You’ve Never Used Actions Like This Before

August 30, 2017

Sponsored by ACDSee

An ever-increasing number of imaging programs are incorporating presets that allow you to create custom “looks” for your images. Presets are a terrific time-saver, and the ability to customize and save an adjustment, or sequence of adjustments, as a preset adds a new dimension to our ability to deliver unique images to our clients. But they have their limitations.

© 2017 Stan Sholik. You can enlarge the Actions Browser to better see the action previews.

Other programs include actions as a starting point in image processing. Actions are basically a series of edits that are recorded as they are applied to one image for future use on different images. Beyond stock actions, software programs that support actions typically offer the ability to create your own actions for a customized look. Actions have far fewer limitations than presets.

While presets and actions are similar in many ways, their differences are important. In many applications, presets run faster and it is often possible to preview the effect on a thumbnail of your image or even the main image. While you can usually tweak them, they cannot be layered and are limited in the tools they can use.

© 2017 Stan Sholik. After running an action, you can continue on and make further image adjustments.

Actions, on the other hand, can be layered one over another to increase the effect and can be applied to selections, and you can program them yourself with any tool available in the imaging program, including sharpening, cropping, and resizing. The inability to preview them and the meager number built into imaging programs has limited their popularity, but not for long.

© 2017 Stan Sholik. The original image.

I have found one program that overcomes these shortcomings beautifully. ACDSee delivers the new ACDSee Photo Studio Ultimate 2018 with an Actions Browser that you use to preview the many prebuilt actions that come with the program, as well as any custom actions you create.

The Actions Browser is available in the Manage, View, and Edit modes. There are 16 categories of actions, from Add (adding borders, grain, vignettes, etc.) to Workflow (highpass filter, and adding a gray layer).

© 2017 Stan Sholik. The final image after running the Orton preset and making image adjustments.

You can choose an action directly, but I prefer to open the Actions Browser. The Actions Browser previews the effect of running each action on your open image, and the Actions Browser window is resizable up to the full size of your monitor to make it easy to visualize the effect. Each action can be run as many times as you would like to create an effect.

The steps in the action you have run are displayed as layers in Edit mode, allowing for further tweaking. What’s more, the actions run as quickly as any preset I have ever used.

ACDSee has created a powerful and useful addition to ACDSee Photo Ultimate 2018 with the addition of the Actions Browser.