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Actions problems

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  #11  
Old 06-01-2012, 06:39 AM
CKAJCA CKAJCA is offline
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Re: Actions problems

Quote:
Originally Posted by 0lBaldy View Post
Thank you so much for that link, it was just what I need. When I have time I will work my way through it. When you see a document lke that you realise just how little you know :-)
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  #12  
Old 06-01-2012, 06:41 AM
CKAJCA CKAJCA is offline
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Re: Actions problems

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Originally Posted by ratpat13 View Post
Ok so i noticed some problems with the steps in the action. The chief among them that if you wanted to use the action on a document without layers then the action wont run because the first step "Select All Layers" isn't available since there are not layers. Doing the "Merge Visible" while holding down Option/Alt also isn't an option when there are no layers so you will need to do it by Keyboard command (all keys at the same time Shift>Option/Alt>Command>N>E)

To make sure the frequency separation layers end up at the top of your layer stack in the end, I would select the "Low Frequency" layer and go menu: Layer>Arrange>Bring to Front. Then continue with the rest of the steps.

1. holding all keys | Shift>Option/Alt>Command>N>E
2. rename the new layer "Low Frequency"
3. menu: Layer> Arrange>Bring to Front
4. Duplicate low "Low Frequency"
5. Rename "Low Frequency copy" to "High Frequency"
6. Continue with normal steps.

I've attached an updated sets of action with this fix.
Your explanations and examples are great and have clarified the situation and problems I have been having. Your time and effort in replying is very much appreciated :-)
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  #13  
Old 06-01-2012, 06:44 AM
CKAJCA CKAJCA is offline
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Re: Actions problems

I stumbled across the Julieanne Kost's blog just after I posted my problem and although it helped me to figure out what was causing my problem, I still couldnt fix it. :-) Thanks for the reply much appreciated also
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  #14  
Old 06-01-2012, 09:43 AM
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Flora Flora is offline
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Re: Actions problems

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Originally Posted by CKAJCA View Post
I stumbled across the Julieanne Kost's blog just after I posted my problem and although it helped me to figure out what was causing my problem, I still couldnt fix it. :-) Thanks for the reply much appreciated also
Sorry to hear that ... I wrote this action following Julieanne Kost's tips and it works perfectly (even several times in the same retouching process) ...
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  #15  
Old 06-01-2012, 10:58 AM
CKAJCA CKAJCA is offline
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Re: Actions problems

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Originally Posted by Flora View Post
Sorry to hear that ... I wrote this action following Julieanne Kost's tips and it works perfectly (even several times in the same retouching process) ...
Do not worry, I am the one that should be sorry because I am not bright enough to use the information provided :-)
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  #16  
Old 06-16-2012, 04:30 AM
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AKMac AKMac is offline
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Re: Actions problems

I finally got round to the "one sentence answer" answer (apologies to Ol' Baldy) to solving compatibility issues re. layer names, Background/Non Background Layers and stacking orders when writing an action.....which is...

After clicking "Record", do the following, Opt . (full stop) > Shift Opt Cmnd N > Shift Opt Cmd E, then carry on with the action writing.

This should make the action fully compatible for any subsequent file. If you run it on files with only a Background layer, you will get the message, The object "Front Layer" is not available. Just click "Continue" and carry on.

For Windows, those shortcuts would read..
Alt . (full stop) >Shift Alt Ctrl N > Shift Alt Ctrl E

Hope this is helpful.
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  #17  
Old 06-16-2012, 08:55 PM
bdeshazer bdeshazer is offline
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Re: Actions problems

(Apologies for the length of this post but this is something that I've spent a LOT of time investigating lately and thought the information presented might be helpful and of interest to some of you.)

tl;dr - truly transparent action writing is hard. actions + scripts = good. Enhanced and improved separation actions attached, download and enjoy

It is can be difficult to create actions of even modest complexity for the general public without imposing aspects of your workflow. The assumption of a background layer is one issue I frequently see in both free and commercially produced actions. Other common problems are 1) not considering that an action may be run on an image with multiple existing layers (i.e. - not just an image with a single 'Background' layer), 2) not considering that the action may be run with the active layer inside one or more nested layer groups, and 3) flattening an image to achieve a result instead of building a merged layer (when needed) and working from that.

Of course Adobe hasn't made things terribly easy either as certain layer selection and moving operations have definite quirks to them that you have to take into account.

