Tear Drop Fascinator DIY - For Costumes!

Hello everyone. I know, I know, it's been awhile. Know that I AM still scrapbooking all the time, but I haven't had much new to share in the digital scrapbooking realm. However, I thought I would write a tutorial on a project I've been working on. No, it's not EXACTLY Photoshop, though I did use it in the project, but it's still a fun DIY so I thought I'd share!

As you may know, I have an after school ballroom team at my school. We've been getting our costumes together in preparation for our first performance next month. The dresses are done, but I have a lot of extra fabric and as I was thinking about the hairstyle we could use, it occurred to me that it might be fun to make a little hat--which is, apparently, called a fascinator. Did not know that before yesterday. Anyway, as I was looking online for tutorials, I couldn't find what I was looking for. Many of them required the use of a fascinator base. I, however, have to make 12 of these on a budget, and didn't want that extra expense. As making them waterproof is not a priority, since it's for a costume, I felt that using paper would work just fine. And they turned out great!

Now, I am going to take you through my process--and know that I used Photoshop and my Silhouette machine to do it. But you don't need to take those steps--you can do it by hand. But let me tell you, there are times when my Photoshop skills really do make things easier and more exact, and this is one of them! (If you keep scrolling down you will see the links to the video tutorials on Youtube.)

What You Will Need:

1. A piece of white cardstock paper
2. The fabric you want to use (I used a satin)
3. Tulle fabric
4. Glue gun
5. Needle and thread
6. Thin elastic
6. Photoshop and Silhouette machine OR a marker and cardboard to make a pattern.

Step 1:

First I determined the shape and size of the fascinator I wanted to create. At this point, if you are just going to draw it, do so on a thick piece of cardboard or on cardstock. I suggest you fold it in half and cut one side, so that it's even on both sides.

For me, I opened up Photoshop (Illustrator would be better but I don't know it very well!) and drew the shape I wanted using a circle shape and tear drop shape, then meshing them together. Then I did a CTRL-Click on the layer to highlight the shape and then did edit>stroke and make a 3px black stroke. Then I made the colored layer invisible and saved the file as a .png. If you want the .png file I created, you can get it here.

Step 2:

I pulled the png file into my silhouette machine and traced the shape. I also added a short line at the base where I could over lap it to give the hat a rounded top. Going to this extra effort--instead of just cutting it out--was worth it to me because I had to make 12 of them! It also came in handy cutting out the fabric. I then cut out 12 of the hats on white card stock paper.
If you have a Silhoutte, you can use the file shown left as well. Get it here.

Step 3:

Using a glue gun, I overlapped the cut section to give the hat a popped up look. But I kept it very slight.

Step 4:

Next, I cut out the fabric I needed. I used my Silhouette for this, too! I took the same shape as above and deleted the line for overlapping. Then I made it a little bit smaller and cut 12 of those out of the fabric--this would go on the inside of the hat. I then made the teardrop bigger than it had been originally and cut those out--that would be for the top of the hat. Again, you don't have to have a Silhouette for this, it just makes it easier--especially when you have to make 12 of them! (Remember to use a different blade with fabric than with paper.)

Step 5:

Using a glue gun, I took the larger fabric and glued down the tip of it onto the inside of the hat. Then I pulled in the two sides. I found it was easier to stretch it over the top and glue the back of the hat, so I knew how much I needed to work in. Then, I glued it all around the edges, slowly easing it in with folds until it was even.

Step 6:

Next, I glued around the edges of the smaller fabric, one bit at a time, and glued it to the inside of the hat.

Step 7:

Next I added thin elastic to the sides to help hold it on, though we will also use bobby pins to get it just right. I just hot glued the elastic on.

Step 8:

You could decorate this a million ways, but this is how I did it. I got the tulle (it was a 6" roll) and glued a segment on to the back side of the hat, pressing down against the hat. I left a tail behind big enough to make a loop. Then I pulled it across the front and around the back, and glued it down in the same spot.

Step 9:
I made two loops, and made a third loop with the tail I left behind. Using a needle and thread, I sewed throughout the bottom of the 3 loops to hold them in place, and knotted it. All done! So easy! I made all 12 in only a couple hours--the "extra work" of using my Silhouette was totally worth it and saved me tons of time, plus they were all exactly the same size!

Watch it step by step with my easy Youtube tutorials!

Part 1 - Photoshop and Silhouette Tutorial

Part 2 - Making the Hat Tutorial

2014 Yearbook has Arrived! Another Success from MyPicTales!

So I got my new 2014 Yearbook. One of my favorite days of the year! Once again, I got it printed through the company MyPicTales. You can read my review on last year's book here.

I am thoroughly impressed with this company and their products and price. NO THEY ARE NOT PAYING ME TO SAY THAT!!! I just want to encourage anyone who is looking for a good place to print to consider this company. My 8 1/2 x 11 book is 120 pages. I was able to get a coupon for 30% off, and the entire thing only cost me $75 to print! Unbelievable!

Here is my review--even though it's not that much different from last year's--though it is BETTER.

Price★ Being accustomed in the past to paying over $120 for a book with 100 pages, I was once again blown away by the price. The original price was about $90, but I was able to get a 30% discount and got it for $75! When you sign up for their mailing list you get a 25% off coupon anyway--so that alone is worth it! 

Ease of Use★ I love the editor that comes with this site. You download it and upload your stuff to it. Now--I don't use it to DESIGN my pages. I just upload my pages that are already created in Photoshop. You can upload them as a two-page layout, which I really liked. I make my pages in Photoshop as 11x17, and design the entire full page layout. Then I can just upload it a 2-page layout. The best part? Once I upload it, if I make a change to it in Photoshop and then save it--it AUTOMATICALLY changes it in the MyPicTales editor. I don't have to re-upload it. Saves me boatloads of time during my final editing phase. Because my book is so big, I was unable to submit it directly. I had to contact the company, but was able to place it in a shareable Dropbox file and it was super easy.

Shipping★ In the past I've had to wait some 2-3 weeks for my book. This one I ordered on the 1st (which was a Friday) and it arrived on the 8th. Not bad! Shipping price was also reasonable. 

Cover: ★ The cover is awesome and the wrap-around part is my favorite! It looks so great on my shelf with all my other books! WAY more interesting than the plain one-color option I had with my old company. I will say that designing the cover in Photoshop to fit correctly in the editor took many tries, but I got it eventually.

Binding Last year I did not give four stars to the binding, but this year it gets full marks! No glue showing, and you can't see the stitching at all when you open the book.

Margins: ★ The margins are great. The inside margins taken are pretty large--but I knew that from last year and prepared for it. One thing I did this year is that before I did my final upload, I change the page size from 11x17 to 11.25x17.25. Then I just made sure that the margins looked alright. This pulled in all my margins quite easily, and I actually had larger margins than I needed. Every page turned out perfect!

Color The color is dead on. It looks exactly the same as it does on my screen when I open the file in Photoshop.

Thank you so much for a gorgeous book! And stink! It's MAY and I haven't got more than 3 pages done in my 2015 book! The work is never done!

Candy Bar Awards Template--and using Photoshop to Advertise your Program

Today I thought I'd share my experience this year using Photoshop to help advertise the after school ballroom program I started at my school. I also want to include a template to create candy bar awards, which turned out so cute! Continue reading and scroll down to find the template!

Sometimes I wonder how people function without Photoshop. I freaking use it for EVERYTHING. By day I am a business teacher in a junior high. But in my past, I was a big fan of ballroom dancing. I did it all through middle school and high school, and then in college. As my husband is not a dancer, I put the talent away for a long time. But then decided to start an after-school ballroom program at my school back in 2007. It was SO FUN, and for three years I ran the team. Then I took a four-year break while I had kids. This year, I was happy to take up the reigns again, and it has been so fun! For this post, I wanted to talk about how my experience as a business teacher really helps in the arts arena! Some of the stuff I will talk about is in Photoshop, and others in Microsoft Office. But I thought it might be a fun thing to share! Photoshop skills can be used in more than just digital scrapbooking--whatever your occupation, you can find ways to use it to make your experience richer, and make yourself more indispensable. As a teacher, there are MILLIONS of ways to use it in the classroom!

For ballroom this year, I first needed to make sure I had a good advertisement. Advertising is EVERYTHING. Ballroom is dependent on convincing 14-year-old boys that dancing is cool--not an easy thing to do. First, I created these awesome memes. I created them free online, but then I pulled the artwork into Photoshop, where I enlarged it and also added a QR code--though you can't see it in these pictures because I added it after I created this little graphic. Still, it was cool to have the ads up all over the school with the QR code so kids could find my ballroom website and all the needed information.

I also created some other ads in Photoshop--simple ones because I had no real photos to work with, so I went with humor. Very easy to create in Photoshop. I used another program, Print Shop, to print them on 4 to 9 sheets and then taped them together to make a giant poster.

I put these ads all over my school. After three days of signups, I had 78 kids signed up to take the 3-week ballroom workshop, twice a week after school. And yes, half of those WERE boys!

After three weeks we had auditions to choose my team of 20, who would go on to learn the Latin medley I had choreographed over the summer. For three months we worked very hard to learn the new dance. How AMAZING they all are!

Then I got really nerdy. It's quite difficult to choreography a routine for 8 couples in your head and see where each of them will go from formation to formation. So I first used Photoshop to create this page:

This helped me envision each couple, coordinated with a color, and where they would be.

Then...then I got A LOT NERDIER.

I created a PowerPoint and used the animation features to make each dot move as it was supposed to, coordinated with music. It took forever, even though I'm pretty awesome at PowerPoint--I mean, I do get paid to teach it. But it helped me envision the routine, and more--it's helped the students envision it too.

For three months we worked on that routine. It was awesome. The kids worked so hard. And soon it was time to advertise the Talent Show--the performance we would be working for. Here is the ad I created in Photoshop and put up all over the school, to advertise the auditions--I am also in charge of the talent show!

A week after the talent show, we had a Parent Night where we showcased their hard work to friends and family. I invited other ballroom groups from around the area to come, too. Here is the ad I created for that!

And then, of course, I made an awesome program for the evening. As I quipped to the audience that night, "I'm not actually a dance teacher. I'm a business teacher. That's why your programs are so awesome."

And then it was time to create the DVD's for each couple.I know. WHY do I do all of this? I think it's because I'm awesome. Each kid got a DVD with their picture on the cover and DVD, and then also on the inside menu. There were also CD's with pictures on it from the experience, and I made a CD envelope for that using my Silhouette machine and a template purchased from their site. Pain in the butt. But also adorable. Making a DVD cover case, by the way, is not so difficult if you can print onto legal sized paper. It's just a matter of trial and error to get it the right size.

On the night of the show, we had a little party in my room. And this is where I gave out the candy bar awards, mentioned at the top of the post. They were a HUGE success. When I was deciding how to make them, I was looking at all the names of existing candy bars, trying to find a reason to make that bar's name fit the student, and I kept thinking, "if only there were such at thing as a "surprise" bar or a "superstar" bar. That's the one I'd get for so-and-so." And then I was like--hey. I know Photoshop. If I want a superstar bar, THERE WILL BE a Superstar Bar! I designed each bar to fit a standard mid-size Hershey bar. Designing them was SO MUCH FUN. I was up till 1:00 a.m. doing it, and loved every second of it! I also made a certificate in Publisher that went with it, explaining why they got it. When we handed them out, the kids were so excited to get something so personalized.

If you would like the template to create your own bars in Photoshop, click here:


Wait...what's that you say? You read this entire post and you are now DYING to actually see my team perform? Well, ok. Here they are at the parent night. The lights randomly stopped working that night, so sorry the lighting is so bad!

Freebie 8 1/2 x 11 Templates - #14 - #16

I think its time for another freebie! I've been scrapping a lot lately--I'm all caught up through April! Yay! Only two months behind for my 2014 book! It makes me happy to be keeping up--every month I get behind, the memories get less and less vivid. Anyway, I chose three of my layouts and made them into templates for you! A couple things to keep in mind about the way I do this:

1. These files are set to 11x17--in other words, one spread of two 8 1/2 x 11 pages. 

2. Often I have the borders for pictures as a different layer--that way you can recolor it and add styles to it easily. Use the paint bucket or double click on the layer and go to layer styles to make it look the way you want.

3. Any flowers or silhouettes you see can be removed to add your own elements and silhouetted photos--they are there only to give you an idea of where to put your elements. 

4. These templates are designed to flow easily across both pages--pay attention to the guides and choose your pictures carefully for the photos that are near the center or edges so that nothing of importance will be cut off. Some photos are purposely in the margins.

5. The easiest way to use a template is to use clipping masks. Pull the picture or paper that you want to use so that is it is on top of the layer you want to clip it into. Then hold down the ALT key and put your cursor between the two layers. A small triple circle icon will appear. Click, and the the picture will be clipped in. 

So, below are three new templates, and following that are some examples of what the templates look like when completed!

Template #14

Template #15

Kit: Blush Beauty by Trixie Scraps

Kit: One Year Older by Lindsay Jane

Mypictales.com - My Review, 8 1/2 x 11 Yearbook

It's here! I can hardly believe I finally finished my 2013 book! There were months there that I worried I'd stop digital scrapping forever. I was so depressed with my regular publisher, Cherishbound, changed their name, got a new site, and dropped their editor. I was just so upset.

Now, I am SO glad they did.

Because I was totally overpaying for my books.

Now I've found a new company, Mypictales.com. I wanted to write a quick review and show pictures of my book in case there is anyone else out there looking for a place to do an 8 1/2 x 11 size book, or is just looking for a good company.

With my old company, I would pay anywhere from $130 to $150 for a book that was between 100 and 118 pages. The quality was excellent. Glossy pages, beautiful covers, and they didn't cut off huge margins of my work.

I chose Mypictales because another scrapper I know recommended them, and she does the 8 1/2 x 11 size page. A lot of companies don't do that size, including the old standby, Shutterfly, which I have never used but pretty much everyone else in the universe does. I liked Mypictales because their editor allows me to upload a 11x17 page as a double layout. Very easy. I just hoped they didn't take enormous margins.

Price★ What blew me away was the price. Used to paying over $120 for my books, I was stunned when my total for a 112 page hard bound book was only $90. THEN, I did a search to see if there were any coupons out there. Unbelievably, I found one that was only for the size of book I was doing, and it expired that very day! AH! So my book--my 112 page hard bound book--only cost me $60! I could hardly believe it!

Ease of Use★ As I already stated, the editor was very easy to use and navigate. However, I did run into a snag when I went to submit it. It just wouldn't upload my enormous book. I would guess that in a smaller book it might not be a problem. But no matter what I did, I couldn't upload it. I followed all the alternate instructions on the site to no avail. Finally I contacted customer service via email. I got a response very quick, and they were so kind and easy to work with. We were able to work out another solution by uploading my book with a shared link in Dropbox. No problem. So even though I had trouble, I still give them 3 out of 4 stars, because their customer service was so good.

Shipping★ This one bowled me over. With my old company, I would have to wait 2-3 weeks for my book. MyPicTales took FIVE days! Seriously--I ordered it on the 25th of April, and it was on my doorstep on May 1st--which was my birthday so it was the perfect gift!

Cover: ★ The cover of the book is gorgeous. I LOVE the wrap-around option, which I did not have with my old company. Makes it look so nice on the shelf. The only reason I didn't give it four stars is because, when I compare it with my other books, the cover isn't quite as glossy. But--seriously. It cost half as much and it still looks freaking awesome. I am NOT complaining.

Binding★ The binding has it's good and bad points. I like how tightly bound it is, it won't come apart. But there is a bit of glue showing on the top. All in all, I'm good with it. Once again, I got it for a GREAT price.

Margins: ★ This was one of my biggest concerns I loaded my 8 1/2 x 11 pages into other editors from other sites, and they didn't even fit. I was worried that the book wouldn't be the size they say it is, or they'd take off huge margins from the sides and the insides. Yes, they took some from the inside, but then--you HAVE to, and so I'm happy. Nothing got cut off. But I think next time I'll be a little more careful with my inside border--the binding took a lot. But that' true of all companies, because that's just the way books are bound. There is a flat binding option, but I didn't do it.

Color The picture above also shows the page as a jpg file, and then the same page in my book. The colors are dead on.

Size: ★ Another reason I insisted on sticking with 8 1/2 x 11 pages was because I wanted all my books to be the same size and fit nicely on my shelf. This book is slightly bigger than the others, but not by much. It looks gorgeous on the shelf--much better than my other books. At my old company, I could only pick the color of the spine and a few fonts with the title. With Mypictales, I could design the entire cover, spine and all. I think it looks fantastic on my shelf!

Overall, I'm very happy to add Year Eight: On Our Way to my collection of yearbooks. It looks great on my shelf, and it's so fun to share! A BIG THANK YOU to Mypictales for doing such a fabulous job! I will definitely order from them from now on!

Binge Scrapping and a New Publisher

Well, I think that last entry was the therapy I needed. Somehow, writing it out made me kick myself in the pants and get started again! I did some more research on publishers, and I think I found one! I will be publishing my 2013 book through MyPicTales. I downloaded their editor, and really liked it. At first, it took huge margins just like I feared. But then, I just uploaded it different. I create all my pages as 11x17 pages, then slice them in half. With this site, I can upload one 11x17 image and a double page layout, and it fits great! Here's a photo of what it looks like with a page uploaded in their editor.
The main complaint I heard about MyPicTales is that its not so suited for people who want to use the editor to do their scrapbooking--it doesn't have a lot of backgrounds and stuff. Not a problem for me! I use Photoshop to do it, so all I need is a place I can upload full bleed pages. Anyway, I hope they turn out as good as they sound!

I have done some research online and found good reviews about their quality, and their prices are great. I think my book will be a lot less expensive with them that it was with Cherishbound. My books are usually about 100 pages long. For an 8 1/2 x 11 hard cover book with a custom photo cover, it's $45.00 for 20 pages and $1 for each additional page. That will cost $125.00. I paid about $140 at Cherishbound, and that was with a discount. MyPicTales also has a discount for your first book. So I'm feeling pretty good! I can actually get this thing published!

So here's what I've been up to--since my last post, I have completed TWELVE 2-page layouts! Wahoo! I am now working on October of 2013, so I'm almost done! Here are a few of the layouts I did--I especially like how the Comic Con ones turned out!


Where have I been?

So...I haven't updated for a few months. I don't know if anyone has noticed. But the guilt is starting to get to me. Scrapbooking used to be one of those things I could feel good about--like, the thing that others struggle with and feel guilty about, while I am all caught up and so on top of it.

Then, the worst happened. Cherishbound totally failed me. I have published every book through this website, and I have really liked them and their quality. They are one of the only sites I can find that does 8 1/2 x 11 size books, without taking massive margins. In August they took down their site, sending out an email (which I cannot find now) stating that they have changed their company to a new name. I didn't think it was that big of a deal. I didn't realize, then, how much it would derail me.

The new site went up and I remember visiting it long enough to notice that the editor I always used was not there. I figured it would be up eventually. I forgot the name of the new site. I can't find anything about it anywhere. The Cherishbound site just has a link to an email, but no link to their new site (a HUGE oversight, if you ask me!) So...I guess they are just gone. I even sent them an email politely asking them what their plans were for the new site and if the editor would be back, but they didn't bother to respond.

I thought, no problem! I'll find a new company to print my books! But I really want to stick with 8 1/2 x 11--mainly because I have half of 2013 already scrapped to that size, and also because I want all my books to be the same size. But my searches have proved futile. The few I have found that say they do that size take such massive margins that my pages don't fit. I'd have to redo them. And...I just sort of...lost it. I'm so discouraged. I am only caught up through about half of August of last year, and I just keep falling farther and farther behind. I've lost my mojo I guess. If I can't publish it, what's the point? But in the meantime, I'm missing things. Details about my children are not getting recorded. I am forgetting what happened back in October. How can I write about it? I take WAY less pictures now. I am less motivated to take the kids somewhere so I can do a great page on it. (I know it's sad that I won't take the kids somewhere unless I can scrap it, but whatever motivates you works I guess...)

So, if anyone knows of a company that does 8 1/2 x 11, let me know. I've tried Mixbook, and I really like them--I've used them to make calendars. But they are one of the ones that takes huge margins. I guess if I can't find anyone else I go with them. In the meantime, this site is really suffering. I am still using Photoshop every day, though, don't get me wrong. In fact, I DID update the new school play program I did for Aida on this page. I have made more boxes, more tags, more paper dolls--I use it all the time. I just haven't felt inspired to write. I will try to do better!

Introducing My New Paper Doll Website!

Hello everyone! I was thinking about what to post next, as I've actually done very little digital scrapbooking lately. But I HAVE been using Photoshop like crazy! I have been making more paper dolls! So, I thought I would create a post about what I've been doing, and also introduce my website:

Here is a couple of shots to give you an idea of what I have created! It's a set with 20 dolls and 200 outfits!

Two years ago I did a post about a set of paper dolls I was creating for a birthday party. I've been making paper dolls every since I was a little girl. As an adult I rarely do it, but every now and then I get bit by the bug, and this last couple months I've been drawing like crazy! But the fun part is, I draw it, then pull it into Photoshop where I perfect it. And now that I have a Silhouette, it does all the cutting for me. Makes it a LOT easier to cut out the dolls, let me tell you!

So now I've created a set of TWENTY different dolls. There are actually only five different skin tones--when I want to do a new doll I just draw a new head using one of the different skin tones I've already used--then I don't have to draw a new body. But I do use Photoshop to make their underclothes.  Here is an image of the faces of all twenty dolls.

I like to do lots of different skin colors, hair and eye colors. Then some dresses look better on some dolls than others. All the dolls are the same size and body, though, so they can all wear the same clothes. I think my personal favorite is Daisy. I just love her freckles.

In the past, I have use Photoshop on the faces of the dolls, but not on the dresses. Since I discovered how to use a surface blur in Photoshop and with the liberal use of the smudge tool, it's really helped me improve the dresses as well and make them look a lot smoother.

Here are some before and after photos that are kinda fun to look at. The more I worked with Photoshop to improve my artwork, the better at it I got. And the more addicted I got!

A lot of the time it was just a matter of perfecting the lines, and sometimes I just recolored the whole thing in Photoshop. Time consuming? Yes. And I loved it. I'm weird that way. I know there are artists out there that use Photoshop far more in-depth than I do. Me, I'm just discovering it. And I'm kind of addicted. It combines two of my favorite things--art and computers!

After I have drawn it, scanned it, and perfected it in Photoshop, I then need to convert it to a Silhouette file so I can cut it out easily.

With the dolls, I use several layers. The first layer is the doll artwork, printed on photopaper. Then another layer of just cardstock, and then a layer of chipboard with each side covered in cardstock. So ultimately, each doll has five layers. They are pretty sturdy--but they are still paper. I don't recommend letting any child under the age of 5 play with these dolls--maybe older depending on their maturity. So yeah, I've got these awesome dolls and none of my daughters are old enough to play with them. But in a few years, they are going to have one heck of a set!

I am planning on doing a free giveaway of a paper doll set to my awesome realscrappy readers--look for a post about it coming soon!

Fashion Flipbook Freebie--for your Busy Bags!

Hey all! I've created a new freebie for you today. Sunday while sitting in church the idea took hold of me and wouldn't let go. I came home and started working on it, and now it's ready for you all today! Its a Fashion Flipbook! Great for your little girls to keep them busy in church, the car, the store, or anywhere else where you need them occupied!

The artwork comes from my paper doll set that I have been working on for a couple years now. I plan to do a big post about that in the near future, but I'm not quite ready for that yet! Anyway, the flipbook comes with eight different heads, and eight different outfits. Kids can flip the pages to create brand new dresses!

To create this you will need:

Access to a color printer
At least one sheet of cardstock, (for the cover) but preferably five sheets, one for each page
Scissors and if possible, a paper slicer
Stapler or a book binder


1. Download the PDF file - Fashion Flipbook by Realscrappy
2. Open the file and print all five sheets
3. Slice each sheet down the center. Make sure you cut it PRECICELY at the 5 1/2 mark.
You may also want to trim your edges if you don't want a white border around it.
4. Bind the left side. You can either staple it several times down the side, or take it in to a copier place and get it bound like a book.
5. If your book is stapled, you may want to go through it and bend each paper tightly so it's easier to flip the pages
6. Use scissors to cut on the  horizontal lines on each page. If you are binding it by stapling, only cut to the bent edge. If you are spiral binding it, cut all the way through.

Done! Yay! If you like the artwork, keep a lookout for a future post about my paper dolls! You can also download a free set here.

Lesson 31: Creating Simple Actions/Batching

I know, I know, it's been awhile since I posted. I actually have a few ideas cooking in my head for future posts, but they aren't...um...DONE...yet. So more on that later.

Today I wanted to share my experience with creating actions.

Please note that I have created a free action that you can download at the end of this post! YEAH!!

 Now--first of all, remember that this blog is not for professionals, neither am I anywhere close to a professional in Photoshop. I'm an every day digital scrapbooker, and I'm here to tell you--YOU can make an action! It's not difficult! It's actually really cool!

What is an action? I have a whole blog post about it that I actually updated just recently; Lesson 10: Using Actions. In that post, I explain what an action is, how to install one, how to run one, and just a little about creating your own actions. Today I wanted to go into more detail.

Why would I use an action? An action is really just recording a set of instructions so you don't have to keep doing them over and over again. You can just press "play" and all those instructions just happen on their own. Here are some step by step instructions for an easy action. This is using CS5, but I'm sure it's similar if not exactly the same in other versions. However, I don't think actions are used the same in Photoshop Elements. If you have that version, you may want to search online for instructions on how to use actions for that program.

EXAMPLE - Practice with this simple scenario!

Ok, let's say you have 30 picture files and you need to change them all from the size they are after being uploaded (in my case, 3872 pixels x 2592) to 1200 x 800. I also want them all black and white. All the files are the same size, and need to be changed to the same size. So, I want to create an action that will allow me to do this.

1. In Photoshop, make sure your Actions menu is up. If its not already there, go to Window and select Actions.
3. On the upper right corner click on the options button, shown in the image here.
4. If you have any current actions loaded, select Clear All Actions. Then choose "New Action."
5. It will prompt you to name it--just give it a name. In this case, "Resize B&W" might work.
6. Now, the action will not actually record anything until you press the record button. You can even top recording, and then start again.
EVERYTHING you do once you press record will be repeated in your action, so think carefully what you can do automatically. I do not want opening the file to be part of the action--I want to be able to select the file beforehand. So, choose a photo and pull it into Photoshop to get started. It should be your only layer.
7. Press Record. Then immediately do CTRL+Shift+U to desaturate your picture. You will see that command appear in your actions palette, as shown in the picture.
8. Now go to Image>Size and type 1200 in the width box. Press enter.
9. Stop the action by pressing stop.

Now, you may be done. But, if you want to resave the file and close it as part of the action, you could do that in the action as well. Press record again, and save the document to a new location but with the same name, OR, check the "save as copy" box in the saving menu. Then close the file. Now press stop again. Otherwise, just stop at the end of step 9.

10. Test it. Open a new photo. Go back to the first pull down arrow where your title is (in my example, I just called it Action 1). Press the play button. If it worked, you should see your photo immediately go black and white and resize. If you did the next step, then the photo closes as well and you are ready to bring in another one!

11. Save it. If you don't save this action, you will eventually lose it. If you like it and want to save it, click on "Set 1" part of the action--you can only save a set, not just an individual action. Then pull down your option menu in the Action palette again, and choose "Save Action..." (If its greyed out, that is because you have the action selected and not the set!) Name it and find a good location for it. I put it with all my other actions, in a new folder entitled "My Actions."

Batching Actions

Can I do a mass action? YES YOU CAN!
Like I said at the beginning of the scenario--there are 30 photos. Do I have to pull in each photo one by one and do this action?  No. You can run the action as a batch one time and do ALL the photos!

  • Go to File>Automate>Batch.
  • Choose the action you want to batch--mine came up automatically because its the only action open in my palette.
  • Next, choose a source folder--it will do ALL the photos in that folder.
  • Check the "Suppress file open options dialogs" box and the "Suppress color profile warnings" so that your action runs without unnecessary interruptions.
  • Then just click OK. Watch as the magic happens!
Now that you have tried a basic action, let look at one that I created today!
I found this AWESOME tutorial by Steve Patterson:
I wanted to write the word "October." It took me several tries going through the tutorial to get it right, and I kept making a mistake halfway through. Finally, I made an action of the first half so I didn't have to keep doing that half over and over before I could do the second half. Once I had it down, I just turned the whole thing into an action! Now, I write the word, press play, and wala!! There it is!
  • One tip I have for this--if you are pulling in a new layer or picture that has a name, change the name to "original" or something like that as part of the action in the very beginning. Then when you run the same action with a different image or word, it will not get confused by different layer names!
And here is the action I created! You are welcome to download it, but know that the actual hard work came from Steve Patterson who created the tutorial--all I did was turn it into an action!
Instructions: Start with a white page and type your text in black. Make sure that the text box is not too big--it should be tight around the wording. (That's what I kept messing up on!) Also make sure there is plenty of white space around your word. It works with pretty much any font.

When you finish the action, do CTRL+D to turn off the selection. If you want different colors, double click on the gradient layer and change the gradient. Then do CTRL+E to group it into one layer for use.

So now my new goal is to find more of these awesome tutorials and turn them into actions! Then I might actually use them--because going through that tutorial every time is exhausting! I hope this lesson on Actions has been useful to you!