Exercise 1: Create an Action
To get started creating the flipbook, you'll build a Photoshop document and then record an action to duplicate and save that file multiple times.
- Open Photoshop. Then download sky.psd and open this image of the sky. The sky image will be the "stage" on which the balloon will be the "actor." Don't close this document.
- Download and open the barrage balloon image from the Library of Congress Flickr page.
- Select the balloon; then copy and paste it into the sky image. (I used the Pen tool to create a path around the balloon, converted the path to a selection by Command-clicking on the icon of the path in the Paths panel, copied the balloon by pressing Command-C, and pasted it into the sky image using Command-V.)
- Rename the two layers so your Layers panel includes one named sky and one named balloon (see Figure 1). Close the balloon document.
- Click the balloon layer to activate it; then choose Image Menu > Auto Color.
- Save the document as 01.psd in a folder on your hard drive called flipbook.
- If you're using CS5, choose Window > Actions. In CS4, choose the Automation workspace from the Application bar.
- Click the Create New Set button in the Actions panel (see Figure 2). Name the new set flipbook.
- Click the Create New Action button in the Actions panel (see Figure 3).
- In the New Action dialog box, name the action duplicate, as shown in Figure 4. Here you can also give your action a function key and a color, which you might use to organize and play your action later. Assign any function key you like to your action; I chose F1 for this example.
- Click the Record button in the bottom of the Actions panel. Notice that the Record button is red when you're recording (or creating) an action, as shown in Figure 5.
- Choose Image Menu > Duplicate. Click OK to close the dialog box.
- Choose File Menu > Save As. Do not rename the file. Instead, click the Save As a Copy button. The name of the file will be 01 copy, but do not touch the Name field! You'll rename your files later.
- Click the Stop button at the bottom of the Actions panel to stop recording your first action (see Figure 6). If you're new to using Actions, you'll probably forget to stop recording during one of the first times that you try doing this on your own. Watch out for this common mistake.
- Play the new duplicate action nine times. Since I assigned my action to the F1 function key, I pressed F1 nine times in a row until I had made 10 copies of the same image. All of the images remain open in Photoshop, so close each document using Command-W (Close Window) followed by Command-D (Don't Save).
Figure 1 The Layers panel includes two layers: sky and balloon.
Figure 2 Use sets to organize the actions that you create.
Figure 3 At the bottom of the panel are buttons you can use to record, stop, play, create, and delete actions.
Figure 4 Notice that the New Action dialog contains a Record button and a Cancel button, but no OK button. When you click Record, Photoshop literally begins recording your next steps.
Figure 5 A view of the Actions panel while the user is recording.
Figure 6 It's essential to stop recording once you've finished creating your new action.