For instance, if you execute the "Bring to front" operation (Cmd-Shift-]) on a regular layer inside a nested layer group, that layer will be moved to the top of the existing layer group. However, if it is already at the top of it's layer group, it will be moved to up to the next enclosing layer group right above the layer group it was previously a member of. Finally, if you execute this command while a layer group is highlighted, that layer group is brought to the absolute top of the layer stack, regardless of how far down it was previously nested. That is three different outcomes for the same command depending on the context!

Another example is trying to create a new layer at the absolute top of the layer stack from an arbitrary location inside nested layer groups. If you just create your new layer and execute "Bring to front" as described above, it may only move inside it's current group or at best move into an arbitrary posting in the layer group above it. Executing "Select front layer" (Opt-.) and then creating your new layer will work IF the current top layer is a collapsed layer group. However, if the current topmost layer is a group which is visibly expanded, the resulting layer will be created inside this group and you must then execute Bring to front" (Cmd-Shift-]) to break it out to the very top.

Another option that works is to create a group, create your layer inside that group, select the group you created, execute "Bring to front", and then delete the group WITHOUT deleting it's contents (and to get that to work as a recorded action, you have to do the delete from Layer->Delete-Layer menu item). Oh, and of course to make this work regardless of what group name is automatically created you have to select the group using "Select forward layer" (Opt-]) instead of selecting the group by clicking on it. Of course, you could create the group with a specific layer name, but you always run the risk that someone running your action might have a group already named that inside their document… how many times do you run an action you downloaded that leaves the layers named "Layer 1", "Group 3", etc., lol!?

ratpat13 did a really good job of modifying the two actions to work from just about anywhere, the key being that he creates the group LAST and then moves the group to the top of the stack. There are still a couple of issues with his approach though, the first of which is that if the action is run when there are pixel-filled layers above the active layer, you will not be able to visually preview the gaussian blur effect because the pixels in the layers above will be obscuring the layer. To easily illustrate this, take an image with only one layer (i.e. - background), duplicate that layer, select the original, bottom layer and then run the separation action. When the gaussian blur dialog pops up you will not see the preview of the blur effect in the main image window.

This issue can be easily solved by either grouping and moving the layers prior to performing the blur, or turning visibility off on all other layers, doing the blur and then restoring the other layers visibility. The version of the separation actions I have attached uses the latter method.

Secondly, rapat13's version cannot be successfully ran more than once on an image because his version of the actions are selecting layers by name. Several steps use commands such as (Select layer "Low Frequency") and (Show layer "High Frequency"), etc. This issue can be corrected by instead using commands such as "Select backward layer" (Shift-Opt-[) and similar commands that use relative layer selections in place of absolute references to layer names. This takes a bit of effort to figure out how to make it all work and can become increasingly more difficult/complicated as you add more layers and groups to your actions. For me this functionality is important in my own frequency-separation actions because I use this technique for things like applying image sharpening in addition to skin work and so will often have 2-3 "sets" of frequency-separation layers in my files.

I am attaching an updated version of the actions that I have named "Not Patrick's Frequency Separation" (original, eh?). The bulk of the work has been moved into a single action called "Frequency Separation". This action calls a small script file which automatically determines the bit depth of the current image and then runs the appropriate 8 or 16-bit action that just does the appropriate "apply image" step for that bit depth, then control returns to the main action to complete. (Make sure you put the "Bit_Separate.jsx" file in your Presets/Scripts folder or the actions will not work!!!). This removes the possibility of human error by running an 8-bit separation on a 16-bit image or vice-versa. Another advantage to this approach is that if you want to make changes to how the action works you only have to do it in one place, the main "Frequency Separation" action, and the functionality is updated for both bit-depths. This also allows you to assign a single short-cut key to the main action and never have to worry about manually checking your image before doing a separation. Note that the 8-bit action includes a "stop" step at the beginning to warn you that you're working on an 8-bit image. I never intentionally retouch on 8-bit images if I can help it but have done so accidentally (loaded a JPG copy instead of the PSD and didn't notice soon enough) so I include this step in my own personal frequency-separation actions and duplicated the functionality here. If you work on 8-bit images a lot and don't like being warned about it every time just uncheck this step in the actions palette for the 8-bit action.

