(Edited with Chloe from The Fresh Collection)
A couple of days ago, we released three sets of Photoshop actions (compatible with Photoshop CS3 and newer) that we are incredibly proud of! Have you seen them? There are three collections: the Folk Collection, the Fresh Collection, and the Signature Collection (you can get all three here for a fancy discount!). We are so pumped to share these with everyone after months (Months! Crazy, right?) of brainstorming, changes, testing, and finalizing. I'm going to share with you a little of our process and a lot of what Photoshop actions are all about! So if you're feeling a little lost, hang on. :)(Edited with Spring, Stella, and Opal from The Signature Collection)
(Edited with Bridgette from The Fresh Collection)
So what are actions anyway? Photoshop actions are a fast and easy way to apply a wholly edited look to your photos. If you're familiar with Instagram and know how to apply filters to your photos, this is similar but is for Photoshop, with a LOT more variety and even more customization. Actions are easy to download and load into Photoshop, and they're fun and pretty addicting to play around with!
If you've never used actions before, you probably have a lot of questions! If you're wondering about how to tell if these actions are compatible with your program, or what version of Photoshop you have, or how to install the actions, you'll find answers and more on our Shop FAQ page.
A couple of side notes: Photoshop has traditionally been pretty pricey, but right now until the end of March, Adobe has a sweet deal: Photoshop + Lighroom are available in the Creative Cloud for only about $10 a month!! What!? Here's where you can find that deal.
Also, for those of you who are mainly using Lightroom but still own Photoshop, our friend Joey showed us a clever method of using Photoshop actions with your Lightroom export! We'll share a post about that soon. (Edited with Celeste and Pink Spot from The Fresh Collection)
(Edited with Lennon from The Signature Collection)
Elsie and I started this process a few months ago, in November of last year actually! It's been so fun to collaborate on something that is equally creative and technical. I wish you could see our first draft of actions! Actually, I take that back. I'm glad those will never be seen by anybody. Hah! It's a lot of tedious fine-tuning and testing, but it is absolutely worth the hours we both put into it to create something that will be strong and usable. The ultimate goal was really just to create actions that we ourselves would love to use every day for the blog—and we have been using them the past couple of weeks actually! :)(Edited with Luna from The Fresh Collection)
I'd like to share a little bit about our inspiration for each set of actions and the feel that they will give your photos, because each of the sets is very different!
The Folk Collection - This collection is the first one we completed and it's dear to my heart. When I think of this collection, I think of things that are warm and familiar: an old box of photos, road trips, multiple cups of coffee, dreary days, or putting on a record. I think these actions are full of rich character and are the perfect amount of moody. The Fresh Collection - We created this collection while I think we were all dreaming of a Palm Springs getaway during winter months! It's a set full of bright whites, vivid colors, and is made to enhance modern design and fun, colorful portraits. We really love this set.
The Signature Collection - This is our go-to collection for everyday. We've been using these looks the most here on A Beautiful Mess. They're reliable, sharp, and consistent! This collection has a great versatile range of actions, from soft to bold, warm to cool, and something for every season. There are a couple of ways to get the MOST out of your actions! Of course these will all be great if you play them as they come, but we have some fun ways of stretching them further to create even more different looks. (Edited with Lucy from The Folk Collection)
The first thing you can do is to play with the layers that come with each action. When you play an action, you'll end up with several adjustment layers in your Layers window. Turn each layer off and back on (by clicking on the eyeball icon to the left of the layer) to see what each layer does! You can turn black and white actions into color actions that way, or lessen contrast and saturation--whatever you want to do! You can turn down the opacity of any layer, too, if your action happens to look a little too intense on your image. (These photos are both edited with Magnolia B&W from The Signature Collection! The photo on the right has the "black and white" layer turned off.)
Another thing you can do if you're feeling extra creative is to mix up your actions! I like to think of mixing actions like creating photo recipes. You can play more than one action on an image and adjust the overall opacity on each action until you create a brand new look that you like! This is a great way to find a look that is unique to your style. (Before and after: edited with Phoenix from The Fresh Collection, Margeaux and Light Leak 2 from The Folk Collection, and Frankie from The Signature Collection.)
Here's a quick tutorial video on using and combining your Photoshop actions:So how do you find your own style with these actions? A great way to get started is to choose one well-lit photo (use window lighting if possible! If you don't have any photos on hand, try taking a quick self-portrait by a window, or facing a window that does not have direct sunlight coming through it.) and play each action on it. Play around with changing the opacity too. We like to say not all photos are created equal, and some actions might look amazing on a bright photo, and some might look amazing on dark photos. Have a pen and paper on hand to write down your favorites or your favorite action combinations! The more you use them, the more you'll become familiar with what each action can do for your photos. It's like our moms always told us: Practice makes perfect. (Edited with Willis and Light Leak 3 from The Folk Collection)
We'd love to see how you are using your actions! If you have any edited photos you are super proud of, please share them with us. Email us at elsie AT redvelvetart DOT com or sarah AT redvelvetart DOT com. And if you've blogged about using the A Beautiful Mess actions be sure and send us a link! We are excited to see what you all create! (Edited with Lola from The Fresh Collection)
(Edited with Imogen from The Folk Collection)
If you have any questions about adding these Photoshop actions to your style and workflow, just ask us in the comments below! You can also find a bunch of answers, some more videos, and lots of info on our Shop FAQ Page. We're really excited about these and I'm convinced these are going to totally up your photography game, whether it be your business, your blog, or your personal everyday photos! And don't forget to let us know what your faves are. :) xo. Sarah (+ Elsie)
P.S. We're definitely considering doing Photoshop Elements versions of these actions. It would just require a complete rebuild, so we plan on doing a reader poll in the coming weeks to see how many of you would be interested.
Credits // Author & Photography: Sarah Rhodes & Elsie Larson