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Free: Photoshop Action – 3 Color

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Go Media Photoshop Action - 3 Color Conversion

In the tutorial on Designing SceneXCore Apparel, I explain how to convert any photo to a 3 color separation in Photoshop. Which then enables you to take those layers and Live Trace them in Illustrator. But it was a little more confusing than it needed to be. I mentioned creating an action for it in Photoshop and have had numerous people ask me if I could send them the action. So I went ahead and saved it out and am sharing it with you.

To install the action, the easiest way is to open Photoshop, and then physically drag and drop the gomedia3color.atn file into your open Photoshop window. And it will automatically add the action to your actions palette.

Note: Sometimes after you complete the action, depending on how you have your layers set up, you might have to rearrange the 3 new layers it creates. The 3 new layers are the black, white, and grey layers. And they might be out of order. So you can figure it out once you run the action.

About the Author, Jeff Finley

I'm a partner at Go Media, a Cleveland web design and development firm. We also specialize in print design and branding. I started Weapons of Mass Creation Fest and wrote the book Thread's Not Dead, teaching artists and designers how to start a clothing company. In my spare time, I write songs and play drums in Campfire Conspiracy. I'm a happy husband and an aspiring b-boy and lucid dreamer.
Discover More by Jeff Finley

Discussion

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  • dankster

    this is great!

    im interested in having my photos printed as 3-5 color silk screen. do you know of an easy way to do separations? maybe even something like your provided action, but keeping colors and melting them down to the basics?

    any insight would be appreciated.

  • mark

    Thanks as always, Jeff – I also made one for the trace>expand>select_same_fill>delete steps for Illustrator, but I wasn’t sure how you felt about accepting files… yours would probably be much more epic anyhoo :)

    peace [m]

  • mark

    Thanks as always, Jeff – I also made one for the trace>expand>select_same_fill>delete steps for Illustrator, but I wasn’t sure how you felt about accepting files… yours would probably be much more epic anyhoo :)

    peace [m]

  • http://www.gomedia.us Jeff

    Dankster – I do not know exactly the best process for that. I am not a silk screener so I am curious as to what the best solution is myself.

    I heard it has something to do with Channels or something, but I never figured it out. I just send a full color jpg to the printer and they find a way to convert it and print it. It’s magic to me!!

  • http://www.gomedia.us Jeff

    Dankster – I do not know exactly the best process for that. I am not a silk screener so I am curious as to what the best solution is myself.

    I heard it has something to do with Channels or something, but I never figured it out. I just send a full color jpg to the printer and they find a way to convert it and print it. It’s magic to me!!

  • Dylan

    Hey I have a question im using a mac and this isnt working for my photoshop CS2 is there any ohter way I can apply this to my photoshop??

  • Dylan

    Hey I have a question im using a mac and this isnt working for my photoshop CS2 is there any ohter way I can apply this to my photoshop??

  • dankster

    this is great!

    im interested in having my photos printed as 3-5 color silk screen. do you know of an easy way to do separations? maybe even something like your provided action, but keeping colors and melting them down to the basics?

    any insight would be appreciated.

  • http://www.designsourcestudios.net DesignSource Studios

    Jeff,
    This is another wonderful example of how the artistic community is supposed to work. Thank you for sharing your knowledge and time with us. Great job and great article!

  • http://www.designsourcestudios.net DesignSource Studios

    Jeff,
    This is another wonderful example of how the artistic community is supposed to work. Thank you for sharing your knowledge and time with us. Great job and great article!

  • Covey

    Dylan:

    I also am on a mac and it worked fine for me. But you can also just drag and drop the downloaded file into:

    application>*your photoshop folder*>presets>photoshop actions

    That should help. Another way is to open up any random image and then just double click on the downloaded file (should be on your desktop). This will apply the action to the image as well as place the action in your action palette.

    Hope this helps:
    Covey

  • Covey

    Dylan:

    I also am on a mac and it worked fine for me. But you can also just drag and drop the downloaded file into:

    application>*your photoshop folder*>presets>photoshop actions

    That should help. Another way is to open up any random image and then just double click on the downloaded file (should be on your desktop). This will apply the action to the image as well as place the action in your action palette.

    Hope this helps:
    Covey

  • Nissanthen

    Thanks for sharing!

  • Nissanthen

    Thanks for sharing!

  • class_warrior

    You Go media chaps are all a little bit legendary really, aren’t you?! this is a huge help, thanks a lot. Keep it coming…

  • class_warrior

    You Go media chaps are all a little bit legendary really, aren’t you?! this is a huge help, thanks a lot. Keep it coming…

  • http://www.avangelistdesign.com Andy Parker

    Good to see someone elses action at work. mine are usually simple resizes. Im interested in how come you mid layer has come out as just a solid grey layer. wont this make it a little confusing for export to illustrator?

    Or is it just to give options in whether to pull two tone or three (including a base layer?)

  • http://www.avangelistdesign.com Andy Parker

    Good to see someone elses action at work. mine are usually simple resizes. Im interested in how come you mid layer has come out as just a solid grey layer. wont this make it a little confusing for export to illustrator?

    Or is it just to give options in whether to pull two tone or three (including a base layer?)

