- Table of Contents
- Photoshop CS3, CS4, and Lightroom
- Editing Photos
- Creating Special Effects
- Color Correcting Images
- Retouching People and Portraits
- Showing Off Your Work
- Managing Your Images
Creating a Better Workflow
- Batch Process Photos with Image Processor
- View RSS Feeds in Bridge
- Mine Photoshop CS2's Hidden (And Not So Hidden) Gems
- Pick Your Fonts Visually in CS2
- Tame Your Photoshop CS2 Menus with new Customized Workspaces
- Add Color to Your Photoshop Menus with Customized Workspaces
- Take Stock in Photoshop CS2
- Transforming in Perspective with Photoshop CS2
- Easily Adding Metadata to Your Images
- Changing Multiple Type Layers
- Easy Image Resizing in Photoshop CS2
- Creating a Killer Panorama
- Boost Color in Your Photos with Actions
- Make Your Own Camera Raw Settings
- Add Copyright and Personal Info to Multiple Images
- Automate Photoshop Using Actions
- Change an Existing Action
- Process Multiple Raw Photos at Once
- Using Photoshop with the Creative Suite
- Video Tutorials
- Additional Resources
- What is Photoshop?
- Basics and Setup
- Color Management
- Paths and Shapes
- Painting and Brushes
- Color and Value
- Restoring, Manipulating, and Compositing
- Saving and Exporting
- Actions and Automation
- Building Web Graphics With ImageReady
- Working With Adobe Version Cue
- Cool, Quick Effects
Boost Color in Your Photos with Actions
Last updated Mar 14, 2003.
Most digital photos can benefit from a small boost in color saturation, but most people don't have the time to do this to every photo. The quick answer to better-looking photos is to use an Action to boost the saturation and let Photoshop do all the work for you. Just run this little saturation boost trick once (which, by the way, kicks total butt), and then it'll be ready for you to use whenever you want.
I read about the color boost trick that I'm going to show you here in Dan Margulis's book, Photoshop LAB Color. I absolutely loved the technique and began using it all the time. I found, however, that the steps were exactly the same every time I used it, so I decided to make an Action out of it.
If you're new to Actions in Photoshop, they're like little macros that let you record the adjustments that you're applying in Photoshop. You can replay Actions on other images with just the click of a button. Let's take a look:
Open a photo that needs a little color saturation boost. The photo below is a perfect candidate because the color of the rocks in the background were much more brilliant when I took the shot than they appear now.
Let's start out by finding the Actions palette. This is the central location where all Actions that you create get stored in Photoshop. To get to it, go to the Window menu and choose Actions. You should see the Actions palette at this point.
Let's start by creating a new Action. Click the Create New Action button at the bottom of the palette. You'll see the New Action dialog open. Use this dialog to give your action a name (it helps if it's a descriptive one) and press the Record button.
Now for the good stuff. Forget about the Actions palette for now and just tuck it off to the side so you can still see it. We need to fix the photo. For starters, let's switch into the Lab color space, as that's where we're going to need to do the work here. Choose Image > Mode > Lab. You shouldn't really see anything change, but if you look in the Actions palette you’ll see that a new "Convert Mode" step has been recorded.
Next, let's duplicate the Background layer so we don't work on the original. Do this by selecting the background layer and pressing Control – J (Mac: Command – J). Again, you'll see that a new step has been added to your Action in the Actions palette indicating that Photoshop is indeed recording what you're doing.
Now we're going to use a dialog called Curves. Open the Curves dialog by choosing Image > Adjustments > Curves or just press Control – M (Mac: Command – M).
The Curves dialog looks a little intimidating at first, but it’s really not. First, change the Lab channel at the top to "a." Next, Alt/Option click in the grid area to see the small grid instead of the default larger one. You can always Alt/Option click on it again to get it back. You won't see anything change in the Actions palette.
Drag the small square at the bottom left over by two full squares. The trick here is that whatever you do to the bottom corner, you also do to the top corner. Drag the top right square over to the left by two full squares as well.
The other trick with this technique is that whatever you do to the "a" channel you also do to the "b" channel. So, switch the channel to "b" and drag both of those points over two grid squares as well. When you're done, press OK.
At this point, the color in your photo should look much more saturated. Now, this is what it looked like when I took the shot! You may find that it's a little too saturated, but this would be different for every photo, so we don't want to fix it just yet. I'll show you how in a moment.
The last thing we need to do is switch back to the RGB color space. Just choose Image > Mode > RGB. When the dialog pops up asking you if you'd like to flatten the image, press Don't Flatten.
Now that we're done working on the photo, we need to stop recording the Action. To do this, press the Stop Recording button at the bottom of the Actions palette.
That's it! Your done recording your Action and you can run it on another photo. Just open a photo and press the Play button at the bottom of the Actions palette. You'll see that Photoshop performs all of the steps you just did on the new photo as well.
One more thing: Remember back in Step 10 when I said that the photo may or may not look too saturated, but we didn't want to fix it. This is where a little personal interaction comes in. Since we recorded the Action and created a duplicate layer back in Step 3, we can adjust the opacity of that layer for all of the photos that we run this Action on. So, after you run the Action, if you find that the photo looks a little too saturated in color, just drop the opacity of the top duplicate layer to about 70-80 percent and that should do the trick.
I hope you realize just how cool Actions are. By using Actions, you're letting Photoshop do the work for you, which leaves more time for actually being creative.