Presets vs. Actions

 In FX-Panel

Are you familiar with this situation? You buy a Photoshop action that promises great things. You’re trying to get it to work but nothing works! Instead of the great effect Photoshop returns only error messages. This is not going to happen with our FX Panel Presets! You want to know why? This article explains it.

Whether at, Creative Market or other platforms. Photoshop actions are extremely popular. Our free Frequency Separation action on FX-Ray is one of the most popular downloads for retoucher worldwide. But Photoshop actions are only effective if they really work. Most elaborate actions do not deliver the desired results without your intervention.

For many commercial actions you have to set your Photoshop’s interface to English. If additional materials such as patterns or brushes are needed, you must add them manually. You also have to ensure Photoshop adds the word “copy” to copied layers . Often you have to rename a layer, e.g. “mask”, and then brush a selection on that exact layer. And if you’ve set everything up accordingly – and a lot of time has passed – Photoshop tells you that the image can not be processed in 16-bit mode and crashes. If it works out, the result is often disappointing, because the original image is too big or the colors does’t match. This is of course a worst-case scenario, which I myself have experienced several times.

Typical error messages when trying to play an action.

It is completely different with the presets from our shop. All you have to do is drag a bundle onto the FX-Panel. It doesn’t matter whether your Photoshop is in German or Japanese. Required additional materials such as brushes or patterns are automatically loaded (and also deleted when uninstalling). All you have to do now is click on the Create button. Should more be needed (e.g. a selection), the FX-Panel will tell you exactly what you need to do. Intelligent algorithms automatically analyze your image size and deliver the best values ​​based on it. If you are not satisfied with the result, you can adjust everything with the preset option.

One preset instead of many actions

To explain the difference between our presets and Photoshop actions as pictorially as possible, I’ll take the Simple Extrusion preset as an example. It allows you to extrude a text, for instance. In the preset options of the FX-Panel, you can use a slider to specify in which direction the extrusion should go. There are 8 angles to choose from. For each of these angles, you would need your own Photoshop action.

The slider allows you to visually adjust the angle in the FX-Panel.
That would be the counterpart with 8 actions to the slider.

You can also define how deep the extrusion should go. For this you can choose a value between 1 and 1000 pixels in our preset. Even if you try that as an action only in 100’s (100, 200, 300 … 900, 1000), you would have 10 separate actions per angle. Say: 80 actions alone for the extrusion of 100-1000 pixels in 8 different angles.

The slider determines the extrusion depth in the FX-Panel.
Extrusion depth per angle defined as actions.

You do realize how quickly actions come to their limits, if you want to keep an effect variable. Apart from that, you can obviously do a lot more with our preset: define a color or gradient, apply layer styles, add contour etc. Simple extrusion is by far the most uncomplicated preset from the Layered Extrusion bundle.

Smart calculations

But that is not the only advantage. The FX-Panel is also much smarter than regular Photoshop actions. For example, it knows the current size of your document or selected layer. If you want to add a stroke with a size of 10 px to a text, this text looks very different for a document width of 500 px than for a width of 2000px. Because 10px are in a different ratio to 500 than to 2000. The FX-Panel calculates this ratio automatically and adjusts the stroke size accordingly.

The same stroke size of 10px at different image sizes (500px, 1000px, 2000px).

The superiority is even more understandable when it comes to document-specific calculations. How many elements of 20 px fit into your document? How long is the diagonal of your picture? What is the name of the parent order of your current document? Which font size does the selected text layer have? And the one above? Actions can not provide answers to any of these questions.


Actions are and will remain an important feature of Photoshop. They help us to automate certain processes. With a little practice, everyone is able to record at least simple actions and thus significantly improve their workflow. Therefore, actions can be integrated into the FX-Panel.

More complex (mostly purchasable) actions are usually associated with significant additional effort until they actually deliver the desired effect. Also, an action can only do one specific job at a time (unless it’s designed to do it all at once – but then it gets confusing). This is where the FX-Panel presets show their advantages. In addition to mathematical calculations (which actions are not even capable of) and the resulting smart values, our presets offer you many alternatives and options in beautiful and clear user interface.

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Showing 2 comments
  • Mike Hillebrand

    Hey Dom, Sag mal wenn ich jetzt in den Pannen Aktionen lade die z.B. von Grafikriver sind funktioniert das dann trotzdem auch ohne umstellen auf English ?

    • DomQuichotte

      Hi Mike, die Aktionen, die du ins FX-Panel lädst, bleiben unverändert. Sie müssen also auch ohne das Panel funktionieren. Wenn du dafür PS in Englisch brauchst, wird das Panel daran nichts ändern. Allerdings kannst du das Panel weiterhin auf Deutsch nutzen, selbst wenn PS Englisch sein sollte.

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