Auto Actions in-depth guide & creative tips.


Hello everyone! In this tutorial, I will explain how to record and utilize Auto actions.
I will go through the basics of recording, playing & editing actions while also explaining technical details, common errors & different ways of creating action commands.
I hope it helps!

You can watch the video version of this tutorial here▼

Here is the action set i made for the tutorial ▼

1. Auto Actions Basics

Let's do a quick introduction to Auto Actions.
Auto actions let us record multiple steps and perform all of them automatically with a single click. They are great for frequently used operations and making complex effects quickly.
▼ [1] First you can activate the auto action palette by goin to [Window] > [Auto Action]

▼ [2] Lets create a new action.
■[2.1] Click this icon to create a new action
■[2.2] Add a name to keep things organized
■[2.3] In this example i will create a Glow action

1.1 Glow action

▼ [1] Click the record button to start recording commands into the action.
■[1.1] Create a copy of the original layer by Right-clicking on the layer > Duplicate layer.
■[1.2] The duplicate layer is added to the action as a new action command

▼ [2] Change the color of the duplicate.
■[2.1] First select a new main color.
■[2.2] If we keep changin the color It registers the last one for the action command.
■[2.3] Go to [Edit] menu > [Convert to drawing color] To change the color of the duplicate layer retaining the opacity.

▼ [3] To finish the effect change the blending mode and add blur
■[3.1] Change the blending mode to Add(glow) in the [Layer] palette.
■[3.2] Go to [Filter] menu > [Blur] > [Gaussian Blur]. play with the value on the dialog window to achieve the desired effect. in this case i set it to 50.

■NOTE: We can stack multiple filters in a single action, but it could affect the performance. If we keep adding filters the action may take too long to process when we want to play it.
Keep in mind the performance of the action specially if you plan to share them on clip studio assets.

▼ [4] Click the Stop record button to finish recording the action. Now we can repeat all the previous operations automatically
■[4.1] To play the action we can double click the action name.
■[4.2] or press the play button.

This are the basics of recording and playing actions. Now lets edit them.

2. Editing actions

We can make changes to recorded actions.
▼ [1] Duplicate, move & delete commands
■[1.1] Rigth click a command > Duplicate command.
■[1.2] Alternatively hold ALT and drag the command.
■[1.3] Move a command by click & drag to change the order in the action.
■[1.4] Press the Trash icon to delete the selected command.

▼ [2] Modifying how the action plays.
■[2.1] Disable an specific command clicking in the check mark icon. The command wont play.
■[2.2] Play from command, select a command instead of the action itself and press play (or double click it) to ignore all commands above. In this case it wont duplicate the layer.

▼ [3] Keep recording to modify commands or add new ones.
■[3.1] Select the command from where you want to start recording and press the record button.
■[3.2] For commands like [change drawing color] we can change the color to update the final setting in the command instead of adding a new one.
■[3.3] Add new commands. in this case a [Delete layer] was added.

▼ [4] we can change the value of commands with dialog settings such as the Gaussian blur filter.
■[4.1] Click the icon beside the command to activate the dialog when we play the action.
■[4.2] Change the value and press Ok to continue the action
■[4.3] Even after changing the settings the original recorded value will remain, so if we disable the change settings for the command it will apply the original when we play the action again.

3. Technical Notes

We can record almost anything into actions, but there is a couple of things we cant record and we need to keep in mind this technical limitations.
▼ [1] We can create new layers and change the editing layer.

▼ [2] Some limitations we cant record into actions.
■[2.1] We cant select specific tools or sub-tools
■[2.2] We cant draw on the canvas.

▼ [3] Other limitations are with the interface & appearance of the canvas.
■[3.1] We cant change the open palettes from the [Window] menu.
■[3.2] We cant change how the canvas look from the [View] menu either.
■NOTE: At the moment is not possible to play an specific action from another.

▼ [4] We can move layers and apply transformations even [Edit] > [Transform] > [Mesh transformation] It will register the values and pixel position.

▼ [5] We can record almost all of the [Edit] menu.
[Edit] > [Change canvas size] will record the settings we choose for the canvas.