  • http://jimiyo.blogspot.com/ jimiyo

    TWhite referred me to this place. Pretty rad and inspiring yo! :)

    The action seems pretty handy. I do separations all day so I was trying to figure out how you did it. Fairly interesting. Never used the shadow select before. Might be a good tool for something now that I know it exists.

    woooooord!

    dangster: color photo to print with 3-5 colors is difficult unless you are printing on light colors like white and natural, then they can just CMYK-it. although its hard to find printers who are good at CMYK depending on content like people. skintones are difficult and highly saturated bright colors are tough to replicate on CMYK.

    another option. if you dont mind changing your photo to a tonal image, kinda like sepia… they could index or manual separate it to look very clean and almost like the original.

    ive seen a near perfect photo quality print done with three colors. pretty nice. white, brown, and light brown. its amazing what quality you can get with just 3 levels of tone.

    blah blah blah

  • http://jimiyo.blogspot.com/ jimiyo

    TWhite referred me to this place. Pretty rad and inspiring yo! :)

    The action seems pretty handy. I do separations all day so I was trying to figure out how you did it. Fairly interesting. Never used the shadow select before. Might be a good tool for something now that I know it exists.

    woooooord!

    dangster: color photo to print with 3-5 colors is difficult unless you are printing on light colors like white and natural, then they can just CMYK-it. although its hard to find printers who are good at CMYK depending on content like people. skintones are difficult and highly saturated bright colors are tough to replicate on CMYK.

    another option. if you dont mind changing your photo to a tonal image, kinda like sepia… they could index or manual separate it to look very clean and almost like the original.

    ive seen a near perfect photo quality print done with three colors. pretty nice. white, brown, and light brown. its amazing what quality you can get with just 3 levels of tone.

    blah blah blah

  • http://www.nadameansnothing.com chris

    hey jeff the action doesnt download for me….i dont know why…can you check out the link or something? ….
    thanks in advance!.

  • http://www.nadameansnothing.com chris

    hey jeff the action doesnt download for me….i dont know why…can you check out the link or something? ….
    thanks in advance!.

  • Mike

    so, once i’ve added the action to photoshop, how do i apply it to a photograph?

  • Mike

    so, once i’ve added the action to photoshop, how do i apply it to a photograph?

  • http://www.gomedia.us Jeff

    @mike – just press the play button on your action

  • http://www.gomedia.us Jeff

    @mike – just press the play button on your action

  • http://www.photoshopstar.com/ Eli

    Cool action – thanks

  • http://www.photoshopstar.com/ Eli

    Cool action – thanks

  • http://www.prisonplanet.com B

    the download doesn’t work for me either, it saves as a link instead of a file (.txt document or .html doc). i don’t have an option to save it as a file itself :(

    this site has definitely reinspired me to get back in the game. i took a little break since the job scene here blows. but i guess it is what i make it out to be, opportunity is everywhere really.

  • http://www.prisonplanet.com B

    the download doesn’t work for me either, it saves as a link instead of a file (.txt document or .html doc). i don’t have an option to save it as a file itself :(

    this site has definitely reinspired me to get back in the game. i took a little break since the job scene here blows. but i guess it is what i make it out to be, opportunity is everywhere really.

  • http://www.gomedia.us Jeff

    @ B: weird, i’m trying it in Firefox right now and I am able to download the .atn file.

  • http://www.gomedia.us Jeff

    @ B: weird, i’m trying it in Firefox right now and I am able to download the .atn file.

  • MikeyC

    While the layers are out of order, the gray layer mostly, just need to move it to the bottom and then it shows up right.
    The gray layer is the layer you use to change the color of the image.
    Works great in the little that I have played with it. Nice work Jeff.

  • MikeyC

    While the layers are out of order, the gray layer mostly, just need to move it to the bottom and then it shows up right.
    The gray layer is the layer you use to change the color of the image.
    Works great in the little that I have played with it. Nice work Jeff.

  • http://www.gomedia.us Jeff

    @ Mikey – yeah it depends on what you have your layers named originally – that will affect your final layer order. But just a quick rearraging will take care of it like you said.

  • http://www.gomedia.us Jeff

    @ Mikey – yeah it depends on what you have your layers named originally – that will affect your final layer order. But just a quick rearraging will take care of it like you said.

  • MikeyC

    The few things that I have tried did look better doing it that way. I do cut outs for a few sites so I keep the original cut and the use the magic wand to shape the gray layer,the color depends on what I am using as the stock.
    I should post a few things here for with what I have done so far.

  • MikeyC

    The few things that I have tried did look better doing it that way. I do cut outs for a few sites so I keep the original cut and the use the magic wand to shape the gray layer,the color depends on what I am using as the stock.
    I should post a few things here for with what I have done so far.

  • Annie

    Thanks! Great actions.

  • Annie

    Thanks! Great actions.

  • god

    hellow- can anyone tell me how this works? and does it work in photoshop 7? i dragged it into my image window- and its appeared in the actions thingy- but thats it- the image has stayed the same and pretty much nothing else has happend. is it me or does it need a little more explaining? help!

  • god

    hellow- can anyone tell me how this works? and does it work in photoshop 7? i dragged it into my image window- and its appeared in the actions thingy- but thats it- the image has stayed the same and pretty much nothing else has happend. is it me or does it need a little more explaining? help!

  • god

    my mate tried it on his cs2 and it didnt work either!

  • god

    my mate tried it on his cs2 and it didnt work either!

  • god

    ahhhhhhhhhhhhh ok- done it- big hugs to the kind folk here.

  • god

    ahhhhhhhhhhhhh ok- done it- big hugs to the kind folk here.

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    Great tutorial thanks

  • http://www.Smashious.com/ Smashious.com

    Cool! It works like a charme.