily work.
Do you have any tips for getting started with Photoshop Actions?
PROFACTIONS: Listen and speak the language of your users and customers, learn new knowledge and skills every day and automate and digitize your product creation processes as much as possible.
GORYNART: Often it’s like freewriting. When you splatter paint on paper and smear it all over the canvas or when the hand draws patterns by itself, it leads to all sorts of happy coincidences. When you finally catch the idea and you have several options ready, you can start to record the Action.
EUGENE-DESIGN: The first thing I think about is ‘is it possible to create’? I can spend a few days trying to find the right algorithm, and there have been many times that I haven’t been able to. In that case, I move on to another idea.
GORYNART: The main goal is to save time—to make the desired picture in one click in which hours, days, or weeks would be spent otherwise. It can take a couple of days or weeks to create an Action. Some Actions are radical modifications of previous ones. For example, while making the Journal Art Photoshop Action, suddenly the Quick Sketch Photoshop Action emerged by adding new elements and different textures.
How do you find inspiration?
EUGENE-DESIGN: My main inspiration comes from video games, movies, and artwork by other artists.
BLACKNULL: I get inspiration from other digital artists on social media, but also from real-life experiences. Every time I see a cool visual effect I think if it would be nice to make a tool that automatizes it and I put it on a list.
GIALLO: I do what I think is new and has never been done before. I get inspiration from art websites but recently I’ve looked more to the past for traditional artistic effects.
PROFACTIONS: Behance, Pinterest, Dribbble. The idea that design can be programmed was the primary and most powerful driver for creating our first Photoshop add-on. We’re inspired by giving the opportunity to anyone—regardless of knowledge level—to become a digital artist, designer, or creator.
GORYNART: It’s very inspiring to visit sites like Behance, Dribbble, ArtStation, DeviantArt, as well as go to exhibitions of independent artists. I also get inspired by sketches from architectural projects, comics, book illustrations, old magazines and newspapers, and even fashion magazines. Everything new is a combination of the old.
What makes a good PS Action?
GIALLO: The presentation mostly. The user wants to buy the ‘dream’ of being able to make such an effect, and it’s driven by the beauty of the images they see. If the effect is very unique it’s also an incentive for people to buy it.
PROFACTIONS: Now there are a huge number of good authors and products on the market, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to stand out among them. However, we have our own success formula and we’re happy to share it with the Envato community. Unique idea + personal experience = outstanding add-on!
EUGENE-DESIGN: The main thing is the idea, and also the quality. If both things are awesome, the add-on will be popular.
BLACKNULL: Uniqueness, originality and also a good presentation.
GORYNART: A good add-on is the one that is on the tip of everyone’s tongue, but so far has not been created in the desired form. In the case of the Marker Sketch, a client contacted me and offered some examples of pictures for Action that he needed. I had ideas, but thanks to him there was a jolt of inspiration. I’m grateful to him because Marker Sketch turned out to be so needed by many customers. Convenience, ease of use and complete documentation add to the pleasant product experience.
Other than your own, what are your favorite Photoshop Action items?
EUGENE-DESIGN: I guess it’s SandStorm Action by Sevenstyles and Perfectum 2 by Profactions. There are so many other great actions by other authors, but I like these two the most.
BLACKNULL: I really love the work of some authors such as Sevenstyles, Giallo and Profactions.
PROFACTIONS: Those that save time. Simple technical tools that minimize repetitive routine activities and processes.
What else is essential to your Photoshop creators toolkit?
EUGENE-DESIGN: Zbrush, Procreate, Infinite Painter.
GIALLO: Services and networks that I use daily are: Dropbox Pro, Dribbble Pro, Google Drive, Facebook Ads, Behance, DeviantArt, Gmail, Twitter, Facebook Pages, Pinterest, and Reddit. FXBox is essential for me because I can also load my Plugins and create a unique library of effects.
GORYNART: Learning After Effects helped me understand Photoshop’s masks better. Masks are generally a gold mine where you can go crazy as you can process them with combinations of filters, apply layers differently and change the types of overlays.
BLACKNULL: I worked in the field of 3D animation and video production for more than eight years before diving into the creation of graphical goods for Photoshop. While working in that field, I learned a bit of every aspect of the visual content creation, from digital art to compositing, 3D modeling, video editing, and animation.
PROFACTIONS: Adobe Photoshop is our main tool. Our services are: Dropbox Paper, Google (Analytics, Gmail), and Toggl (time tracker).
If you’re inspired by our authors and want to start creating in Photoshop, check out the following tutorials over on Tuts+:
Over to You!
Whether you’re new to the world of Photoshop Actions, are looking to create Action in Photoshop, or have been following your favorite Authors for years, we hope you feel inspired to get out there and create! All Photoshop Actions mentioned are available within GraphicRiver or Envato Elements. Check out the full collection of Photoshop Actions from our five Photoshop Action authors interviewed, as well as the wider community!