Photoshop actions allow you to record a series of steps that you might do numerous times on other images, and then play back that series automatically on a new image. Photoshop CS4 comes with dozens of actions already created for you. In this article, I’ll give a pictorial and descriptive run-down of Photoshop’s built-in Text Effects actions.
See Related Posts at the end to click through to the other built-in action sets.
To open a non-Default set of built-in actions:
- Window > Actions
- Click on the menu icon at the top-right corner of the Actions panel.
- Look near the bottom of the menu where there is a list of seven sets (such as “Image Effects”).
- Select a set. It will added below the Default Actions set.
- Click the gray triangle to the left of the action set you just added, to open the list.
- Select an action, and click the Play selection button at the bottom of the Actions panel.
You can find more ready-made actions at the Photoshop Exchange.
Most of these actions work best on a single line of type.
Thin Outline (type)
This effect rasterizes the type, creates a 1 px stroke around it with the current foreground color on a new layer, and deletes the original text.
Medium Outline (type)
This effect rasterizes the type, creates a 3 px stroke around it with the current foreground color on a new layer, and deletes the original text.
Bold Outline (type)
This effect rasterizes the type, creates a 8 px stroke around it with the current foreground color on a new layer, and deletes the original text.
Brushed Metal (type)
This one rasterizes your text and applies a really convincing metallic effect using Curves and Color Balance. It also employs a multitude of filters, including Gaussian blur, Clouds and Motion Blur.
Cast Shadow (type)
This effect rasterizes your text and places a shadow below it which gives the illusion of a light source somewhere behind it.
Chrome (photo & type)
With this effect, you select a photo layer first and add type later. You will see a warning about this; click Continue. When you see a message to Edit the text, clcik Stop. Add you text and place it where you want it (Photoshop starts you off with a new text layer in black 12pt Helvetica.) Then press Play in the Actions panel again. A wavy copy of the photo is created, but this will only appear within the letters when the action is completed. The close-up image shows how the chrome effect is applied at the edges of the text.
Clear Emboss (type)
This effect works best with a photographic background, although a medium value works too. The clear emboss will not show up against solid white or black. A bevel and emboss layer effect is added to the rasterized text, and the fill opacity is set to 0%.
Die Cut (type)
Here, an illusion is created that you text is cut out of the paper. The text is rasterized and put through a series of changes such as Blur and Offset.
Frosted Glass (photo & type)
With this effect, you select a photo layer first and add type later. You will see a warning about this; click Continue. When you see a message to Edit the text, clcik Stop. Add you text and place it where you want it (Photoshop starts you off with a new text layer in black 12pt Helvetica.) Then press Play in the Actions panel again. This effect works best over an area with varying lights and darks.
Sprayed Stencil (type)
This effect “sprays” black 8 px around your text with a feathered edge, and clears the original text interior. It simulates a spray can effect around the edges of a stencil.
Text Panel (selection)
You’ll need to make a selection around your text first. Ctrl+click on the thumbnail (the big T) on the type layer. Then run the action. A new layer is created above your text which has a rasterized drop shadow down and to the left. A semi-transparent white is laid over your text. You can delete your original text layer and fill your background with a color to see the options with this effect.
Water Reflection (type)
This effect is similar to Cast Shadow in that it rasterizes the text and puts a copy of it underneath and upside-down. However, it retains the original text color and looks like it is being seen over water ripples.
Wavy rasterizes your text and turns it 90 degrees clockwise. Then it applies the Shear filter and flips it back upright.
Wood Paneling (type)
Through a long series of filters and commands, this effect rasterizes your text, fills it with a paneled wood texture, and applies a Bevel & Emboss.
Warp Squeeze (type)
Without rasterizing your text, this action applies text warp to it in the Squeeze style with 89% bend.
Confetti makes a duplicate layer of your type and rasterizes the duplicate. Then it applies a Tie Dye pattern overlay to it, and finally runs the Pointillize filter on it. It achieves a rather convincing image of cut colored paper pieces.
Running Water makes a duplicate layer of your type, then warps and rasterizes the duplicate. Then it runs the Zigzag filter on it and applies a pattern overlay layer effect of the Bubbles pattern. You’ll need to shut off visibility of your original type layer to see just the new version.