Week 9 – Cartoon a Photo & Automate w/ Actions and Droplets


I was recently asked,  “Do you know of a way to convert a portrait to a cartoon?” My reply of course was, “Why not use Photoshop?” Instead of purchasing some online specialized tool, why not research something you can do yourself with Photoshop. And, not only that! Why not automate all of your creative Photoshop steps so that you can convert any photo to cartoon style with a flip of a switch. Photoshop has this capability built into it with Actions and Droplets. You can save all of your best Photoshop moves and formulas in customized Actions. You can save Actions or download other peoples. If you have an Action that you need quick access to you can save your Action as a Droplet. A Droplet is an executable applet that you can simply drop images on and the Droplet will execute Photoshop and the specified Action.

Actions are also an incredibly powerful automation tool. On one occasion I ran an action on a folder of over 1000 images which were all sized, converted and saved.

Week 9 Assignment: Creatively alter an image, record the process as an “action” and save it as a “droplet”

1) Watch the video tutorials below
2) Create and record your own photographic transformation as an Action.
3) Try running your Action on the same photograph and then on a different photograph. Does it have any errors?
4) If you have errors don’t give up. I have always had to troubleshoot my recorded Actions and re-record the process a few times, simplifying the moves and attempting to avoid errors. You don’t have to get it to work perfectly.
5) How would you create an “Action” that would create a frame around an image?
6) Once your “Action” is working when you play it, you can create a Droplet.exe file from (see video for instructions).
7) Note: When you are running filters on your image make sure your foreground and background color chips are set to black and white respectively. The results of many filters depends on the selected color chips

8) Note: Some people have noted that you have to be running Photoshop with administrative privileges (right click “Run as Admin”) in order for the Droplet to be created.
9) Note: When emailing your “droplet.exe” file you may need to change the file extension to .bak or .txt before zipping the file and attaching it to your email. The reason is that email servers like to block executable files in attachments because viruses are frequently transmitted that way. Viruses are executable files.


Turning it in:

To turn in your assignment post before and after jpg images to your online photo album and then post links to them in Blackboard. To post your Droplet you will need to zip it first. If you cannot get your Droplet or Action you can submit your .psd Photoshop file.

Note: Most email and file or content sharing systems do not allow you to attach an .exe file, this is because an .exe file is an executable program and viruses are also executable programs and usually transmitted by email attachment etc..

Author: Dan

Dan teaches computer networking and security classes at Central Oregon Community College.

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