One of the important features
that Adobe Systems added to Photoshop 4.0 was Actions and its availability
is continued with the current version of the program. Photoshop Actions
are "macros" or lists of instructions that enable users
to save a sequence of image-editing steps, then apply them in exactly
the same way to other files in the future. An action can be applied
to an entire photograph, a selected part of an image, or to many different
files in a batch operation. You can run or "play" an action
with certain steps disabled or have the script display selected dialog
boxes allowing you to interactively adjust settings. More and more graphics-
oriented software is being made actions aware. Extensis, for example,
produced an update to its Intelli-hance plug-in to make it actions aware.
The latest version of Intelli-hance Pro lets you use actions to batch
process the plug-in's enhancements of groups of images in a single
step--without ever leaving Photoshop.
Some sample actions are provided by Adobe on their Photoshop CD-ROM
and can be found in the "Goodies" folder. Another source
is the Adobe Applications Forum on Compuserve, but on the World Wide
Web, the best place to go for Photoshop Actions is Actions XChange at:
Take Action. After bypassing a few opening, introductory screens, you
quickly get to the main section of Action XChange, which is where all
of the web site's currently available 965 actions are found. On
this web page, Webmaster Joe Cheng has thoughtfully divided all of the
available actions into five major sections.
· Text Effects. This section contains 700 actions
that will not only create great looking special text effects but can
also be used to produce buttons with shadows and other graphic effects
for your web sites. Some of the actions found here include: Waterfall,
Blade (from the movie of the same name), and the script-like Zoe.
· Photo Effects. This will be the first place
most Shutterbug readers will head. In this section, you'll find
119 actions that can be used to modify, improve, and add creative edges
or tints to an image. Some of the actions here include: Egg, Painterly
Glass, and Shadow Lifter, which lightens dark images or shadowed portions
of digital photographs.
· Textures. The 59 actions found in this part
of the site can be used to produce many different kinds of texture effects,
from the mundane to the psychedelic.
· Actlets. Here are a group of 25 short cuts
that are designed to be incorporated into your keyboard's function
keys to make their execution even faster.
· Miscellaneous. This is the "kitch-en
sink" part of Actions XChange. If it doesn't fit in one
of the other four sections, it will be found here.
If you don't know where to start in the action-filled candy store,
check out the "Newest Actions" section which currently lists
such useful actions as Old Newspaper and Cheap Comic. A "Most
Popular" section lists the 10 most popular actions, including
Burning Pieces and Photo FX. If almost 1000 actions are not enough for
you, go to the Links section which offers 11 other action-oriented sites
including the Windows-oriented Kewlpack Software (www.kewlpack.com).
Another site worth a look is James Yardley's beautifully designed
Action Vault (http://actions.i-us.
Things To Keep In Mind. One of Photoshop Actions most
useful attributes is that they can be saved and shared with others.
Actions are cross-platform and use an ATN file type. If you create an
action on your Mac OS computer, anyone using the Win-dows version of
Photoshop can load and apply your original action. One of the main attractions
of actions is that they are convenient. Since the actions palette is
scrollable, you should keep all of your favorite actions stored there
ready for use.
Since most actions take less than 10K of hard disk space, don't
be worried about download time. Mac OS users can use a program such
as Aladdin System's StuffIt to decompress these Zip files. You
can download a freeware drag and drop copy of StuffIt Expander 5.1.3
from Aladdin's web site at: www.aladdinsys.com.
Windows users who don't already have a copy of PK Zip (or Unix,
for that matter), should visit PKWare's web site at: www.pkunzip.com.
When downloading ATN files from the Actions XChange or anywhere else
on the Internet, Mac OS users may encounter a "plug-in error"
message. If that happens, just click "Save to Disk" (Netscape
Navigator) or "Save As" (Internet Explorer) in the error's
The Webmaster requests that you register with the site but not registering
will not affect your ability to download actions and I have not experienced
any increase in spam (unsolicited e-mail) since registering. What I
have received are occasional bulletins from Cheng about what's
new at Actions XChange. If you ever plan on uploading any actions, you
will need to be registered and become a member. When you register, your
on-screen menu expands to include member preferences, direct access
to actions you've uploaded, and the ability to upload. My guess
is that part of this arrangement is for security purposes, although
I've never heard of any virus-related actions.
In Other Web News. Calumet announced a web site for
professional digital photographers at: www.calumetdigital.com.
The site features information on a wide range of digital imaging products
from companies such as Better Light, Kodak, and MegaVision and includes
output devices, computer systems, and accessories.
GearTrack is a shareware Win-dows program that allows photographers
to catalog photo equipment by serial number, model, brand, descriptions,
notes, print insurance, and inventory reports, and include images of
the equipment. The shareware fee for GearTrack is only $10 and can be
downloaded from www.spectracomputing.com/geartrack.html.
If you are interested in infrared photography, visit www.mat.uc.pt/~rps/photos/FAQ_IR.html#EXP.
This is a Frequently Asked Ques-tions (FAQ) site devoted to answering
19 of the most common questions that people have about IR photography.
If you think you or your company's web site should be featured
in an upcoming column, please send e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org.