▼ [6] We can perform operations from the file menu such as creating and exporting files.
■[6.1] Open a file from [File] > [Open] and it will record the exact path of the file in the action.
■[6.2] Create new files from [File] > [New] and it will record the exact parameters including the name in the action. This is great for templates and creating new files quickly.

Those are some of the technical posibilities & limitations we need to keep in mind while recording actions.

4. Conditions

Some commands need to meet specific conditions to work or they can break the action.
▼ [1] As an example here i have a simple action with a deselect command.
■[1.1] If there is a selection. The action works as spected and it will remove the selection.
■[1.2] If we run the action without meeting the conditions, the action will stop when it reaches the specific command. in this case we dont have a selection so a warning dialog appears asking to continue or cancel de action.
■NOTE: If we create actions with specific conditions its a good idea to specify it in the action name to make sure we dont forget & other people can use it if we share it.

5. Relative vs specific commands

When working with layers in actions we need to consider two types of commands.
I divide them between Relative & Specific.
To illustrate the difference i will create a drop shadow action.

5.1 Drop shadow action

▼ [1] I start with a base layer named Circle
■[1.1] First duplicate the base layer
■[1.2] Change The main color to black
■[1.3] Select the base layer in the [layer] Palette.
■[1.4] [Edit] menu > [Convert to drawing color]

▼ [2] Define the shadow
■[2.1] First using the move tool. move the base circle layer to reveal the black shadow
■[2.2] Go to [Filter] menu > [Blur] > [Gaussian Blur] and play with the settings to achieve the blurred shadow.
■[2.3] Lower the layer opacity.

▼ [3] If i play the action in the Circle layer it seems to work as intended

▼ [4] But look what happens when i try to apply the action on another layer, in this example a square.
■[4.1] It duplicated the square layer but then it changed the editing layer to the one named "Circle"
■[4.2] Because of this it applied the rest of the action (changing color, blur & opacity) to the wrong layer.

▼ [5] To fix this we need to consider "Relative" & "Specific" commands on the [Layer] palette.
■[5.1] Relative commands like [Duplicate Layer] work relative to the layer selected. So it will duplicate any layer.
■[5.2] [Change Editing layer] is an Specific command. In this case It will look for the Layer Name: CIRCLE and make it the editing layer.
■NOTE: It also wont work if we dont have any layer named CIRCLE.
■[5.3] The square layer its duplicated with the relative command
■[5.4] But then the specific command changes the editing layer to "CIRCLE" and breaks the action

▼ [6] To fix the action we need to make the specific command relative.
■[6.1] First delete the [Change editing layer] Command.
■[6.2] I Make sure to have the correct layer structure.
■[6.3] Start recording from [Change Drawing color]
■[6.4] Instead of selecting the Base layer by clicking in the [Layer] palette, Go to [Layer] menu > [Change Selected layer] > [Layer below]

▼ [7] Now the action is relative and works in any layer. Make sure to keep in mind if you need relative commands for an action to work.

5.2 Specific commands | Layer set action

For some types of actions its a good idea to use Specific layer commands. A typical use case would be creating Layer sets to speed up & organize our workflow.
▼ [1] Lets create an example layer set while i explain what settings we can use.
■[1.1] First create a layer folder [Layer] menu > [New layer folder]
■[1.2] Name the folder
■[1.3] Change the color for organization

▼ [2] Lets Create Specific Layers
■[2.1] [Layer] menu > [New layer] >[Raster layer] Brings up the Settings dialog for creating new layers.
■[2.2] Name the layer
■[2.3] Here we can change the expression of color
■[2.4] Change blending mode
■[2.5] Pick a color for the base.

▼ [3] Create a layer for the shadows
■[3.1] Hold ALT and click the new raster layer icon to bring up the settings.
■[3.2] Name it shadows & set the blending mode to Multiply.
■[3.3] Make a clipping mask to the Base layer & change the color of the layer for organization.

▼ [4] Keep adding more layers using the same methods. This is just an example, create the layers you need for your work.
■[4.1] I created layers for highlights & details
■[4.2] ALT + Clicking the New Vector layer also brings up the settings dialog. i created a vector layer for inks.
■[4.3] Create a new tone layer by going into [Layer] menu > [New layer] > [Tone] & choose the settings for the tone.
■[4.4] Fill the tone layer mask with transparent.

