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Automation in Photoshop

Clicking around with the Magic Wand? No need to. You can isolate images and align them automatically in a nick of time. Even those that seem tricky to isolate at first glance

Before we even start talking about the retouching process, I’m going to explain the basics of Photoshop automation – an extremely important thing when it comes to product image editing. The deal is that when we retouch product images, they normally come in batches. It means there are a lot of pictures with the same settings, coming from the same photo shoot. And they also have the same requirements, like the final size, alignment in the frame and so on. This is exactly what makes retouching for online stores a fast process with consistent image quality.

If we have similar images, it means that we are going to perform similar actions on all or at least some of them. So why do all these actions manually, why not just try and make Photoshop do the job? Photoshop has excellent features when it comes to automation. There are Actions, which are basically things you do in Photoshop recorded as a sequence of commands. It’s also possible to use Scripts, which are more powerful than actions. They require programming skills to be created, but pretty much everyone can use them.

This chapter is relatively short as we can't really discuss automation without a good grip on retouching process, but at the same time, we can't start learning about retouching until we learn at least a few essential things on automation.

It might seem easy in the videos, but all the retouching principles, especially the concept of the automatic isolation and alignment, are not so easy to master. A random person that gets to use them might not do it as efficiently as the person who invented and scripted this whole thing (me). Some of the actions require user input, some involve scripts usage, some are just tricky to use.

They won't work if you don't install them properly and don't put all the scripts in the specified folder. They won't work if the conditions are not right. Some actions won't run properly if there's no selection or no alpha channel in the image. Most scripts won't run on an image that wasn't saved to the hard drive, like any of the Untitled-# images that Photoshop uses when you create a new document and don't save it. The Alignment will not be done properly if there's trash on the background, and it doesn't matter whether it's very visible to or not. Automatic isolation with a selection active requires this selection to be placed differently depending on what exactly you're trying to do. Mannequin backside insertion action will not work if the backside is not selected or if the image order is wrong. There are so many reasons – but they don't have anything to do with the actions or scripts themselves, as everything has been tested many times. Some of the actions have been tested for years, and millions of images have been processed fast and easily with their help. And still, it happens sometimes that people try to use them for the first time, fail to do so properly and tell me that my actions don't work.

But this is not the way how it's supposed to happen – have a quick glance at the website, buy some actions and scripts and start retouching 3 times faster straight away. What I offer here is an opportunity to learn. Learning and understanding how to retouch with the help of scripts and actions can increase a retoucher's capacity manifold. I witnessed this before and I watched average output go from mediocre 100-150 to 600-800 not just because of all the automation, but because people's skill increased with their experience. You can't do it straight away though.

It's just like driving a car. People learn how to walk naturally, but walking speed is not even close to what you can achieve when driving. Driving, on the other hand, is not something you can do easily after watching someone else doing in in some video, especially if you've never done it before. And if you only know a few things about driving, you might find yourself in situations where your car “doesn't work”, only to realize later that you've forgotten to release the parking brake. While it's completely okay to refrain from driving, it's hard to argue that driving is much faster than walking, and, of course, it's pretty stupid to claim that cars are useless just because you can't drive. Same thing with the retouching automation system that I came up with after years and years in this field. It's not easy to learn, but if you can, retouchers that only do things manually will never be able to compete with you.

How can you compete with someone who can process hundreds of images daily, if you can only retouch a few dozens? You can't. This is the reason why professional product image editors keep their secrets so well, that you can't find a decent tutorial on the matter for free or for money – they just don't exist. Well, not anymore. I hope that people that take this course will be able to improve their skills and significantly increase their retouching speed. All you have to do is learn and practice, and it will all come in due time. I wish you the best of luck in your endeavors.

Next: Photoshop versions and languages compatibility


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