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How to Create an Awareness Avatar Action in Adobe Photoshop

Final product image
What You'll Be Creating

Join us as we celebrate Spirit Day to advocate against teen bullying. In this tutorial, we'll create an avatar that you can place on your social media using Adjustment Layers, Layer Blend Modes, and resources from Envato Market

What Is Spirit Day?

Every year, millions of people go purple to show their support of the LGBTQ community and the youth who are victims of bullying. Spirit day is symbolized by the color purple on the rainbow flag, which represents the word "spirit".

This year Spirit Day falls on 20 October 2016. And to celebrate this day, we'll create a simple Photoshop Action that allows you to create a purple themed avatar for your social media profiles. I was inspired by banners in print design for this look, so feel free to browse the wide selection of Banner Graphics from Envato Market for more inspiration.

1. Set the Presets: Banner Shape

Step 1

Before we get started on the action, we'll need to set up a few presets just to make things easier. Let's start by creating a simple banner shape.

Create a New Document at 500 x 500 pixels in Photoshop. Don't confuse this document for the avatar because we just need this to create a quick banner. Select the Rectangle Tool (U) and create a long rectangle with a color fill of purple #28173a. Then select the Pen Tool (P) and place an anchor point in the bottom of the rectangle.

Create a Rectangle for Your Banner

Step 2

Now select the Convert Point Tool and click the anchor point you just created to turn it from a smooth to a corner anchor point. Then use the Direct Selection Tool (A) to pull the anchor point upward while holding the Shift key to keep it centered.

Create a Banner From a Rectangle with the Pen Tool

Step 3

Once you're done, Right-click and select Convert to Shape, naming your new shape "Awareness Banner".

Convert the Banner to a Shape in Photoshop

2. Set the Presets: Swatches and Gradients

Step 1

Now let's set up the colors and gradients we'll need for this action. Access your Swatches panel (Window > Swatches) and create several new color swatches we'll need for this action. We'll need the following colors (excluding the color white) for these different avatar elements:

  • Bright Purple Text: #a85bcd
  • Top Circle: #a962b5
  • Bottom Circle: #834491
  • Dark Purple Text: #3e2c57
  • Black: #000000
  • Cream Banner: #dcdcdc
Swatch Preset Colors

Step 2

For the gradients, select the Gradient Tool (G). Double-click the active gradient to bring up the Gradient Editor. Set up your first gradient with a dark blue color #290a59 that goes into a bright purple #ba3ede. When you're finished, name the gradient and hit New to create the new gradient.

Move on to the next gradient. Create a similar one, this time using a dark purple #311759 to pale purple color #c675de.

Create New Gradients in the Gradient Editor

3. Set the Presets: Crop Preset

The last preset we're going to add is for the Crop Tool (C). This preset is only necessary if you're starting with a profile image that is not square. Select the Crop Tool (C) and choose W x H x Resolution. For this profile avatar, I'll be using the dimensions of a Facebook post image, so put 504 x 504 pixels with 72 dpi. Then select New Crop Preset from the drop-down menu and click OK to save the new preset.

Create a Crop Preset in Photoshop for your Action

4. Create the Resizing/Crop Action

Step 1

With all the colors, gradients, and presets set, we can move on to our first action. The first action we'll need to create is the resizing and crop actions to change the dimensions of your photo.

Open your photo in Photoshop. I'll be using this Woman Stock from Envato Market.

Young Woman Stock from Envato Market

Double-click the Background Layer in the Layers panel to unlock it and set it to Layer 0. Make sure that you do this step for every image you plan on using this action on, or else it won't work properly.

Double click the Background Layer to Unlock it

Step 2

Now go to Window > Actions to access the Actions panel. Select the folder to Create a New Set and name the new set Awareness. Then select the paper icon to Create New Action, naming the action "Resize". 

Create a New Awareness Avatar Action

Step 3

Automatically the action will start recording, so go to Image > Image Size and change the width to 504 pixels.

Create a Photoshop Action that Resizes Photos

Step 4

This action works perfectly if your image is already a square, but if it has a portrait or landscape orientation then you'll have to crop it as well to fit the square dimensions.

Let's practice this scenario on a different photo like this Young Woman Stock. After you Play the resizing action on your photo, move on to creating the crop action. To do this, follow the same steps as before for creating a New Action. This time, name the action "Crop".

Create an Photoshop Action for Cropping

Step 5

Once the action starts recording, select the Crop Tool (C) and pick the 504 px x 504 px x 72 dpi preset you created earlier. Move the Crop Tool (C) upward to frame the face and then Crop the photo. When you're finished, toggle the dialog on for the Photoshop Action so that you are required to manually crop the photo yourself.

Finish Recording Your Crop Action Using a Preset

5. Create the Color Effect Action

Step 1

Now that we've taken care of the dimensions of our profile photo, we can move on to the color effect. I'll be using my original stock to continue this tutorial.

First we'll create a quick blur action. Follow the steps from before for creating a New Action. Name this new one "Blur". Hit Control-J to create a Duplicate of your photo. 

