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  1. Design & Illustration
  2. Photoshop Actions
Design

How to Make a Special Effects Photoshop Action

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Difficulty:BeginnerLength:MediumLanguages:
Final product image
What You'll Be Creating

In this tutorial, you will learn how to make Photoshop portrait actions to create your own Matrix effects.

I will try to explain everything in so much detail that everyone can create it, even those who have just opened Photoshop for the first time.

If you want to create this Photoshop effects in a single click, giving your portraits a colorful photo effect, you may be interested in this Pixels Photoshop Action from my portfolio on GraphicRiver. With it, you can add an awesome Pixels special effect for pictures in just a few seconds.

Link Pixels Photoshop Action

Or for more options, try these awesome roundups of the best photo effects and Photoshop actions out there.

What You'll Need

To recreate the design above, you will need the following portrait photo:

1. How to Add a Pattern and Brush to Photoshop

Step 1

Go to Edit > Presets > Preset Manager... In the Preset Manager window, select Preset Type: Patterns and click Load...

Browse and select the Matrix.pat file that came with the downloadable attachment. Then, click Done.

Step 2

Go to Edit > Presets > Preset Manager... In the Preset Manager window, select Preset Type: Brushes and click Load...

Browse and select the Matrix.abr file that came with the downloadable attachment. Then, click Done.

Preset Manager

2. How to Set Up Your Document

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 color. To check these settings, go to Image > Mode.
  2. Make sure your first layer is the Background layer. If not, go to Layer > New > Background from Layer.
  3. For best results, your photo size should be 2000–5000 px wide/high. To check this, go to Image > Image Size.
Layer from Background

Step 2

Add a New Layer above the Background layer. Name the new layer brush.

Now choose the Brush Tool (B), pick a soft brush, adjust the size of the brush, and brush over your main subject. You can use any color; it doesn't matter.

Brush Layer

3. How to Create the Action

Once our images are placed, we are ready to start recording our action. We'll put it in a separate set for easier management.

Step 1

Go to Window > Actions or press F9 on the keyboard to open up the Actions panel. Then, click the Create new set icon, name the set Matrix Action, and click OK. We'll place the action inside this set.

Action Panel

Step 2

Click the Create new action icon and name it Matrix. Click Record to start recording all the subsequent steps in Photoshop.

From this point onwards, everything you do will be recorded, so please be careful and keep an eye on the Actions panel. If you make a mistake, click the Stop playing/recording icon, and Delete the unnecessary step from the Matrix action. Then click the Begin recording icon again to continue.

New Action Panel

4. How to Create a Displacement Map

Step 1

Hide the brush layer by toggling the eyeball icon off. Then, press D on the keyboard to reset the swatches.

Hide Layer

Step 2

Select the Background layer, go to Layer > New > Layer via Copy (Control-J), and then go to Image > Adjustments > Desaturate (Control-Shift-U) to desaturate this layer.

Go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur and set it to 4 px. After that, go to File > Save As… (Shift-Control-S) and save our texture as a PSD file. We will need this file in the next steps.

Gaussian Blur

Now you can remove this layer, so go to Layer > Delete > Layer.

5. How to Create Horizontal Blurred Lines

Step 1

With the brush layer selected, right-click on the layer thumbnail, and hit Select Pixels. Then select the Background layer and go to Layer > New Fill Layer > Pattern and select the Matrix pattern, set the scale to 50%, and click OK.

New Fill Pattern

Step 2

Click on this layer mask thumbnail and go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur..., set the Radius to 25 px, and click OK.

Mask Gaussian Blur

Step 3

Click on this layer thumbnail, and then go to Select > Color Range…, select Shadows, and click OK.

Color Range

Click on the layer mask and go to Edit > Fill… > Black and click OK. Now go to Select > Deselect (Control-D).

Step 4

Go to Layer > Smart Objects > Convert to Smart Object.

Convert to Smart Object

Step 5

With the Pattern Fill 1 layer selected, right-click on the layer thumbnail, and hit Select Pixels. Then select the Background layer and press Control-J to Copy the selection into a New Layer.

Go to Layer > Rename Layer... to rename the new layer Matrix Pattern. Now you can remove the Pattern Fill 1 layer, so select the layer and go to Layer > Delete > Layer.

Matrix Pattern Layer

Step 6

Now make two copies of the Matrix Pattern layer. Select the layer and go to Layer > New > Layer Via Copy, repeat the process, and name the new layers Blurred Lines 1 and Blurred Lines 2.

Drag the Matrix Pattern layer to the top of the layers in the Layers panel.

Matrix Pattern and Copies

Step 7

With the Blurred Lines 1 layer selected, go to Filter > Blur > Motion Blur… and enter the settings below:

Blurred Lines 1 Motion Blur

Step 8

Select the Blurred Lines 2 layer, go to Filter > Blur > Motion Blur…, and enter the settings below:

Blurred Lines 2 Motion Blur

6. How to Apply the Displace Filter

Select the Matrix Pattern layer and go to Filter > Distort > Displace… and use the following settings: Horizontal Scale: 10; Vertical Scale: 10; Stretch To Fit, then select our PSD file.

Displace Settings

7. How to Create a Pixels Stroke

Step 1

Now we are going to add a nice floating pixels effect. Go to Layer > New > Layer to create a new layer and name it Dots. Then select the brush layer, right-click on the layer thumbnail, and hit Select Pixels.

Select Pixels

Step 2

Select the Dots layer, Right-click the layer, and choose Create Work Path. Set the Tolerance value to 1 px and click OK.

Make Work Path

Step 3

Choose the Brush Tool (B) and select the Matrix brush. Then choose the Pen Tool (P), Right-click the layer, and select Stroke Path using the Brush Tool. Repeat this step once again to add more dots.

Stroke Path

Step 4

Now we can delete the path. Right-click the layer and choose Delete Path. Change the Blending Mode to Soft Light.

Delete Path

Go to Image > Adjustments > Invert to invert the dots' color.

8. How to Create the Background

Select the Background layer and go to Layer > New Fill Layer > Solid Color to create a new solid color fill layer, name it Background Color, and set the color to #000000 as shown below:

Black Solid Color BG

9. How to Make the Final Adjustments

Step 1

With the Background layer selected, go to Layer > New > Layer Via Copy to duplicate the Background layer and then drag that new layer to the top of the layers in the Layers panel.

Change the Blending Mode to Hard Light and drop the Opacity to about 50%.

Background Copy

Step 2

Go to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Brightness/Contrast and set the Brightness to 30 and the Contrast to 35.

Brightness and Contrast

Step 3

Go to Layer > New Fill Layer > Solid Color to create a new solid color fill layer, name it Background Color, and set the color to #3ab02e as shown below:

Green Solid Color

Step 4

Change the Blending Mode to Color.

Final Layer Panel

10. Finish Recording the Action

Finally, we have our action finished. Hence, in the Actions panel, hit the Stop button to stop the recording.

Stop Action

You're Done!

Now that you have this cool photo effect action, you can easily create stunning images in seconds.

I hope that you've learned something useful for your future projects.

Final Result

If you would like to create an image effect as shown below, using a single click in just a few seconds, then check out my Pixels Photoshop Action.

Pixels Link

If you liked this color effect for pictures, you might like these:


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