Adobe's flagship image-editing software Photoshop has a powerful programming language built-in that allows you to record tasks as an 'action' and replay the steps to complete the task automatically.
Not only can you record your own but you can also import actions, opening up a whole range of effects and time-saving options – whether you're using an older CS or have signed up to the very latest Creative Cloud version.
So to add to our collections of Photoshop plugins and Photoshop resources, here are some great Photoshop actions that are free to download and install, for photographers, graphic designers, game artists and more. Enjoy!
01. Cold nightmare
This amusingly-titled action will transform a photo of a perfectly innocent scenario into a window on a dark world. In this example image, the archer probably shooting at a target takes on the look of someone who is definitely trying to kill a human. It’s amazing what some shadows can do.
02. Summer Haze
If you'd prefer to cheer up your images, take a sunny shot and make it intensely summery with this great turquoise haze effect. Outdoor portraits taken in natural light are most suitable for this filter.
03. Cross Processed
This one adds drama and vivid colour effects to your images by deepening shadows and making colours more saturated. It’s especially good for stormy skies, landscapes, buildings and ocean scenes.
05. Blue Evening
Blue Evening is the free component of a paid-for set called Touch of Drama, which gives you various ways to add a mysterious atmosphere to your shots. The strength of the blue cast depends on your starting colours, so click through to see a good selection of examples.
Add the eerie touch of a cool infrared chill to your pictures with this free photoshop action. This action creates two adjustment layers inside a layer group, allowing you to change the red and blue adjustments, as well as the contrast.
07. Teeth Whitening
Teeth aren't naturally a dazzling white, but sometimes they can appear grey or yellow in photographs depending on the lighting. This useful action can easily brighten up the smiles of family and friends by giving their teeth a clean white finish.
08. Color 024
Digital pictures are crisp and precise, but sometimes they can lack that nostalgic glow of a film photograph. By downloading this free action, you can adjust the colour saturation and create rich, sun-bleached photos that still retain a high level of detail.
Recreate the look of 2-strip technicolor film by downloading this free action. Popular in the 20s and 30s, 2-strip technicolor film exposed black and white film behind a green filter and a red filter. By merging the green and blue channels in different layers, this action simulates the 2-strip look without damaging the original image.
10. Hazy Afternoon
Perfect for oudoor pictures, the Hazy Afternoon action certainly lives up to its name by creating a soft gradient colour layer. Use this free action to make black and white or colour images, plus you can easily adjust the gradient until you get the exact look you're after.
This set of 11 actions convert your night-time images into twilight photos by introducing a colour cast and lightening the sky. The effect is rendered using layers, so you can adjust the degree of twilight by reducing the layer’s opacity, making it nice and flexible.
This handy selection of light leaks has been created using gradients, making it very flexible for adding non-destructive vintage effects to your images. The free version includes five high-quality leaks, all featuring support for 16-bit colour so you can achieve brighter-than-white highlights, and they also work with video!
13. 3D Map
A brilliant action that converts a flat vector map into an isometric 3D map mockup. There are three different styles of map available: sand, ice and grass, and the action also allows you to drop in your choice of buildings, trees, landscape elements and signs.
14. Hard Lomo Action
Deviant Art is a great place to find Photoshop actions, as this example from BlackLaceStock demonstrates. Included here is a set of actions that add a classic lomo-look to your images, akin to running an instagram effect.
Next page: 20 more awesome free Photoshop actions