▼ [5] Playing the action creates a Named folder with a defined layer structure inside.

5.3 Specific commands | Tone layer set

▼ [1] Using the same proccess i created a tone layer set folder. In this example i made a 60lpi gradient but its possible to create any setting or combination that suits our work.
■[1.1] Play the action to create a folder with multiple tone layers.
■[1.2] To fill the masks with transparent to hide the tone without changing the main color & keeping the action clean i used [Edit] > [Advanced Fill] with transparent color.
■[1.3] Paint in the mask to reveal each tone.

I hope you get ideas of how specific commands can help organize & speed up your work.

5.4 Specific commands | Specific Priority

▼ [1]Layer order affects how specific commands work. We need to keep in mind what i call layer priority.
■[1.1] In this first example i have a simple action that creates a selection from a layer named "Base"
■[1.2] If i play the action it creates a selection based on the contents of the "Base" layer. In this case the red rectangle.

▼ [2] The action works as intended, but we can have multiple layers named "Base"
■[2.1] Here i have another layer named "Base" on top of the original one and outside the folder layer.
■[2.2] If i play the action it creates the selection from the one in the bottom.

▼ [3] Lets check it doesn't always select the original layer.
■[3.1] I move the blue rectangle layer to the bottom of the layer stack still outside the folder.
■[3.2] Play the action and this time it creates the selection from the Blue rectangle.
■NOTE: In conclusion creating selections from layers gives priority to the bottom layer and ignores Group Folders. So if for example we created multiple folders using a layer set action we cant use a specific command to create selections from the "Base" layer because it will only select from the lower one since it ignores group folders.

▼ [4] Another type of specific command we should consider is changing the editing layer.
■[4.1] This simple example action changes the editing layer to one named "shadows"
■[4.2] Play the action and if a layer named shadows exists it will change the editing layer to that.

▼ [5] Lets see what happens if i have more layers named "Shadows"
■[5.1] Here i have three layers with the same name. Two in the same group and one in another.
■[5.2] I have selected the Base layer of the bottom group. Play the action and it selects the Second "Shadows" layer from the bottom. The priority for changing the selected layer selects the top layer but if we are inside a group it takes the group structure into consideration.
■NOTE: This kind of action works well with layer set actions if we work with folders. A good use case would be for selecting specific layers in animation folders.

6. Batch Process

We can combine Actions & Batch processing to speed up our workflow even more.
Batch process lets us apply the same action to multiple files or pages and can make really simple actions powerfull & effective. Its perfect for simple repetitive tasks.
To explain how batch process works i will create a simple example action to remove the white background from scanned sketches.

6.1 Batch Process | Remove White BG

▼ [1] Here i have a multi-page document with a sketch on each page. I will remove the white background of each one.
■[1.1] Start recording the action. To make it non-destructive first duplicate the base layer.
■[1.2] Go to [Edit] > [Tonal Correction] > [Level correction] and move the sliders to add contrast.
■[1.3] Go to [Edit] > [Convert Brightness to Opacity]. This removes the ligth pixels of the image.
■[1.4] Hold Alt & Click the eye icon on the layer to isolate it. making it the only layer visible and revealing the transparent pixels.

▼ [2] Now lets apply the action with batch process
■[2.1] Go to [File] > [Batch Process] This brings up the batch processing dialog settings.
■[2.2] Select Auto action in the [Run] Dropdown menu
■[2.3] Choose the action you want to apply, in this case Remove White.
■[2.4] Set Apply to all pages.
■[2.5] Select "save & close" and set the checkmark to not close the canvas already open.

▼ [3] After the actions is applied to the first canvas it will go to the next and bring up a dialog that let us continue or skip the next page.
■[3.1] Choose continue to keep the proccess going.
■[3.2] Check "Do not show this dialog again" to continue for the rest of the pages.

▼ [4] The batch process applied the action on all the pages and the background is successfully removed from all of them in just a few clicks.
■NOTE: For this example i only used a couple of pages, but the time saved will be greater the more pages or documents you have.