Create a Blur Photoshop Action

Then go to Filter > Blur Gallery > Iris Blur, setting a blur of 10 pixels, before hitting OK. To avoid any problems with this action, make sure you Turn On the Dialog so you can manually create the blur, then Stop the recording of the action.

Step 2

Now let's start adjusting the colors. Create a New Action named "Color Adjustments". We're going to run this action as one long action, but you can stop between adjustments if you need to.

First, create a New Color Fill of black from the Layers panel. Set the Layer Blend Mode to Soft Light and adjust the Opacity to 60%.

Create a Color Fill for your Photoshop Action

Step 3

Go right into the next adjustment. Now create a Gradient Map Adjustment Layer of black and white and set it to Soft Light.

Set a Black and White Gradient Map to your Photoshop Action

While the action is still recording, quickly adjust the intensity of the colors with a New Adjustment Layer of Levels, and only change the Output Levels to 50, 255.

Add Levels to your Photoshop Action

Step 4

Now add a Gradient Map Adjustment Layer using the second purple gradient we created earlier. When you're finished, set the Layer Blend Mode to Color.

Add a Purple Gradient Map to your Photoshop Action

Step 5

Last but not least, finish the color adjustments with a New Adjustment Layer of Curves. Select the Blue Channel and lift the line up from the bottom slightly to give the image a blue tint. 

Now this color effect is finished, so hit the Stop button on the Actions Panel to stop recording.

Add a Blue Tint with Curves

6. Create the Banner Action

Step 1

Let's move on to the decoration. To decorate our avatar even further and show off our Spirit Day pride, we'll add some geometric elements and a little text. Create a New Action named "Avatar Banner".

Select the Polygon Tool (U), making sure that it's set for 3 Sides to create a triangle (you can also create a preset of this shape, as you did with the others in the beginning).

Create a White Polygon on your Avatar

Create a white triangle in the upper left corner, and Free Transform (Control-T) to rotate the triangle to fit the space better. Then Right-click to go to Blending Options. Add a Gradient Overlay with the following settings:

Change the Color Settings of your Polygon

Step 2

Now Control-J to Duplicate the polygon. Rotate it with Free Transform (Control-T) to set it in place and hug the upper right area. Hide the Visibility of the Layer Styles and set the Blend Mode back to Normal before adjusting the Opacity to 80%.

Duplicate the Polygon Shape for your Banner

Duplicate the polygon shape two more times. Follow the same steps as before to reposition them, and this time place them at the bottom of the composition. Set the first triangle with the same settings as the first. However, change the Layer Blend Mode of the last triangle to Hue with an Opacity of 53%.

Add two more triangle shapes for your awareness banner

Step 3

Now select the Custom Shape Tool (U) and use the banner shape we created at the beginning. Add the banner at the top left corner with a light cream color #dcdcdc. Then Right-click to go to Blending Options, adding a Drop Shadow with the following settings:

Add a Flag Banner to your Avatar

Step 4

The last shapes we'll be using are just two quick circles. Select the Ellipse Tool (U) and create a dark purple #834491 circle in the bottom right corner, adjusting the Opacity to 60%. Then Duplicate the circle (Control-J), bringing the Opacity to 100% and changing the Fill color to a lighter purple (#9e53ac).

Add Circles to your Awareness Banner

Stop the recording when you're finished.

7. Create the Text Action

Step 1

Now that most of our elements are done, we can move on to the text. Create a New Action named "Text". First add bright purple #9e4cc7 text to the top banner with the following settings:

  • Font: Franklin Gothic Demi and Franklin Gothic Heavy
  • Size: 18 and 24 pt.

Squeeze in a line with a Weight of 1 pixel in the middle of this text using the Line Tool (U).

Add Text to the Top Banner

Step 2

Then add text to the bottom circle with the following settings:

  • Font: Franklin Gothic Demi and Franklin Gothic Heavy
  • Sizes: 12, 24, and 30 pt.

Leave the main text at 24 point so that it draws more emphasis on the word "against." While the majority of the text will be white, change the word "against" to a dark purple color #33224c.

Add Text to the Circle

Step 3

Last but not least, I'm going to add a quick bit of light to the image. Create a New Layer and select the Brush Tool (B). Set the color to white and use a large Soft Round Brush to paint a single spot of white in the middle upper area of the composition. Set the Blend Mode to Soft Light and adjust the Opacity to 70%.

Add a White Spotlight to your Profile Avatar

You can include this as just another part of your Text action before pressing Stop for the last time.

8. Use This Action for Different Causes

One great thing about this action is that you can use it for different causes by simply switching up the colors. After you Play the action, simply experiment with the colors until you find something appropriate for the cause you're advocating.

Want to see an alternative version? Here I created the same avatar using pink colors for Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Breast Cancer Awareness Profile


The world could use less bullying. So I hope you join us in celebrating Spirit Day by showing your love for the LGBTQ community. Want to see more Photoshop Actions? Check out these tutorials below:

Create a Spirit Day Profile Avatar with Photoshop Actions
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