In my own work I find myself more and more turning to combining scripting with actions because of the extra power scripting affords and not having to worry about relying on weird tricks. I also frequently create action "subroutines" like the 8- and 16-bit which comes in really handy (but I believe actions-calling-actions functionality was only added a few versions back in PS). I had previously created a "Breakout Layer" action that a lot of my other actions called, which simply consisted of 10 identical "Move current layer To: front layer" steps. I picked 10 because I rarely work in layer groups nested more than 6-7 deep, so 10 seemed safe. It always bugged me as being inefficient though and I also knew that one of these days I was going to run one of my actions that depended on this when I was 12 groups deep and then be scratching my head wondering why things weren't working right! Just this past week I wrote a simple script that will automatically bubble the selected layer or group to the top, regardless of how deeply nested it is. For me the really neat thing was that I just had to update my one "Breakout Layer" action to call this script, and my 70+ other actions that relied on this functionality were automatically updated! Modular programming at it's best!

Back to the topic of these separation actions, you could make them slightly more efficient/less complicated by moving the layers before doing the separation, but I'll leave that as an exercise for you to figure out. Additionally, at the end of the main action I had to resort to a few "tricks" in order to select the HF layer like the original action did. If you don't care about having to manually expand the group and select the HF layer yourself you could delete all the steps starting from "Ungroup Layers current layer" to the end of the action. Figured I'd mention this in case anyone pulled it apart and thought I lost my mind with me deleting the group, the back-to-back "make layer/delete layer", re-creating the group, etc. Trust me, it's all needed for this to work

I'm including a copy of my "Breakout Layer" script in the zip file as well in case anyone would find it handy. In fact, if you incorporated it into these actions you could REALLY simplify them, but again I'll leave that as a hands-on exercise for you.

These actions were tested in PS CS5 on 8- and 16-bit versions of a file which had a variety of layers and groups nested 10 groups deep. I am confident I eliminated all of the issues I discuss above but if you have any problems or just want to ask me questions about any of this feel free to reply here on the thread or PM me. Obviously from the length of this post I love to talk and write
Attached Files
File Type: zip RPSeparation.zip (9.7 KB, 7 views)
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  #18  
Old 06-17-2012, 12:56 AM
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ratpat13 ratpat13 is offline
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Re: Actions problems

Hi bdeshazer,

Great contribution. You are completely right, I was begin both lazy in not using keyboard commands to move my layer sections independent of layer names and giving too much emphasis in the layout of the action to my own workflow by not moving it to the top of the stack first.

I love the action script you provided for the 8/16 bit determination, such a time saver and infinitely more simplified.

I've gone ahead and updated my FS action to incorporate this along with the suggestions you and Flor pointed out. I'm going to post it here just encase anyone wants it. It does what your did but removed a few steps you made in cleaning up my mistakes (thank you). Particularly the creating group then deleting group to recreate was removed and resolved by creating the new blank layer then moving it to the top of the stack before merging visible and then using your grouping order to keep the group expanded by the end of the action.

I also added one more part to the action that is more about my preference in how to do FS. It doesn't affect the workflow of the action but it adds a copy of the high frequency layer set to normal and clipped to the layer beneath it. I like to do this so I can work a little more none destructively on my high frequency layer. If people don't want this step then go with bdeshazer.

Not that I included bdeshazer script but it has been updated with some fixes to spelling errors (like i should be talking) and to reference the new action names.

I also wanted to ask bdeshazer a question about scripting. DO you have any sources you can point to for scripting Photoshop tools? A lot of my workflow actions end by selecting a tool preset that gives me the proper tool and some simple settings. The attached action ends with selecting the clone tool but would love to us a script that selects the clone tool and then sets it to clone only the “Current Layer.” I hate using tool presets in actions, as it’s just another thing to have to remember to put in place.
Attached Files
File Type: zip Frequency Separation.zip (6.1 KB, 2 views)

Last edited by ratpat13; 06-17-2012 at 03:05 AM.
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  #19  
Old 06-17-2012, 05:18 AM
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AKMac AKMac is offline
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Re: Actions problems

There is obviously a lot of in-depth knowledge about actions and related issues, as demonstrated in the last two posts, but, for most people, actions are only written occasionally. The average PS user doesn't want to spend precious time reading up on the ins and outs of action writing. The whole idea of actions is to save time. That is why I attempted to write a one sentence solution to compatibility issues for day-to-day, occasional action writing. I know it will not cover every scenario, but if it solves 75% of the most common issues then it is very useful. I suspect a lot of people who approach action writing just give up after a few attempts because of these basic problems. I guess my attempt at a one sentence solution could be improved, refined or replaced.
Is it possible for one of the knowledgeable contributors to present, in one simple sentence, a useful, everyday approach to action writing?
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  #20  
Old 06-17-2012, 05:21 AM
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AKMac AKMac is offline
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Re: Actions problems

Also, can we separate the general issue of basic action writing from the specific scenario of writing a Frequency Separation action?
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