Hello, and happy August! Summer’s almost over, school’s starting soon….. are you ready?!
It’s me, Stephanie. And this month, I’m going to show you some Photoshop (PS) shortcuts that I’ve created to simplify my layout creation processes. I don’t know about you, but sometimes it takes me forever to put together a layout. So if I can find a way to shorten the process – even if it’s just by eliminating a few keystrokes or not having to search menus for something – I go with it! Because time is one thing that it seems I’m always short on, but if I can even fit in ONE extra summer layout before the fall, I’ll be happy!
So, what I have are some actions that I have created, based on tasks that I seem to find myself performing over and over again every single time I scrapbook. While they might seem like simple, everyday tasks in PS, by shortening the process for them I’ve eliminated having to remember how to do some of them, or where to find items in the menus. Not to mention – how nice is it to be able to click one button and have it done for you?! My theory is, less is more, when it comes to keystrokes and mouse-clicks!
What I am going to show you this month, is what I have created and use every time I work in PS. Some of them are template actions for simple items and processes that I find myself using over and over, such as photos, journal cards, and flair. They help me complete the process much faster, when all I have to do is click*click and then move things around to where I want them, and start loading pictures and elements to them. The rest of them are shortcut actions that basically just do a task with one single click. I’ll give an overview of what each action does, and how I use it. Before I finish up, I am also going to give you a brief lesson on how you can make your own action for any simple task that maybe you find yourself doing over and over as well. And as a bonus, I have also included a download for each of my actions. So you can download them too, and try them out!
The first ones I am showing you are some template tools that I use for pretty much every layout.
1. 12 x 12 Digital Scrapbook Layout – With Guides
This is the first action I run when I open up PS to start a new layout. When you activate it, it opens up a 12×12 page layout with the standard digital settings (12×12 inches, 300 ppi resolution, 8 bit RGB, and transparent background). I’ve also included guides at 1 inch increments. I find that helps me with placement. (Hint: you can turn the guides on and off with a simple keyboard shortcut that is already built into PS – just click CTRL and ; and it will turn on/off guides if you prefer to work without them, or if you are done using them and want to shut them off).
2. Photo Shapes – With and Without Borders
I usually use the following photo sizes in my layouts: 3×3, 3×4, 4×3, 4×6, and 6×4. Depending on the layout, sometimes I like to use a border around my photos, and other times I don’t use one. I have an action to create a template in each of my favorite photo sizes, both with and without a border. I think they’re pretty cool…. and I use them as a clipping mask.
3. Journal Card – 3×4 and 4×3 Variations
Whether I need to make a journal card, or a filler card, I get a lot of use out of these templates. Sometimes I’m making a layout and I’ve already used most of the cards from the kit I’m using, and I just need that one more filler card to fill ONE more space on my page. And that’s where you can just use this to make a quick journal card. Or maybe you like to play around with making some of your own journal cards, too… either way, this is one action that I rarely can complete a layout without using at least once! My favorite part about the action – I have it built in the action to open a 5×5 inch page for you to make your journal card on, and it’s a completely new document in PS. I completely LOVE that! I can build my journal card, merge layers, or do whatever I need to do to complete the journal card. Then when it’s done, I just drag it onto my 12×12 layout. This separate PS document also makes it much easier to save your journal card as a stand alone element, so you can reuse it on another layout if you like.
I can’t help myself – I am hopelessly addicted to flairs! Buying them, making them….. I just love them – they rock! I have created 2 separate flair actions so that making a flair is super quick and easy. These actions are AWESOME! It makes flair making so fast and eliminates about a MILLION layer style settings (not really, but it does eliminate A LOT of settings). And I’ll be the first to admit, I could never remember all the settings without it to make a flair “from scratch, the hard way”. So for this action, I run Flair – Step #1. It opens a new PS document (separate from your layout, for easy editing and saving), and creates a 1.5 inch circle template. With this circle template, I create my flair – either by using it as a clipping mask, adding a pattern to it, or maybe some text and color.
Once I’m ready to add some dimension to the flair, I merge all of the layers together and run Flair – Step #2 action. Once that action is finished running, I have an awesome looking flair element.
Now, onto the actions for some simpler PS tasks, the ones that I like to call “hotkey” actions, or keyboard shortcut actions. They are my most simplest of tasks, the ones that I use repeatedly Yes, they are the easiest of easy tasks, but they are even easier when you only have to click on the play button to perform them! Time saver! Not to mention, saves me from having to remember each of the steps and menu items for some of them!
1. New Layer
New Layer, creates a new layer. I don’t know about you, but I am frequently needing to add a new layer to my layout in order to create something new. So I run this action, and I have a brand new layer directly above the layer that I was currently working on.
Centering an object is a function that I perform a lot. I don’t like to have to drag things and look at the rulers all the time to line them up, so for me, creating an action that centers an object on my layout was a great idea. A simple task that would otherwise take a few clicks on different menu items – but with the action, I just select my item, run the action, and my item is centered.
3. Duplicate Layer
Duplicate layer is a pretty self explanatory action. I know it’s a very basic task, but… still – press a single button, or use your menu? I go with the “press a single button” option every time!
This action just rotates your page in 90 degree increments. I happen to find it handy to have it as a single step action instead of having to use the PS menu to do a rotate.
Rasterize. I rasterize all the time, this is probably one of my most commonly used actions. This action will rasterize the current layer.
6. Convert to Smart Object
If rasterize was ONE of my most used actions, convert to smart object IS my most commonly used action. I like to apply multiple layer styles to my elements. One thing about PS is that you can only apply a single layer style to an item, unless you convert it to a smart object after every new style. So, this action works great for me to just apply several styles in a rapid manner. Apply style, run the Convert To Smart Object Action, apply another style, run the action again, and keep repeating until I have the result I am looking for!
So, what about YOU? Is there something you do over and over again in PS? Consider creating a simple action to shorten the process. As you can see, some of my actions are SO SIMPLE, but they make something simple into something I can do almost without having to think about it! And once you make your first action, I promise you will suddenly be thinking of another task you can shorten by making another action. They’re really not hard to make at all. I’m going to show you how to make a very basic action… and I’m sure once you try it, you’ll see it’s really not a difficult process. For this example, I’ll show you how I made one of my photo mask actions.
And, now you have created a new action. This process also works for menu items, so if you can think of other tasks that you want to create an action for, just follow steps 2, 3, and 4 to start creating a new action for that too!
Thanks for checking out my blog post today! As promised, click HERE for your link to all of my actions that I have just shown you. I hope they save you some time too! Please feel free to leave a comment!
Have a great time scrapping and saving time doing it!