Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Creating a Handy Photoshop Action Macro for Rounded Corners

Adobe Photoshop can be a lot of fun. There are also some basic and very useful aspects of it that I'd like to cover such as its macro capability. The PS Action feature can save you time and effort by automating repetitive and time consuming work. If you spend time with Photoshop at all, becoming familiar with Actions and using them when necessary is wise.

Let's write a PS Action for our Rounded Corners Tutorial which has a lot of repeating, similar steps. This Photoshop Action will round the corners of an image that will be resting on a white background. I am not including step-by-step pictures because those tend to make simple tutorials unwieldy. If you place my instructions next to your Photoshop window, I'm confident you can follow along without a hitch.

  1. Open your image file and draw a rounded rectangle with a 10 pixel radius that will include the parts of the image you'd like. The rounded rectangle tool is under rectangle tool towards the bottom of the toolbox. The reason I am not putting this step into our action is because I want to leave the selection up to you. An important setting before we start: My Rounded Rectangle option box always has the Snap to Pixels box checked.

  2. Bring up the Action Palette by going under Windows menu clicking the Actions palette (Shortcut is Alt F9).

  3. There is a tiny forward arrow in the top corner of the Actions Window, click on that and choose New Action.

  4. You will get a dialog box. Give your action a name like Round Edges, specify a function key that you want to assign your action to. I chose Shift F5. Then hit the Record button which will write down all the steps that we take from this point on until we stop the recording.

  5. With the understanding that Photoshop is recording our every step, we start the sequence necessary to round the edges of the image. You don't have to hurry, in fact take your time to make sure you get your steps right.

  6. Go over to the rectangle in the layer palette and right click on it and choose "Blending options" from the pop-up menu. In Blending Options, pull down the "Fill Opacity" slider to zero. Press OK and exit.

  7. Go to "Paths" tab and from the arrow pull down menu, choose "Make Selection". Make sure "Feather Radius" is set to zero, and the "Anti-aliased" option is checked. When you press OK, your selection is now going to turn into "walking ants".

  8. Go to Edit and choose "Copy Merged"

  9. Create a new document (Ctrl N), keep the dimensions Adobe gives you, and Edit Paste or Ctrl V. The transformed image is now in a new file.

  10. We are done with the rounding and so ready to stop the action. Next to the red round record button on the left, there is a square button that lights up in blue if you hover over it. This is the stop button. Press on it to stop the action.


Now you can load any image into Photoshop, draw your rounded rectangle (as in Step 1) and run the action Round Edges by selecting and playing it from the action menu or by pressing Shift F5 or the key/key combination that you assigned to the action during its setup.


If you are not quite happy with a step or an action, it's easy enough to get rid of it. Click on what you'd like to delete and drag it down to the trash can in the bottom corner with your mouse.


Read through and perform steps 2, 3, 4, 5 above to activate an action, fill in any number of Photoshop tasks in between, and follow through with step 11 to finalize your new action. That's it!

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