6.2 Batch Process selected pages | Color lines

▼ [1] We can apply batch proccess to a few selected pages. For this example i will show you a simple action to change the expression color of lines to Red. This action is really usefull when working in B&W art.
■[1.1] Start recording and apply [layer color] effect on the [Layer property] palette.
■[1.2] Change the color to Red or any color you want. Then stop the recording.
■NOTE: if you want to learn more about Monochrome art check my tutorial below ▼

▼ [2] Let's apply the action to specific pages using batch process
■[2.1] Select the pages you want. Then go to [File] > [Batch Process]
■[2.2] Choose the color lines action
■[2.3] Set Apply to selected pages and press Ok
■[2.4] After it applies to the first page choose Continue and "do not show this dialog again"

▼ [3] The action changed the lines of the selected pages to Red. Try to come up with useful methods for quickly modifing specific pages in your work.

6.3 Batch Process | Paste in place

With batch processing even the most simple actions can become powerfull and save time.
▼ [1] In this example i will create a paste in place action. I have a logo in the layer on top.
■[1.1] With the logo selected press CTRL+C to copy the layer content.
■[1.2] Start recording and press CTRL+V. This paste the logo in a new layer in the same position. Stop the recording.
■NOTE: As you can see this is a simple action with only the paste command. This is relative and it will paste whatever we have copied in the Clipboard. So always Copy what you want first before using the action to avoid unespected problems.

▼ [2] Lets apply the action to all the pages with batch process
■[2.1] Again Go to [File] > [Batch Process].
■[2.2] Select the Paste in place action
■[2.3] Set Apply to all pages.
■[2.4] Select "save & close" and set the checkmark to not close the canvas already open.
■[2.5] Again after appliying to the first page select continue and check "do not show this dialog again" so the action dont stop after each page.

▼ [3] The action pasted the logo in the same place in all the pages. This type of action works great with documents of the same dimensions. Perfect for a logo, signature or watermark. I hope you can imagine ways of implementing this simple operation to your work.

6.4 Batch Process | Finishing action

I prepared a last example to explain how dialog settings for filters and correction layers work with batch processing.
▼ [1] I have multiple files or canvases open. I will create a simple finishing action to add contrast and change the colors a bit.
■[1.1] Start recording and go to [Layer] > [New correction layer] > [Tone curve]
■[1.2] Add contrast using a "S" curve.
■[1.3] Go to [Layer] > [New correction layer] > [Gradient map]
■[1.4] Select a gradient.
■[1.5] Change the blending mode to Screen & lower the opacity. Then stop the recording.

▼ [2] I have multiple files or canvases open. I will create a simple finishing action to add contrast and change the colors a bit.
■[2.1] Before using the action, activate the settings for the Tone curve layer in the [Auto Action] palette.
■[2.2] Then again go to [File] > [Batch Process]
■[2.3] Choose the Finishing action.
■[2.4] This time apply to Open canvases.

▼ [3] The batch process start with the Tone curve layer
■[3.1] First we can adjust the Curve. Then plays the rest of the action.
■[3.2] For the second Canvas it will let us Continue or skip like before, but since we have a settings dialog we can set "Show the settings dialog each time"
■[3.3] This will open the tone curve settings again. To make it obvios i made a drastic change in the curve.
■[3.4] For the rest of the canvases lets check Continue & "Do not show this dialog again"

▼ [4] The batch process is complete.
■[4.1] If we check the tone curve we can see that it applied the last change in the curve before we hit continue. So it retains the last change each time it applies the action during batch process.
■NOTE: The Base settings in the action wont change. It keeps the values we recorded originally.

Those are the Basics of Batch processing and actions, Its a powerfull combo that can save us a lot of time. Try to experiment with your own work & actions. Just keep in mind the few technical details i explained.

