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Al Ward's Photoshop Productivity Toolkit: Over 600 Time-Saving Actions

7 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 002-5211443347
ISBN-10: 0782143342
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Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

Get Better Results, Save Precious Time, and Focus on What You Really Want to Do

Photoshop puts an astonishing amount of power in your hands. But that power comes at a price: it's easy to get lost in the program's complexity and spend far too much time on repetitive tasks when you could be focusing on creative work. The secret is to do what power users do—let Photoshop’s automation features handle the monotonous work and free up your valuable time.

This unrivaled resource from actions guru Al Ward supplies you with over 600 Photoshop actions that you can instantly apply to your work. Tackling basic to complex processes, the actions on the CD allow you to automate routine production tasks, make color and tone enhancements, apply artistic effects, and much more—most of the time with just one click. Al also teaches you how to customize and create new Photoshop actions to suit your precise needs.

Here's just a sample of what Al Ward's Photoshop Productivity Toolkit can do for you:
  • Correct color casts to restore natural tones
  • Sharpen photos to prepare them for print
  • Apply various aging techniques, from sepia toning to advanced wear and tear
  • Convert your photos to line art, oil paintings, clip art, and watercolors
  • Add impact to images with selective softening and focusing
  • Apply warp effects directly to text
  • Make stunning black-and-white images
  • Add borders, frames, and drop shadows
  • Resize images for different uses
  • Generate instant contact sheets
  • Format art for use on CD labels
  • And much, much more!

About the Author

Al Ward is a prominent author and member of the Photoshop community. His website,, supplies Photoshop users with treasured actions and information. He has authored and contributed to many Photoshop books and has written for Photoshop User Magazine and websites such as Planet Photoshop and Photoshop Café. Al serves as the official actions guru for the National Association of Photoshop Professionals (NAPP).

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Sybex (July 15, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0782143342
  • ISBN-13: 978-0782143348
  • Product Dimensions: 7.6 x 0.4 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,044,285 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

29 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Alaska Clint on December 7, 2004
Format: Paperback
Al Ward's Photoshop Productivity Toolkit is a good title for this instructional package (book and cd). At first I thought this was a "tips and tricks" handbook that delivered the goods on clever time savers and shortcuts. What I got was much more and pleasantly unexpected. The author, Al Ward, focused in on an "obscure" palette (at least to me); the "Actions" palette (under "Windows" in the toolbar). Now, I'm not a total novice in photoshop, but I'm no pixel Picasso either. The book introduced me to a whole new concept of working on images and text in Photoshop with confidence and speed while cutting the learning curve dramatically in this creative, complex and multidimensional application. It is an incredibly under-utilized super tool in Photoshop productivity, one well worth investigating for both the professional or serious image manipulator.

I had never used Actions before and wasn't inclined to especially with so many other dramatic filters and effects available. For the uninitiated user, it may be best to briefly explain what "Actions" do before reviewing this core topic in Al Ward's book. Essentially "Actions" is a recording program that once started, records nearly every command or effect you initiate on an image or text until you choose to stop recording. It records each command faithfully in sequence. Once a sequence of actions is recorded, it becomes an "Action Set" (a mini pre-set program) that can automatically replay the sequence or effect(s) on any subsequent image or text. When an Action set is created it becomes portable and remarkably versatile. You can load or unload action sets into the Actions palette at will (like color swatches from a swatch library). If you create a really cool action set, send it to a friend to try out.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Dale F. Mead on June 4, 2005
Format: Paperback
Unlike the other reviewers, I have been seeking a Photoshop actions/batch processing teacher for a year before discovering this book. To put up event photo galleries efficiently, I want to process images in bunches. So this book, recommended by people who heard my plight, is exactly what I expected and desperately need.

Literally scores of self-styled Photoshop "experts" now teach courses, from community colleges to week-end intensives, but all teach how to process one image at a time. NONE teaches these productivity tools, which are very powerful but also treacherous. For example, if the Action and Batch settings to open or save files aren't coordinated correctly, they won't work. Some rules are counter-intuitive, and Adobe's documentation doesn't reveal the traps clearly, let alone resolve them. Thus Al Ward's book is a life-saver.

That said, the other reviewers are right that he could make things clearer. For one thing, he could spend more time comparing actions to macros, giving an example of a macro in a word processing program and something analogous in Photoshop. Then he must explain the differences, notably that a "macro" in Photoshop is much more file-dependent than in a word processor. For example, a macro inserting a copyright notice can work any text file, whereas an action changing a file size can be scuttled by any number of factors. Thus actions aren't nearly as universal as a macro user might expect, and adapting them is far from obvious.

When Ward gets down to creating actions in Chapter 3, he starts out with a complex one "because I want you see that actions can be used for more than simple shortcuts." NOT!
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By S. Bonis on October 5, 2004
Format: Paperback
Al Ward's Productivity Toolkit is just that; a great toolkit. He does all the action crunching and you just simply load whichever action you need or didn't know that you needed. Want to be Ansel Adams, it's there in an action. Want to batch correct images; Al does the legwork for you. There are actions that I never even considered. I highly recommend this labor saving Photoshop adjunct. The instructions make it easy for even the novice.

Also recommended is another of his works:

Phototoshop for Right-Brainers: The Art of Photo Manipulation
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Cyn City on January 7, 2006
Format: Paperback
Sometimes you just need a little help in automating your Photoshop efforts. The program's Actions facility can help you avoid re-inventing the wheel each time, but designing that first wheel can be daunting. This book provides hundreds of suggested Actions, with step-by-step (literally) instructions on creating them. Some valuable possibilities are overlooked, but the Actions provided here are a treasure trove of time-saving macros.
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