Rising Spirit Photography


How To: Customize Downloaded Photoshop Actions Tutorial

There are plenty of free Photoshop CS5 actions for download online, but not all if them come with a customizable setup. Like my actions, some actions just run right through without allowing you to select the options that work best for your photos. There are ways around that. In this tutorial, I’m going to walk you through how to use my actions and how to change up the setting to fit your photos.

Once you have your file open and flattened, you are ready to use an action. I’ll start with this image of Emma Stone. This is not my image and I do not own the rights to this photo. We’ll simply use it as an example.


If, for the sake of this example, we use my Magic photoshop action, and you run it all the way through normally, you’ll end up with something like this image here:


Though the effect did what it was supposed to, the result is not exactly what we were hoping for this particular image. This doesn’t mean that the actions is useless for this photo, however, The trick is to edit a few of the steps so that the effect can work better with the particular lighting and color palate of this image. So, to start, go back to your original image in ‘History’. For this tutorial, we will need to work with the History and Actions tabs, so make sure to have those open. When you are back at your original image, go back into the Actions tab and find the action you are working with. In ‘Magic’, or whatever other action you are using, click the little arrow to the left of the title to open the list of actions. Under that, my actions have a ‘Play’ action right underneath it that will also need to be ‘unfolded’, so click the arrow next to Play. If you are using another photoshop action, click on the arrow next to whatever isdirectly underneath the action name. Basically, you just want to unfold the list of actions so that we can look at them step-by-step. If you are using Magic, your Actions list should look like this:


One thing to remember is that every new line is a new ‘mini action’, as I call it, (part of a large downloadable action), even if it does not have an arrow next to it. Alright, great. So, now you want to look at the list of actions and see where you may need some customization. Do you see the checkmark to left of every step of the action? Some of those checkmarks have an empty box to the right of them. You want to go down the list and select every one. It should look like this:


Make sure you go down the entire list for that specific action. This will prompt Photoshop to ask you what preferences you would like to choose when it comes to specific options of the action. Select ‘Play’ and let the action play out. When Photoshop promps whether or not you’d like to create a new layer or duplicate a layer, just click ‘Ok’. The only things you want to modify are color selections and things like Levels, Hue/Saturation, etc.

For the image I’m using for this tutorial, when prompted, I selected the following options:

Levels 39 1.38 249
Hue/Saturation (only) Reds 31, Lightness (for reds) -20
Blending Options, Lighten Opacity 67
Blending Options, Pin Light Opacity 69
Brightness/Contrast, Contrast 24
Pin Light, Opacity 49
Brightness/Contrast, Contrast 7
Brightness/Contrast, Brightness 3

In the end, I ended up with something like this:


After tweaking the eyes a bit with the dodge/burn tools, I ended up with the following result:

Before                                       After


And that’s how it’s done! Easy enough. If any of you have any trouble with anything, feel free to leave a comment and I’ll help you out. My Magic Photoshop CS5 action can be found in my previous blog post, and more to come! Thanks for checking out this tutorial, hope it helps! :)

You can find my other tutorials and free photoshop actions on my site here.