Actions 101 for Digital Scrapbookers I

by | Scrapbooking Supplies, Scrapbooking Tutorials | 12 comments

I’m so thrilled to have Wendyzine Scraps here over the next two days to share her expertise on a fun subject: actions!

Action (ak’shun, n.) “Something done or accomplished; a deed.”

Actions, as they relate to scrapbookers, are just that. They get something done! And most of the time, they get it done faster than you ever could (even with the latest Macbook Pro maxed out with 8GB of ram). “Actions” is the word Photoshop uses for a set of steps that can be recorded and repeated over and over. Actions can help you do things faster, or achieve results that may be beyond your current skill set.

And, actions aren’t just for designers or advanced users. In fact, actions can be used by all levels of scrappers. Very often, the hardest part is getting them installed! (To help with that, download my free PDF tutorial on installing actions in both Photoshop and Elements, Mac and PC.)

Scrapbooking actions fall into many different categories. Let’s look at a few of the popular types along with some fantastic products I’d like to share with you.

Photo Effects

Perhaps some of the most common actions among scrappers are ones that add character and drama to your photos. Whether it’s color correction, colorization, grunge effects, or flaw fixes, actions can do all that and more. With a click of the button, and sometimes a little interaction on the way, you can transform your photos into true works of art!

Several designers make fantastic photo actions, and here are a few of my favorites:

Wendyzine Scraps
Studio Wendy @ Scrapbookgraphics
(You didn’t think you could get through this article without seeing a few of my actions, now did you?) I offer a fun bundle of inexpensive starter actions. You get some basic special effects and are able to tweak the results along the way. I have a CS bundle and and Elements bundle, and each pack is also available individually.

Faith True
For a fun and inexpensive set, check out Faith True’s Candy Apple actions. You get 5 fun photo actions for PS7-CS4.

Kim Hill
CGEssentials and Pink Ink Studios
Kim Hill is a photographer and scrapbooking designer. She sells actions for both CS and PSE. They are a great value because they are sold individually so you can grab just the ones you will use. Aged & Faded is one of my favorites.

Doug Boutwell
Totally Rad Actions
If you’re ready to make a big commitment to photo effects, check out Totally Rad Action Mix. This huge package of actions does not come cheaply, but you get photographer-quality effects that will certainly add a special touch to your photos.

Photo Blast
EZ Actions makes Photo Blast for both Photoshop and Elements. You can choose from basic and pro versions. The pro versions allow you complete control over the action as it runs, and allows you to edit the layers in the end. You get a huge bundle of 39 actions with the All Pro collection, making it a great value overall.

From retro to urban, antique to chic, Nicole Van offers high quality photo effects for both Elements and CS.

Jodi Friedman
MCP Actions
MCP Actions goes beyond the stunning color effects to retouching and restoration as well. Check out her great line that includes The Eye Doctor & Dentist and Magic Skin Retouching.

Coffee Tea Photography
Rita offers her popular CoffeeShop Actions and Presests on her blog. They are free, with donations accepted. They are a nice way to get started with actions and try some things out without an upfront cost. And, of course, if you love them, you can still send her a little something for her efforts.

Make sure you stop back tomorrow for Part II, where you’ll learn about time-saving, skill-building, and design-helping actions! If you want to make sure that you don’t forget, make sure to subscribe to our daily updates using the box in the right hand sidebar.

A graphic designer with 20 years of experience in the printing industry, Wendy brings her knowledge and skills to digiscrapping. She’s developed countless tools and time saving actions for both scrappers and designers. When she’s not at her computer scrapping or designing, she can be found enjoying a good book, movie or TV show, or spending time with her precious family.

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  1. Cindy Jackson

    Great that you are having Wendy here. She recommended a software product to install actions and I wonder if she could talk abit about it. I find actions intimidating to install and I have to relearn the process everytime I want to install one. I have a bunch of her action and would like to hear more about the program. Could she address styles too? I am not sure how those work either. Thanks I love this site and I recommend it to all my friends!

  2. Wendy

    Is Graffi’s Add-o-matic what you were thinking of? You can find it here:

    Also, keep an eye on Anna Forrest Designs. She’s developing a similar product now which should work for both Mac and PC. And, she even has a number of advanced scripts for PSE users, although scripts may be a topic for another day.

  3. Chari

    Hooray! I NEED this! Thank you! Enhancing my photos, and learning more about actions is on my list of things to do!
    Thank you! Love Wendy’s actions!

  4. Laser

    Just purchased some more of Wendy’s actions yesterday! Still have some on my wish list though so saving up for another time. Always love to hear any tips Wendy has for us. Thanks for having her as a guest. 🙂

  5. Cindy Jackson

    Yes Wendy I bought it on iNSD after I read about it from you. I haven’t had a chance to install it yet and wondered if you have any words of wisdom about it. They had 15% off too but it might have been just for the weekend.

  6. Crystal

    Thank you for this! It’s a great article, and super references. I love actions & styles, but I don’t use actions nearly as much as I should! I’ll definitely be checking out some of these 🙂

  7. Lynn

    I used to use actions a lot when I was making feeble attempts at designing my own things. Now, I am definitely more into photo effect actions and making my pictures better – Gina Miller (at the LilyPad) has some great actions –
    Disclaimer: I have no affiliation with Gina or The LilyPad – just love her actions.

  8. Wendy

    @Cindy The only thing I’ve read that some people do is use the Add-o-matic to install everything. Then, they go back and swap out the thumbnail images with the ones the designer created. I think the Graffi thumbnails are text-based. I haven’t used it myself, I’ve just come across many action lovers who swear by it. For those who choose to install manually, I highly recommend adding icons to your desktop or dock for quickly accessing the folders you need to install in. It makes it so much easier than trying to find it every time.

  9. Tracy

    I have purchased alot of Wendy’s actions over the past couple of years and I have got nothing but LOVE for her. She has saved me so much time and I really do swear by her ‘CUT & CLUSTER’ and her drop shadow ‘STROKE’ and ‘KNOCKOUT’ actions. I also like the Randi Oh/Wendy collab ‘CLUSTER’ action. I am saving up for her designer set of action tools. Love ya Wendy!!!

  10. Wendy

    You guys are making my head swell. 🙂 Thanks so much for the super kind comments!

  11. Kim Hill

    Thanks so much for the shout out about my photoshop actions. I appreciate it so much. 🙂

  12. Sandra

    Actions are something that I have been ‘afraid’ to use, not knowing how to get them installed, interact with them, or just use them. Thanks so much for the tutorial and I will read all of the above, probably several times before it gels.



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