7. Workflow Tips | Keyboard shortcuts

I will share some essential workflow tips. First lets start with keyboard shortcuts.
▼ [1] I have a simple example here, i will assing a shorcut to my "Check fill layer" action.
■[1.1] Go to [File] > [Shortcut settings]. This opens the settings dialog.
■[1.2] Change setting area to auto action
■[1.3] Select the action you want. In this case "Check fill layer"
■[1.4] Press edit shortcut
■[1.5] Add the shortcut you prefer. In this example i assinged F6 to the action. Then press OK

▼ [2] Now just Press the assigned shortcut to apply the action. We dont need to have the [Auto Action] palette open either.
■[2.1] The "Check fill layer" Action Constrain the colors between Black and a Dark gray.
■[2.2] This action helps to identify tiny unfilled areas.
■[2.3] Use the fill tools to fix the unfilled pixels.
■[2.4] Toggle the layer color effect On & Off pressing CTRL+B

7.1 Workflow Tips | Button Mode

▼ [1] A quick way to apply actions is with button mode. This works really well with Drawing tablets
■[1.1] Rigth click any action and select Button mode.
■[1.2] The actions list turned into clickable buttons.
■[1.3] Press the action you want and it will apply
■[1.4] To disable Button mode use the palette settings dropdown menu.

7.2 Workflow Tips | Command Bar

▼ [1] We can add actions to the Command bar. Perfect for quick organized access.
■[1.1] Drag the action you want to the Command Bar
■[1.2] Click the icon to apply it.
■[1.3] Rigth-click & go to Icon settings to edit the icon color or image.

7.2 Workflow Tips | Quick Access

▼ [1] Its also possible to add actions into the Quick access palette.
■[1.1] Go to [Window] > [Quick Access] to open the palette.
■[1.2] Drag the actions you want.
■[1.3] Press the button in the Quick Access palette to play the action.

7.3 Workflow Tips | Manage actions & sets

▼ [1] Use the settings dropdown menu in the Auto action palette to manage actions & sets.
■[1.1] In the menu we can Add, Delete, Duplicate & Rename Actions & sets. Its also possible to move or copy actions between sets. Register sets as materials, import & export.
■[1.2] Click the icon to import set from material.
■[1.3] Select the set you want to import.
■[1.4] The set is added to the Auto action palette. Use the actions as usual.

▼ [2] Browse Clip studio assets with the Auto Action filter, to find actions created by the community. There are a lot of great ones for free.

8. Creative actions | Vignette (Soft)

I will show you how to create a couple of creative actions using the concepts mentioned in the tutorial.
▼ [1] For this first example i will create a finishing action to add a vignette & soft blur.
■[1.1] This action start with a condition. First using the elipse selection area, create a selection around the main subject.
■[1.2] Go to [Select] > [Invert selected area] To inverse the selection.
■[1.3] Then go to [Select] > [Blur border]
■[1.4] I Added a 40px blur to soften the selection, but this value depends on the size of the image.

▼ [2] Start defining the layer structure.
■[2.1] Create a new layer. Then rigth-click and select "Merge visible to new layer"
■[2.2] Rename the layer to "Merged"
■[2.3] Rigth-click and select "Create folder and insert layer"
■[2.4] Set the new folder to "Through" Blending mode.
■[2.5] Rename the folder to "Vignette Soft" and change the color for organization.
■[2.6] Go to [Layer] > [Change selected layer] > [Layer Below] to select the "Merged" layer. This is a "Relative" command.
■[2.7] Change the blending mode to "Soft light" to add a subtle contrast.
■[2.8] Lower the opacity. In this case I used 50% but we can always change this value later.

▼ [3] Now lets add the vignette.
■[3.1] Go to [Layer] > [New Correction layer] > [Tone curve]. Since we have a selection it will create a Mask for the correction layer.
■[3.2] Darken the image borders using the Tone curve.
■[3.3] Set the layer to "Brightness" blending mode, so the tone curve doesn't affect the saturation.
■[3.4] With the mask selected go to [Filter] > [Blur] > [Gaussian Blur] and play with the values to soften the vignette even more. We can change this value or add more blur after the action is applied if necessary.

▼ [4] Lets add blur to the soft light layer.
■[4.1] Again go to [Layer] > [Change selected layer] > [Layer Below] to select the "Merged" layer.
■[4.2] Go to [Filter] > [Blur] > [Gaussian Blur]. And play with the values to achive a softer "glow"look.
■[4.3] Stop the recording. This is the final action.

▼ [5] Before & After appliying the action. We achieve a soft vignette around the subject. Soften the image and add a little bit of contrast.

