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  1. Design & Illustration
  2. Photoshop Actions
Design

How to Make a Photoshop Action to Add a Dramatic Effect to Photos

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Difficulty:IntermediateLength:ShortLanguages:
Final product image
What You'll Be Creating

In this tutorial, you will learn how to create a Photoshop action to add a dramatic effect to a photo in Adobe Photoshop. I will explain everything in so much detail that anyone can create it, even those who have just opened Photoshop for the first time. 

What You'll Need

To recreate the design above, you will need the following resources:

1. How to Start Creating an Action

Step 1

First, open the photo that you want to work with. To open your photo, go to File > Open, choose your photo, and click Open. Now, before we get started, just check a couple of things:

  1. Your photo should be in RGB Color mode, 8 Bits/Channel. To check this, go to Image > Mode.
  2. For best results, your photo size should be 2500-4000 px wide/high. To check this, go to Image > Image Size.
  3. Your photo should be the Background layer. If it is not, go to Layer > New > Background from Layer.
Checking image size and mode

Step 2

Now go to Window > Actions, and in the Actions panel click on the menu icon in the top-right corner, choose New Set to create a new set, and name it Dramatic Effect. Then, click on the same menu icon again and choose New Action to create a new action and name it Dramatic Effect.

creating new action

2. How to Reveal the Details

Step 1

In this section, we are going to reveal the details of the photo. Press Control-J on your keyboard to duplicate the Background layer. Then, press Control-Shift-U to desaturate this layer.

Desaturating layer

Step 2

Now go to Filter > Other > High Pass and set the Radius to 10 px.

Adding high pass filter

Step 3

Change the Blending Mode of this layer to Overlay and name it Reveal Details.

Changing blending mode

3. How to Create the Basic Color Look

Step 1

In this section, we are going to create the basic color look. Go to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Black & White to create a new black and white adjustment layer and name it Black_&_White.

Creating new black and white adjustment layer

Step 2

Now change the Blending Mode of this layer to Color and set the Opacity to 30%.

Changing blending mode and opacity

Step 3

Go to Layer > New Fill Layer > Solid Color to create a new solid color fill layer, name it Color Fill, and choose the color #0f0f99 as shown below:

Creating new solid color fill layer

Step 4

Now change the Blending Mode of this layer to Exclusion and set the Opacity to 20%.

Changing blending mode and opacity

4. How to Create the Focus

Step 1

In this section, we are going to create the focus. Go to Layer > New Fill Layer > Gradient Fill to create a new gradient fill layer, name it Focus, and use the settings below:

Creating new gradient fill layer

Step 2

Now Double-click on this layer thumbnail and, using the Move Tool (V), click and drag anywhere inside the canvas to position the gradient fill as shown below. Then, change the Blending Mode of this layer to Soft Light.

Changing blending mode

5. How to Make the Final Adjustments

Step 1

In this section, we are going to make some final adjustments. Press D on your keyboard to reset the swatches, go to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Gradient Map to create a new gradient map adjustment layer, and name it Overall Contrast.

Creating new gradient map adjustment layer

Step 2

Now change the Blending Mode of this layer to Soft Light and set the Opacity to 21%.

Changing blending mode and opacity

Step 3

Go to Layer > New > Gradient Map to create a new gradient map adjustment layer and name it Color Look.

Creating new gradient map adjustment layer

Step 4

Now Double-click on this layer thumbnail, and then in the Properties panel, click on the gradient to open up the Gradient Editor panel and enter the settings below:

Adjusting gradient map
The left color stop has color 275c8e, and the right color stop has color adb557.

Step 5

Change the Blending Mode of this layer to Soft Light and set the Opacity to 50%.

Changing blending mode and opacity

You Made It!

Congratulations, you have succeeded! Here is our final result:

Final result

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