To make the process of repeating these tasks easier, Photoshop allows you to create "Actions".
Actions are simply a way to program a series of tasks in a sequence so that a designer does not have to remember each of them and perform them by hand. They can be created by anyone as easily as pushing a record and stop button and once built they can be used over and over again or even packaged and transferred to other users of Photoshop.
Many photographers and companies create actions and share or sell them to other photographers and designers to save them the time of creating them themselves.
PORTRAIT PERFECTION FOR PHOTOSHOP
Of course you must have Photoshop or Lightroom before you can use these tools which are add-ons to the Adobe program. Once purchased, you receive a download link for a compressed zip file that contains an ".atn" file which contains the actions. It is very easy to install them as you simply click on the file and it opens in Photoshop.
The Portrait Perfection collection includes many subsets of actions useful for creating different effects. Some may appear to make very subtle changes, while others require "painting" selected areas of your image where you want an effect applied. Some are quite useful while others feel more like Instagram filters. Most actions perform as advertised and some of the simpler ones like brighten or darken improve upon a built in tool like "Brightness". All will save you time obtaining an effect that would take several steps to create.
|"Portrait Perfection" effects applied to an image.|
The names of the actions help you know what an action is for, however there are names that are not so clear. It may take some experimenting to decide which action is best for your needs. Sleeklens has a YouTube Channel that provides help in understanding how to use these actions in your workflow. Once you get to know them you will likely find ones you like and will use frequently. You will also discover in many cases you will need to combine or "stack" different actions to create a final look you are working toward.
Some actions are destructive to your original image - they change the image you have loaded into Photoshop. So be sure you have another copy before using these actions and do not save an altered image over your original when you are done.
Other actions are non-destructive, allowing you to adjust the changes made or even remove them entirely, leaving you with your original image in tact.
It is possible to edit the actions and in some cases simply removing a "flatten" task at the end of an action will make it non-destructive. Why Sleeklens decided to make these actions destructive I cannot say, as it seems to me it would have been better not to. They do include comments which warn you of this and provide tips on how to use the actions.
There are also some actions which have a number of redundant steps which waste processing time. For example, hiding and then showing a layer. I can only imagine that the person creating the action was experimenting as they created it and never removed the redundant or useless steps once they were done. The end result is the same either way, but these steps are not necessary and take extra time as they process.
If you edit and make changes to these actions, be sure to save them as it is possibly for them to disappear from Photoshop. I have had this experience and it was not fun to have to recreate my actions over again! Of course if you do not modify them, then it is a simple matter of going back to the download and reloading them.
Editing choices, like photography itself, can be very subjective and what one person loves another might detest. You will need to experiment with different actions you will work with and combine them to give you the results you think are best.
Some of my favorite actions in this set are:
- Temperature: while it seems to be a relatively simple task, adjusting color temperature in Photoshop can be a relatively difficult task. These two actions make it somewhat easier.
- Fast Retouch: This action provides a set of simple tools to do common tasks when retouching portraits - softening skin, whitening teeth and eyes and giving color to the cheeks.
- Light Glow: While the built in lighting effect does an interesting job of lighting an area of the image and the rendered lens flare can provide a light source and resulting lens effect, this light glow can give a nice soft added light flare.
- Candy Store: Some very common effects are included in this set such as dodge and burn, a non-destructive and selectable sharpen and a more advanced portrait retouch.
- Web Preparation: So often photos are being prepared for the web and these tools help to resize the images quickly and keep them sharp.
You can find the Portrait Perfection set here:
Sleeklens also offers a professional photo editing service:
For a complete catalogue of Photoshop actions, check here: