Photoshop is the undisputed king of image editing – it has an endless palette of tools to complete anything from basic brightness adjustments to an image to advanced image editing tools for compositing multiple images. One of the main reasons it is so popular is the programs ability to be used in conjunction with other editing programs, or plugins which can build on the image editing power of photoshop to create more creative effects.
There are literally hundreds of plugins, actions and scripts for photoshop users, but here are a few that I have found useful lately.
An action in photoshop is like a recipe in the kitchen, it's a set of instructions that when followed, yields the same result each time you use it. Originally designed to program repetitive tasks like resizing, rotation and other mind numbing tasks, it can also be harnessed to produce creative effects for your images.
Actions are fairly easy to create, you just hit record, perform the desired instructions and then hit stop. Once you record an action once, you can play it over on other images to get the same result. Need to custom resize a 1000 images? No problem. Actions to the rescue. There are also sets of actions you can purchase now for creative purposes, and powerful image enhancement.
Doug Boutwell's Totally Rad has two different packages of actions for purchase that produce a variety of image effects from the most basic to the totally surreal – all with one click of the mouse. With crazy action titles like “Grandma's Tap Shoes” and “Pool Party” these actions don't disappoint. You can use them for a variety of purposes – from converting an image to black and white with a dash of punch, to making a photo look like it was taken with a Polaroid camera.
Installing actions is easy, you just load them into photoshop. Once you play them you watch the computer go crazy on your image while you sip a cup of coffee, and then you get to take credit for the awesome image when it's finished. Be prepared for a lot of “How'd you do that?” and “WOW that's so cool!”.
All the Totally Rad actions are a blast to play with and you can also combine multiple actions to create your own unique look. In fact users share their “recipes” online on the Totally Rad website.
Another thing you can do with photoshop is load in scripts. Scripts, unlike actions, allow the programmer of the script to design a user interface, which makes it run more like a standalone program within the photoshop environment.
One amazing time saving product, that was produced right here in the Maritimes is Storyboard. Storyboard states that it is “a simple and easy to use script for Photoshop, that makes laying out images on your blog amazingly quick”.
Local creators Sean McGrath (NB) and David MacVicar (NS) set out to solve a simple problem that haunts most photo bloggers – how can you quickly and easily combine several images in a creative layout that will fit neatly into your blog? Storyboard to the rescue. With one click you can take several images and then watch Storyboard go to work, neatly calculating and laying out your images into a new image which you can neatly upload to your blog. You can also compile multiple completed Storyboards into a new “uber” board – all freshly pressed and ready for use in your site.
These two examples are just the tip of iceberg when it comes to photoshop time saving devices, which hopefully will give you better results, with less time sitting in front of the computer.