During our Martini Hour 035’s discussion on how to make a dekeWorthy screenshot, we mentioned that we’d share the Photoshop action that plows through many of these steps for you, especially establishing the correct color profiles. Because you need to include your own display color settings, it’s not particularly useful if I just pass along my version of the action. So I thought I’d run you wonderful members of dekeOnline through the steps to make your own.
Before you so much as start, you need to discover the profile you have assigned (or has been assigned by the hardware manufacturer) to your monitor. The best cross-platform way to figure this out is to switch to Photoshop and choose Edit > Color Settings. Then click on the More Options button under the Save button on the right side of the dialog box. (If it already reads Fewer Options, leave it be.) Go to the first RGB pop-up menu (under Working Spaces) and click on it. Then note the Monitor RGB item above the current setting in the menu. On the PC, chances are good that it reads Monitor RGB - sRGB IEC61966-2.1, or what we in the industry call plain old vanilla sRGB. On the Mac, it could be anything. Whatever it is, write it down.
- Step 1: Grab something useful off the screen and send it to the Clipboard. (Shooting to the Clipboard works better than to a file. Deke and I use Snapz Pro for Mac; I’ve been using SnagIt 9 on the PC.) Shoot only what you need, no more.
- Step 2: Back inside Photoshop, go to the Actions panel. And click the Create New Set icon (the one that looks like a little folder). This establishes a container that will house your new action. Name it something clever or salacious.
- Step 3: Next click the Create New Action icon (the page) at the bottom of the Actions panel. You are now recording an action. Name it something less clever and more useful, like “Make Screen Element.” Follow these next steps to the letter. Don’t worry about pace—you have all the time in the world. But don’t undo, or that’ll get recorded, too.
- Step 4: Back in the larger world of Photoshop, choose File > New. In the New dialog box, the Width and Height values are wisely set to the pixel dimensions of the Clipboard contents. Unfortunately, if you accept those settings, the action will remember them (and not the real on-the-fly Clipboard dimensions) forevermore. So instead:
- Step 5: Change the Width and Height values to 1 pixel apiece. Strange but true. Resolution doesn’t matter. I’m assuming Color Mode is RGB. Change the Background Contents setting to White. And click OK to make that new file.
- Step 6: Choose Edit > Paste to fill your tiny 1 x 1-pixel image with the contents of your Clipboard. You can’t see it, but it’s in there.
- Step 7: Choose Image > Reveal All and, just like that, you have a perfectly sized image. By working this way, your action will always produce a perfectly sized image. If you had let Photoshop create a new image based on the size of your current Clipboard (as by default in Step 4), then the action would always make an image that particular size. You’d have to decide to choose Reveal All or Trim based on whether your next screenshot was larger or smaller than the one you used to make the action. That wouldn’t be very automatic, would it? By starting with a 1 x 1-pixel image, Reveal All is always the right answer.
- Step 8: Choose Edit > Assign Profile. Ignore the warning that messing with color has potentially dire consequences by clicking OK.
- Step 9: In the next dialog box, click the third radio button (Profile) and choose the color profile assigned to your monitor (the one that you looked up in the second introductory paragraph). Here you’re saying, “This is the color condition under which I captured the screenshot.” Click OK.
- Step 10: Choose Edit > Convert to Profile. In the dialog box, change the Profile option under Destination Space to your Working RGB space, which should be Adobe RGB (1998). Leave the other options unchanged and click OK.
- Step 11: Save. Choose an appropriate destination. And see my note below. (Please.)
- Step 12: Click the Stop Recording icon (the square to the left of the red circle) at the bottom of the Actions panel. Your action is now complete.
Note: I like to re-record Step 12 for each chapter or large project I’m working on, placing the new image in it’s properly named folder, so that I’m not having to navigate windows in the middle of my beautiful automation. To change the Save step, drag the original Save step to the trash can in the Action panel. Then click the step above in the list, Convert to Profile in this case, to activate it. (This tells the Action genies where to pick up the action, so to speak.) Then press the Start Recording button, save any old guinea pig image to the new location, and click Stop Recording again. You can perpetrate this on any file, just don’t get confused and dump something random in a folder if it’s going to cause head scratching. You can also rewrite any step in an action this way, provided you have an image open upon which you can execute your new operation.
Let’s return to the snazzy opening graphic. The figure on the left is my original screen. The one in the middle was captured and then cut and paste into a new Photoshop file without any color profile adjustment. The image on the right was created using this action. As you can see, the third one is an exact match to the original, whereas the one in the middle is much darker and (trust me) slightly redder. (Then of course, I had to capture all three of them together on screen and use my action!)