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Automating Image Mergers in Photoshop CS2

Creating actions for merging Smart Objects, layers and layer groups By Dave Nagel
Last time around in Adobe Photoshop, we took a look at three methods for merging documents in Adobe Photoshop CS2 while maintaining layer integrity. Those methods were light years ahead of the kinds of tricks you had to pull in Photoshop prior to the release of CS2. But they can still be cumbersome when you're trying to merge large numbers of documents. So today we'll take a look at how to automate this process. I'll also provide you with seven preset actions for handling a variety of situations.

Creating the action
In order to create our action, we're simply going to do everything we did in the previous installment in this tutorial series, which you can read by clicking here. The difference is that while we're doing it, we're going to have our Actions palette open so that each step can be recorded for later using in a batch processing operation.

If you don't want to know how to create your own actions for merging documents, be sure to skip forward to the last section in this article ("Bonus Download") to download a set of seven complete preset actions.

The exact way you'll create you action depends on the sort of document merging you want to perform. The method we discuss here and the options for each step assume you want to maintain the layer structure of all of the documents you merge. And it assumes you want to merge the documents into a single new image file.

Begin by creating a new document at the final desired dimensions for your project. Make sure it's called "Untiltled 1" or some other name that you will use any time you run this batch process. For this procedure, the name must be consistent, or the batch won't work properly. (The names of the individual documents that will be merged don't matter.)

Then open up a sample document that contains multiple layers. It doesn't really matter which document. We're just using it for the creation of our action.

Now it's time to create the action itself.

Open up you Actions palette. Create a new set by clicking the folder icon at the bottom of the Actions palette. I'll name my set "Nagel Series 3 Actions (Merging)," since that's the name of the set of actions I'm providing for download later on.

Then add a new action tot he set by clicking the new action button at the bottom of the Actions palette.

The action is now recording, and everything you do from this point on will be recorded in the action. So if you need to do something outside the scope of this action, be sure to pause the recording by hitting the Stop button at the bottom of the Actions palette.

Now all we need to do is work quickly through each step we want included in the action, which will involve creating a group out of our existing layers, and duplicating that group to the document entitled "Untitled 1." (Remember, each of these steps is covered in detail in our previous tutorial, which you can read by clicking here in case you need additional information.)

1. Begin by typing Option-Command-A (Mac) or Alt-Control-A (Windows) to select all of the layers in the current document.

2. Now type Command-G (Mac) or Control-G (Windows) to create a new group from the layers you've selected. (You can skip this step, if you don't want to use layer groups. You can also, instead, choose to merge the layers into a Smart Object by choosing Layer > Smart Objects > Group into New Smart Object.)

3. Then choose Layer > Duplicate Group. If you did not group your layers in Step 2, then choose Layer > Duplicate Layers instead. If you created a Smart Object from your layers in Step 2, choose Layer > Duplicate Layer now. In the dialog that pops up, set the target to "Untitled 1."

4. Finally, close your image without saving. This adds the final step to your action, and you can now stop recording.

When you stop recording, you can then close Untitled 1 as well.

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Related Keywords:adobe photoshop, merging documents, merging layer groups, combining layers, placing images


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