New Document Action Preset

If your anything a hobbyists with Photoshop as I am, you may find yourself experimenting with a new technique or mixing filters.

I usually start with a prefab document size. Here is a great way to help simplify this new document preset with minimum clicks.

Define a new document Preset:

  1. To begin, open Photoshop, then go ‘File/New’.
  2. At the ‘New Document’ dialog set the following parameters, as captured below. Ultimately, set your desired options.
  3. Then select the ‘Save Preset’ command (encased in red).

Next give your ‘Preset’ a name. I kept it at the default 500×500, as captured below.
Then click ‘OK’ command.

From now on whenever, go to the New Document dialog that preset will be available in the drop down list, as captured below.

Assign the Preset to an Action:

Now that the Preset is created lets assign it to an action.
With no document open, go ‘Window/Actions’ to bring the Actions Palette to the foreground.

Next, select the ‘New Action Set’ icon (encased in red below), then give your Action Set a user friendly name. (I used MyActions).  This is just to separate the actions you create from the default Photoshop actions.

Next, hit the ‘New Action’ icon (encased in red below).

At the next ‘New Action’ dialog (captured below):

  1. Give your new action a Name. 500×500 in my case will represent my new document size. (encased in Red)
  2. Indicate which ‘Set’ this new action will go to. (encased in Blue)
  3. Assign (an optional) Function key that will quickly run this action at any time. (encased in Green)

Once the above information is supplied, hit the ‘Record’ command to the right of the New Action Dialog.

Doing so will close the dialog and the Action is ready to Record your every next move. As indicated by the following.

While in Record mode do the following:

  1. ‘File/New’
  2. Give the new Document a name. I used ‘Experimental’.
  3. Select the ‘500×500’ Custom Preset from the ‘Preset’ drop down list.
  4. Click OK.
  5. Go back over to the Actions Palette and hit the ‘Stop Recording’ icon. (encased in red below.)

It’s a pretty simple process, and now all you have to do whenever you need a quick new document is press the ‘Shift +F2’ keyboard shortcut assigned to it.

Certainly, this is a simple example and you can build on this action or others to add new prefab elements to help streamline productivity, weather it be for experiments or for real work flow.

Step and Repeat Affect

Simplify a step and repeat affect on a single image with the use of a selection and various Solid Fill/Adjustment Layers.

Open any image for this tutorial.
Get Measurements

  1. Press Ctrl + R (Mac: Command + R) to activate the Horizontal and Vertical Rulers.
  2. The Ctrl + A (Mac:Command + A) to select ALL. You should see a marquee selection surrounding the document bounds as captured below.
  3. Press the F8 key to bring the Info Panel to the foreground. Note the w/h (encircled in red below).
    Essentially I want three rows and three columns of varying color effects for the same image.
  4. Divide the w/h integers by the corresponding row/column number (in my case, it is 3).
    Rows: 450 divide by 3 = 150 pixels apart
    Columns: 306 divide by 3 = 102 pixels apart
    So now that you have those numbers, drag two Vertical guides from the left Ruler Bar and place them 150 pixels apart.
    Then drag two Horizontal guides from the top Ruler bar and place them 102 pixels apart.
Step and Repeat Affect

Create a Selection
Press the D key to deselect the original document selection from the preceding step.

  1. Click to activate the Rectangular Marquee Tool from the Toolbar.
  2. Click and drag from the uppermost left corner of the first guided section to create a selection (as captured below)
Step and Repeat Affect

Apply Solid Fill or Adjustment Layer to the Selection
With the selection still active:

Go to the Layers Panel and click the ‘Create New Fill or Adjustment Layer’ (encircled in red) icon command and from the list choose Solid Color. There is a total of 17 items from the list to choose from so each divided section can contain any one of these.

Step and Repeat Affect

At the Solid Color picker choose Black (#000000) or any color of your choice depending on desired effect, then click OK to commit.
The result will be a solid color fill in the previously selected area as captured below. The Layers Palette will also contain a new Color Fill 1 Layer that contains the solid color (black) that can be changed at anytime by double clicking the Layer Thumbnail.
Step and Repeat Affect

Obviously, a tab too solid! Simply change the blend mode to anything other than Normal from the Blend Mode list. I used Overlay.

Step and Repeat Affect

Repeat create Selection/Apply Solid Fill or Adjustment Layer to the Selection
Without creating a screen capture for every guided section (9 in total), repeat drag and draw a selection to the next divided area and apply any of the Solid Fill or Adjustment Layer to the selection.
Below is a final sample of all the Fill/Adjustment options I used.
Looking in the Layers Panel, you can see exactly which Adjustment Layers (based on the title) and Color Fills (based on the thumbnail color) I used.
Step and Repeat Affect

Add Border for each divided area
The quickest way to apply the same border to all the divided areas is to:

Right click on any of the Fill/Adjustment Layers (I chose the Invert 2 Layer) and from the context list choose Blending Options.
Tick AND select Stroke and set your desired options. My result will be a solid 2px white border on the inside of each divided area, as captured below. Click OK to commit Blending Options when finished.
Step and Repeat Affect

Here is the resulting Stroke Layer Effect to the document and notice the appended live Layer Effect to the Invert 2 Layer in the Layers Panel.
Step and Repeat Affect

Now all you have to do is replicate that Layer Effect for each of the other Solid Fills/Adjustment Layers.

Right click on the Layer that already contains the Layer Effect and then from the list choose Copy Layer Style

Then right click on Layer that does not have one and choose Paste Layer Style.Repeat the Paste Layer Style process for all the other Solid Fill or Adjustment Layers that you wish to contain it.

