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Photoshop Actions: What Are They, Anyway?
Photoshop Actions are essentially a series of recorded steps done in a process. When someone creates an action, they go through a process of steps to achieve a desired effect in Photoshop. When played back, the program will go down the list of steps in the Action file and enter in the saved settings one by one with little to no user input.
This can make repetitive processes such as resizing a lot of images very quick. It can also make long processes - such as adding certain multi-step image effects to photos - very quick. What used to take 15 minutes or longer now can be boiled down to 15 seconds or less. This beginner's tutorial will teach you how to use Photoshop actions, as well as downloading and installing them. This tutorial used Adobe Photoshop CS4, but will easily work for anything from Photoshop 6.0 and up.
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Downloading and Installing Actions
First, you need to find somewhere that has a Photoshop Action that you would like to use. There are hundreds of places on the internet that you can go to download free Photoshop action files. I personally prefer deviantART.com as a lot of very professional artists provide resources for free there. A quick Google search will yield hundreds of great results, though.
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Download the Action file. If the file is an .ATN file, you can skip to the step below. If the file is a .ZIP or a .RAR file, you've got to unpack the files. Here's a helpful article on how to unpack .RAR files.
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Once you have an .ATN file (or possibly several) open the folder that contains Photoshop. This typically looks something like this:
C:\Program Files (x86)\Adobe\Photoshop CS4
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Importing and Using Photoshop Actions
Go ahead and open Photoshop, and take a look at the Actions window. If it isn't open by default, simply go to Window in the top menu and click "window." Now, pay attention to the little box that has an arrow pointing downward and a list next to it (highlighted in orange in this image).
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This tutorial uses screenshots from Adobe Photoshop CS4 and is intended for educational purposes only. The Photoshop Action used was Cross Processing ATN by mutato-nomine on deviantART. Thank you for making such a great Action available for public use!