Welcome to EarlK Design!

The EarlK Design blog consists mainly of entries that show how to do things using Adobe Photoshop that I hope you will find helpful and give your creative mind more tools to work with.

I use Adobe Photoshop CS6, and sometimes Adobe Illustrator CS5, Lightroom 5, and Corel Painter X. However, I believe that much of what I show can be done using Photoshop Elements.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Quick Tips with Earl Number 4

Do you want to be able to find the center of your image or use the Rule of Thirds in setting up your image? It's easy to use your Ruler Guides to show you centered guides and Rule of Thirds guides. I will even show you how to make an action to do this for you automatically. And, if you are using Photoshop Elements and can't make actions but can use an action made in Photoshop CS (provided your version of Elements can do what is in the action), I have the actions saved and available for you to download. Here is an example of centered guides.
And, here is an example of Rule of Thirds guides.
Let me show you how to do this. Open your image. It will be on the Background Layer. Make sure your Rulers are showing (Command/Control-R).
The next thing you could do is to go  to View/New Guide.
In the New Guide dialog, select Vertical and enter 50% for position and click OK. You get the guide at the 50% position in the vertical. Go back to View/New Guide and in the New Guide dialog, select Horizontal and enter 50% for position and click OK.
And, you now have your guides centered in the image.

Now, if you wanted to make an action to do exactly what we have just done to create an action for creating centered guides, the action would not work. The reason for this not working is because our Rulers are in inches not percent. We need to change the Rulers to percent before creating the action. Control-click (Right-click) on the Ruler to open up the menu and select Percent. The Rulers are now in percent. I brought in the Actions panel so it is easier to see.
In the Actions panel, as seen here in this example, there are two folders that are called sets. These folders contain the set of Default Actions and My Actions. The Default Actions set has the actions that came with Photoshop. The My Actions set has the actions that I have created. I have not clicked on the little twirly arrow to show what is in the sets. We will create a new set to contain the actions that you will make. 
At the bottom of the Actions panel, click on the Create New Set button. A dialog will open asking you to give the set a name. I left the name as Set 1 and clicked on OK.
Now at the bottom of the Actions panel, click on the Create New Action button.
And, I gave the action the name Centered Guides. I didn't assign a Function Key to the action (you can if you want). And, I didn't give the action a Color (you can if you want).
Then I clicked on Record.

And now you see that the little recording button is red showing that everything you do from now on will be recorded until you turn off the recording. We have already changed the units of the Rulers to percent, so we are go to go with the recording. 

The first thing is to go to View/New Guide.
And when the New Guide dialog opens we select Vertical and make Position 50%. Then click OK.
Then go up to View/New Guide. Select Horizontal and make Position 50%. Then click OK.

And, we now have our centered guides and we can click on the Stop playing/recording button at the bottom of the Actions panel. 

And we now have an action called Centered Guides in Set 1. We should test it to make sure it works. First I tried it on the same image. I removed the guides. I selected the action Centered Guides and clicked on the Play Selection button at the bottom  of the Actions panel.

And I get my centered guides on the image.
Now we should try it on a different sized image and with the rulers set to inches.

Here I have opened an 8 x 6 inch document and the rulers are in inches. I select the Centered Guides action in the Actions panel and clicked on Play selection. And, lo and hold, we have our centered guides in place. It works! 
 You have now created an action that you can use whenever you need to place centered guides on your document.

Now let's create a new action to put guides on the image that are Rule of Thirds guides.  This is what we want to guides to look like when the action is finished running. We have a guide that is one-third (33.3%) of the distance from the left edge. Another that is two-thirds (66.6%) from the left edge. There is one guide one-third (33.3%) from the top. And, another two-thirds (66.6%) from the top.
 The first thing we want to do is make sure the rulers are in units of Percent. Control-click (Right-click) on the Ruler and select Percent. The rulers will now be in Percent (0 % - 100%).

In the Actions panel, click on the Create new action button at the bottom of the panel. I gave the action the name Rule of Thirds. And, since we did not have the Set 1 selected when we opened up the new action, I opened the drop-down menu and selected Set 1 as the set to put the action. And then I clicked on Record.

The Recording button turns red showing that we are now recording our action. Our rulers are in percent. Go to View/New Guide.

In the New Guide dialog, select Vertical and enter 33.3% for position.

The go to View/New Guide. In the New Guide dialog, select Vertical and enter 66.6% for position.
Now do the same thing for Horizontal 33.3% and Horizontal 66.6%. An d, we are through with creating the guides, so click on the Stop playing/recording button to end the recording of action. We now have the action Rule of Thirds that will place the guides like this.

I cleared the guides and selected the Rule of Thirds action and clicked on Play Selection to test the action, and it worked. I then chose another image with the rulers in inches and tested the action on it.
 And, it worked! Whew!
Now you have two actions that you have created, Centered Guides and Rule of Thirds, both of which are in Set 1. Any time you want to use one of them, just open your Actions panel, select the one you want to run and click on Play Selection and you have it done in a flash. Well, hopefully there is no flash, but it is really quick.

There is one more thing that you should do. That is to save your action. Your action will normally be in your Actions panel, but if you should have to reinstall Photoshop onto your computer, your actions will be back just to the default set that comes with Photoshop. Or, if you reset Photoshop back to its defaults, you will only have the default set.To save your Set 1, click on the little menu icon in the upper right of the Actions panel. Select Save Actions. You have to save action sets; you cannot save an individual action. If you have an individual action selected, Save Actions will be grayed out and you can't use it. So make sure Set 1 is selected.
You will be taken to the Save dialog asking where you want to save the action set. If you have saved actions before, you may want to save this set in the same place. However, I don't always do as suggested. I have a separate folder where I save Photoshop items, such as actions. When I want them, I load the action set into my Actions panel. So here, I will just save set to the Desktop.
This is what an action set looks like on my Desktop. Here is our Set 1 action, Set 1.atn.

For users of the Photoshop CS series, you are good to go. I hope this may help you in seeing how actions are created. They really are easy to build and use. However, sometimes there are little tricks, such as for these we needed to have the rulers in percent. But, if you always test the action, you can find out if something isn't working the way you thought it should. And, then you can find out how to get around the problem.

For users of Photoshop Elements, you can use actions created in Photoshop. Here is what Adobe has to say about installing Actions in Elements.



You can download this Set 1 action we just created for your use from box.com (go to the Quick Tips page to do so). If you are using Elements, you can install it and use it. If you are using Photoshop CS series, you can also download it if you want. But, you should already have it if you were following along with me while I created it. 

I hope that you found this Quick Tip interesting and useful.

Enjoy what you are doing!



Meg Stocks said...

Thank you!! What a fantastic idea!

Miss Renee said...

excellent tutorial. love it!

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