▼ [6] Manage the action & change the settings.
■[6.1] Activate the dialog settings for the tone curve & the gaussian blur.
■[6.2] With the action applied double click the correction layer to change the settings. Also play with the opacity.
■[6.3] It's possible to achieve a white vignette by making the image brighter with the curve. Experiment with your own work.

8.1 Creative actions | Hologram

Let´s create a Sci-fi hologram effect.
▼ [1] I have an isolated image of a spaceship.
■[1.1] To make the action non destructive first duplicate the base layer.
■[1.2] Select the base layer by going to [Layer] > [Change selected layer] > [Layer Below].
■[1.3] Hide it. One way of changing the visibility of the current layer is from [Layer] > [Layer Settings] > [Show layer]

▼ [2] Prepare the base for the hologram.
■[2.1] Go to [Layer] > [Change selected layer] > [Layer Above] to select the duplicate layer.
■[2.2] Remove the color with [Edit] > [Tonal Correction] > [Hue/Saturation/Luminosity]. Bring the saturation down to -100
■[2.3] Go to [Edit] > [Tonal Correction] > [Tone curve]
■[2.4] Modify the contrast & add detail to the midtones with the curve. Make the settings suit your image.
■[2.5] Create a new folder & insert layer.
■[2.6] Rename it. In this case i name it "Hologram"
■[2.7] Change the color of the folder for organization.

▼ [3] Lets add color to the base.
■[3.1] Select the base again [Layer] > [Change selected layer] > [Layer Below] & duplicate it.
■[3.2] Go to [Edit] > [Advanced fill]
■[3.3] Fill the layer with a blue color. Choose Target color "Other than transparent" so it Fills the original pixels.
■[3.4] Rename the layer to "Glow color"
■[3.5] Set the blending mode to "Glow dodge"
■[3.6] Lower the opacity to achive the result you want. In this case 85%

▼ [4] Start adding Details
■[4.1] Select the base again [Layer] > [Change selected layer] > [Layer Below] & duplicate it.
■[4.2] Move the duplicate on top of the "Glow color" layer by going to [Layer] > [Layer Order] > [Up]. This relative command moves the current layer one space up in the layer stack.
■[4.3] Go to [Filter] > [Effect] > [Artistic] and apply a Process of Lines only. Play with the settings to achieve interesting line details.
■[4.4] Change the color of the lines using [Edit] > [Advanced fill]. This time i used a Cyan color and again Target color "Other than transparent"
■[4.5] Blur The lines using [Filter] > [Blur] > [Gaussian Blur].
■[4.6] Change the blending mode to "Add (Glow)" & Lower the opacity to 50%

▼ [5] Add a border around the subject.
■[5.1] Again go to [Layer] > [Change selected layer] > [Layer Below] & duplicate it.
■[5.2] With the duplicate selected go to [Layer] > [Selection from layer] > [Create selection] To load the pixels of the layer as a selection.
■[5.3] Go to [Select] > [Shrink Selected Area] And shrink the selection to create a border. In this case i used 15px but the width depends on the image.
■[5.4] Then go to [Edit] > [Delete] to remove the pixels inside the selection and create a glow border. [Select] menu >[Deselect]
■[5.5] Change the color. [Edit] > [Advanced fill]
■[5.6] Blur The edge using [Filter] > [Blur] > [Gaussian Blur]. Play with the amount to create a subtle Halo around the image.
■[5.7] Lower the opacity if necessary. i change it to 47%

▼ [6] Add transparency & Create Scanlines to make the Hologram effect.
■[6.1] First go two times to [Layer] > [Change selected layer] > [Layer Below] To select the base layer. Then lower the opacity to 85%. This makes the effect more transparent so we can blend it with a background later.
■[6.2] Now go to [Layer] > [Change selected layer] > [Layer Above] until it selects the folder & set it to "Screen" blending mode.
■[6.3] Go to [Layer] > [New Layer] > [Tone]
■[6.4] For the tone settings use and Angle of 0, Type "Line" and play with the frequency & density. Try to keep the Frequency between 5 & 10.