Step and Repeat Affect

Here is the final version:
Step and Repeat Affect

Photoshop Center Alignment Tricks

Here’s a few Alignment Tricks to help you Center a layer in your document or even within a selected area of your document.

For those who may not be aware of the ‘Alignment Options Bar’, you’ll find in on the ‘Option’s Bar’ whenever the ‘Move Tool (V)’ is selected on your Toolbar. (As I have captured below)

The only other occasion it is visible is in conjunction with Paths and Vector shapes via the ‘Path Selection Tool (A)’.


Method 1: SNAP Into Alignment

Note the only thing in your ‘Layer’s Palette’ is the default ‘Background Layer’ and enable Snap from the View menu.

Now, from the ‘Vertical (left) Ruler Bar’ click and SLOWLY drag a ‘Guide’ towards the center of this document. You should feel a slight SNAP as you get close to the center.

Next, click on the ‘Horizontal (top) Ruler Bar’ and SLOWLY drag a ‘Guide’ towards the center until, again, you feel a slight Snap, then let go.


So now, any object on your canvas should SNAP to the center of those converging guides.


Method 2: Linked Align

Here’s another simple technique. You have an object layer in your document and you’d like to center it, without resorting to the above snap to guides technique. Simply select the default ‘Background Layer’ and link the layer(s) you need to justify center. (As I have captured below, a single vector shape with the default Background)

Then with the ‘Move Tool (V)’ selected on the ‘Toolbar’, go to the Alignment Options area and choose the 2nd from left, ‘Align Vertical Centers’.

Then go to the other end and choose the 2nd last from right, ‘Align Horizontal Centers’.


Presto! your layer is centered. (Don’t forget to unlink it for further use)

Method 3: Align by Selection

Yet, another option without the use of guides nor the link trick is as follows. Select the layer you want to center in the ‘Layers Palette’.

Then ‘Ctrl/Command+A’ to select your whole document. (Alternatively, ‘Select>All’ menu option)
The selection is indicated by the Marque Lines around the whole document below.

Then as before, with the ‘Move Tool (V)’ selected on the ‘Toolbar’, go to the ‘Alignment Options’ area and choose the 2nd from left, ‘Align Vertical Centers’.

Then go to the other end and choose the 2nd last from right, ‘Align Horizontal Centers’.


Presto! your layer is centered.

Method 3b: Align to Arbitrary Selection

The same applies to arbitrary selections, combining the Snap/Guides use with the Alignment Options. Below I have an object in one area, the document divided into four sections, and I’d like to center the object layer inside the indicated Selection.

Select the object layer in your ‘Layers Palette’, as we did before. Then, with the ‘Move Tool (V)’ selected on the ‘Toolbar’, go to the ‘Alignment Options Bar’ and choose the 2nd from left, ‘Align Vertical Centers’.

Then go to the other end and choose the 2nd last from right, ‘Align Horizontal Centers’.


Presto! your layer is centered.

As below , certainly makes centering accurate and hassle free.


Decorative Type

Not that handy with the Pen Tool? But want a way to create the common swirls/flourishes trend objects. Here is a quick method.

Create Type Layer

Begin with a New > Document Preset of your choice. I used 500×500, White Background Contents at 72 Resolution.

Then add any type to the new document. As captured below, I used the word Rose
(Arial, Bold, 149pt)
Decorative Type with Liquify

Convert Type to Shape Layer

Next, Ctrl + Click (MAC:Command Click) directly onto the Type Layer (Rose) and from the context list choose Convert to Shape Layer as captured below.
Decorative Type with Liquify

The result will be as captured below, type converted to Shape Layer.
Decorative Type with Liquify

Filter > Liquify

Now with Shape 1 Layer Thumbnail active, go Filter > Liquify menu command.:

  1. Ctrl Click (MAC:Command Click) the Vector Mask Thumbnail to activate it as a selection.
  2. Then click the Add New Layer Mask icon command at the bottom of the Layers Panel.
  3. Ctrl Click (MAC:Command Click) on the Vector Mask Thumbnail and choose disable.
  4. You should now see a red x through the Vector Mask as captured below.

Decorative Type with Liquify Liquify – Twirl Clockwise Tool


  1. Activate the Twirl Clockwise Tool
  2. Set Brush Size/properties
  3. Then Press and hold along the edge to create auto twirls to the Mask

Click OK command to commit changes.
Decorative Type with Liquify Here is the final version.
Decorative Type with Liquify

MediaLab Sitegrinder – Styled Web Text Tips

Paragraph Type: Utilizing either the Anti-Alias to None or the -text hint requires a Paragraph Type Area and not a regular Point Type Layer.

Layer Naming convention:Site Grinder outputs css id selectors based on the caption of the Layer (or Layer Set), so it’s a good habit to condense Layer captions and keep them relevant to the element on the page layout (as captured below).MediaLab - Sitegrinder, automate site creation

Font Selection: Utilizing either the Anti-Alias to None or the -text hint on Paragraph type Layer will require a cross platform (end user) font face selection. (Examples: Arial, Times New Roman etc)

Multi Paragraph Styled Web Text: To create multi-paragraph styled web text there is one tweak you have to perform in order for it to be outputted properly.

  1. Click anywhere in the paragraph contents to activate the blinking insertion cursor. (encircled in red)
  2. Then set the Paragraph Palette ‘Add Space After Paragraph‘ property – I used 12 pt.
  3. Then hit the Enter/Return key to add the 12 pt carriage return between paragraphs.MediaLab - Sitegrinder, automate site creation

» Click here for Multi-Paragraph Sample.