■[6.5] Rigth click the Tone layer and Choose Rasterize.
■[6.6] Then go to [Layer] > [Selection from layer] > [Create selection]
■[6.7] Hide the tone layer fro [Layer] > [Layer settings] > [Show layer]
■[6.8] Now go to [Layer] > [Change selected layer] > [Layer Above] to select the folder
■[6.9] Go to [Layer] > [Layer mask] > [Mask selection] To create a layer mask for the folder & achive the typical Scanlines effect of Sci-fi Holograms.

▼ [7] To finish the effect lets add a motion blur.
■[7.1] Duplicate the Hologram Folder
■[7.2] Rigth-click & "Merge selected layers" To merge the folder into a single layer.
■[7.3] Go to [Filter] > [Blur] > [Motion blur]. Set the angle to 0 & play with the strength to get a cool motion effect.
■[7.4] Finally lower the opacity if necessary.

▼ [8] Before & after the Hologram action.
■[8.1] Activate the dialog settings for the Tonal Corrections, Filters, Fills & Tone layer.
After applying the action use it as a base to achieve different results. Play with different Colors, blending modes, opacity, duplicating layers & adding more blur to quickly create unique holograms.

8.2 Creative actions | Pop Text effect

I will show you how to create an easily editable, colorful text effect with some dimension.
▼ [1] We need to start with a white text layer on a Dark Background. Lets create the basic layer structure
■[1.1] To make it Non-destructive first hide the original layer. Click on the eye icon to hide the layer.
■NOTE: It has the same effect of [Layer] > [Layer Settings] > [Show layer] As long as we hide the current selected layer. If you use the eye to hide any other layer than the selected it wouldn't be a "relative" command.
■[1.2] Duplicate the base layer. & unhide the new one with the eye icon.
■[1.3] Right-Click & select rasterize to change the text layer to pixels.
■[1.4] Rigth-Click & select Create folder and insert layer
■[1.5] Its always a good idea to keep layers organized so Rename the folder & change the layer color. In my case i named it Text effect & change the color to a pink purple.
■[1.6] Go to [Layer] > [Change selected layer] > [Layer Below] To select the raster base.
■[1.7] Rigth-Click & duplicate layer. With this we created the basic layer structure for the effect.

▼ [2] Let´s create a border effect.
■[2.1] Select the layer on the bottom with [Layer] > [Change selected layer] > [Layer Below]
■[2.2] Activate border effect from the [Layer Property] palette. Edge Thickness of 3 for this size.
■[2.3] Click on edge color to change the border color. In this case i used purple but we can change this later.
■[2.4] Create a selection from the layer by right-clicking the Thumbnail then [Selection from layer] > [Create selection]. Its also possible to use the layer settings like we did before. This selects the original pixels whitout the color border.

■[2.5] Rasterize the layer to merge the border.
■[2.6] Then go to [Edit] > [Delete] to remove the original pixels & keep only the border. Then [Select] menu > [Deselect]
■[2.7] With the move layer tool selected move the border layer to simulate 3d dimension.

▼ [3] Now lets add some color.
■[3.1] [Layer] > [Change selected layer] > [Layer Above] To select the copy with the original information. Duplicate it and then [Layer] > [Change selected layer] > [Layer Below] to reselect it.
■[3.2] Create a gradient layer from [Layer] > [New layer] > [Gradient]
■[3.3] Choose the gradient you want. We can always modify this later.

■[3.4] Create a clipping mask of the gradient layer to the text below. This constrain the gradient to the text edges.
■[3.5] [Layer] > [Change selected layer] > [Layer Above] to select the white text on top.
■[3.6] Using the move layer tool move the white text to create more dimension.

▼ [4] Finish the effect.
■[4.1] First lower the opacity of the top layer to reveal part of the gradient. Make it subtle i choose 85%.
■[4.2] [Layer] > [Change selected layer] > [Layer Above] to select the effect folder. Duplicate the folder.
■[4.3] Merge the duplicate folder into a single layer.

■[4.4] Remove the color with [Edit] > [Tonal Correction] > [Hue/Saturation/Luminosity]. Bring the saturation down to -100
■[4.5] Change the blending mode to "Add (Glow)" & lower the opacity to a suitable level i choose 50%
■[4.6] Go to [Filter] > [Blur] > [Motion Blur]. Set the angle to 0 & play with the strength to achive a subtle motion glow. Then stop the recording.

▼ [5] Here is the final Text effect. Interesting color with a 3d look.

▼ [6] After applying the action use it as base & experiment with different colors, blending modes etc. Move the layers around if you want to achieve different results.
■[6.1] Change the gradient from the [Tool Propierty] palette.
■[6.2] Use [Edit] > [Tonal Correction] > [Hue/Saturation/Luminosity] in the border layer to change the color.

8.3 Creative actions | VCR Noise FX

For my last example action, I will create a VCR glitch inspired finishing effect.
▼ [1] I will start with a photograph and like before i will make the effect Non-destructive by duplicating the original layer.
■[1.1] Right-click Duplicate the original Base layer.
■[1.2] Right-click Create Folder and insert layer. Rename it (VCR in this case) & Change the color.
■[1.3] Select the Base copy [Layer] > [Change selected layer] > [Layer Below] & Change the blending mode to "Screen"
■[1.4] To finish the base structure of the action. Duplicate the base layer & then duplicate the copy. This way we have 3 copies of the original image set to "Screen" blending mode inside a folder.

▼ [2] Now lets separate the RGB information into each layer.
■[2.1] Go to [Edit] > [Tonal Correction] > [Level correction].
■[2.2] Instead of working in the RBG select individual Channels.
■[2.3] Move the Highlights Output handle from the right all the way to left. This removes the channel color information. In this case i removed the Red & Green channels so I'm left with Blue.
■[2.4] Rename the layer Blue for organization.

■[2.5] Repeat the same steps for the layer below. [Layer] > [Change selected layer] > [Layer Below]
■[2.6] Go to [Edit] > [Tonal Correction] > [Level correction].
■[2.7] This time Remove the Red & Blue channels so only Green information remains.
■[2.8] Rename the layer "Green" then [Layer] > [Change selected layer] > [Layer Below] to select the last layer.
■[2.9] One last time [Edit] > [Tonal Correction] > [Level correction], Remove Green & Blue. Rename the layer "Red"

▼ [3] Create a chromatic aberration & Glitch distortion.
■[3.1] Using the Move layer tool move the Red layer a bit to simulate color fringing of VHS or VCR.
■[3.2] Select the green layer with [Layer] > [Change selected layer] > [Layer Above] & move it too.
■[3.3] Do the same for the Blue layer. The misalignment of the color channels creates the chormatic aberration.

■[3.4] Select the folder [Layer] > [Change selected layer] > [Layer Above] Then right-click Merge Selected Layers to colapse the group in a single layer.
■[3.5] Go to [Filter] > [Distort] > [Wave]. Set the Shape to "Rectangular". Then play with the settings to create a glitch distortion. Keep vertical ratio to 0 to make the distorition horizontal.
■[3.6] Click the icon to create a new layer mask on the distortion layer.

▼ [4] Finish the effect with noise and Gradient map.
■[4.1] Create a new raster layer by clicking in the [Layer] palette.
■[4.2] Go to [Filter] > [Render] > [Perlin Noise]. Play with the settings to add Grain.
■[4.3] Set the layer to "Soft ligth" and lower the opacity. For this image i used 30%

■[4.4] Go to [Layer] > [New correction layer] > [Gradient map]
■[4.5] Select a gradient.

■[4.6] Set the layer to "Add (glow)" then lower the opacity. Then stop the recording.
■[4.7] After applying the action paint with a soft brush & transparent color in the distortion layer to hide the effect in some areas.
■[4.8] Double click the Gradient map layer to change the gradient.

▼Here is the before & after. Try to experiment with finishing actions & special fx in your own work.

Closing thoughts

Well, this is the end of the tutorial. I hope it wasn't too complex. I tried to explain all the important details but maybe i talked too much.
Try to create your own Actions. Just remember the Technical limitations & Conditions. Also keep in mind Performance, Layer priority and Relative & Specific commands.
I hope you can apply some of my tips to your own work.
The most important thing is to be creative. Please don't be afraid to try new things.
See you next time. Thank you for watching.


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