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20 Photoshop Actions to Add Flair to Your Photos

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The non-professional photographers among us are often left with boring and flat shots from our cameras, the photos lack the flair and energy that is achieved with expert techniques and equipment. Photoshop Actions on the other hand, can help recreate some amazing photo effects, just by pressing a button! This post rounds up 20 of the best Photoshop Actions that allow you to easily spice up your photos with popular effects, including HDR, Soft Focus, Lomo, Velvia and more!

The Original

The original photograph

To test out each Photoshop Action, and to allow the action to be compared against other actions on the same shot I’ve downloaded this sample image, courtesy of SXC. Compare this shot with each of the following actions, which one is your favourite?

Fuji Velvia Effect

Photoshop Action photo effect preview

Recreate the popular photo effect originally created by using Fuji’s Velvia range of film, with this fab action from Pibweb.

Sepia Effect

Photoshop Action photo effect preview

Create a simple vintage Sepia toning effect with this action from 4thDynasty

Dark and Cold Photo Effect

Photoshop Action photo effect preview

This cool Photoshop Action from David Nanchin creates an eery dark and cold effect.

Soft Focus Effect

Photoshop Action photo effect preview

HD Stock’s Soft Elegance action produces a slightly blurred image with high contrast and a green tone.

HDR Effect

Photoshop Action photo effect preview

HDR photo effects are all the rage. Easily create your own high dynamic range photograph without any specialist techniques with this action from Forfie

High Contrast Vintage Photo Effect

Photoshop Action photo effect preview

Create an awesome old-time effect with this action from SD Stock. Key features include high contrast, adjusted colour balance and heavy vignette.

Cold Blue Colour Cast Effect

Photoshop Action photo effect preview

Produce a cold colour cast with high contrast with this second action from SD Stock.

Retro Colour Cast

Photoshop Action photo effect preview

Give your photos the typical retro look with this colour adjusting action from Amatorka.

Split Tone Photo Effect

Photoshop Action photo effect preview

Digitally create the popular split tone effect with this action from Paranoid Stock.

Retro Photo Effect

Photoshop Action photo effect preview

Give your shots the typical retro colour tones with this brilliant action from Marissaxxx.

Vivid Blur Photo Effect

Photoshop Action photo effect preview

Create vivid colour and a dreamy blur with this action from AlenaJay. Although it’s possibly more suited to portraits than landscape shots.

Grainy High Contrast Effect

Photoshop Action photo effect preview

This cool grainy effect was created by Alejandro Herrera to mimic the awesome filming effects used in the movie 300.

Cross Colouring Photo Effect

Photoshop Action photo effect preview

Create a cross colouring effect with this action from KalifBanane. Available with three various settings to provide dark, medium or light effects.

Vintage/Retro Photo Effect

Photoshop Action photo effect preview

This great action from Pseudonyfreak creates an old vintage/retro theme with yellows and browns.

Infra Red Photo Effect

Photoshop Action photo effect preview

Create the popular Infra Red photo effect without the need for specialist IR filters or film with this awesome action from Hanyasatu.

Pseudo HDR

Photoshop Action photo effect preview

This second HDR action produces another high dynamic range effect, without the need for multiple exposures. This action from FinesseFX provides deep colours and sharp detail.

Cross Processing Effect

Photoshop Action photo effect preview

Traditional cross processing effects were originally created by developing a film with the wrong chemicals, leaving a range of unusual tones and colours. This action from Mutato Nomine easily recreates the effect.

Harsh Colour Balance

Photoshop Action photo effect preview

This action from Shagagraf creates an unusual colour tone adustment to give a semi-retro photo effect.

Soft Black and White Conversion

Photoshop Action photo effect preview

This handy action from FinesseFX converts your shots to black and white, with a soft and pure glow.

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77 Comments

  1. Dzinepress says:

    amazing idea for make every kind of picture outputs even we getting some retro and vintage outlooks as well.

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  2. Mark McCann says:

    Some great actions in there, looking immediately at some of them have given me ideas.

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  3. Fringl says:

    Hey, nice list! Thanks for the mentioning the source/software used.

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  4. curryegg says:

    Nice list of photo effects.. :)

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  5. Hunny says:

    Thanks for posting… I’ll see what else I can come up with … love this blog!!

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  6. DesignBoy says:

    i love the Retro Photo Effect. Old School!

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  7. Great post. I like how you actually took the time to run each action on the same photo and show us examples.

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  8. fantastic!
    I love the dark and cold image.

    gorgeous, and very effective.

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  9. Bene says:

    Super Nice, I am super new in actions on photoshop, sorry guys, I am total noob on photoshop :D my passion is coding valid CSS/Xhtml, this is gonna make my photos way more better.

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  10. Sergi Snow says:

    nice.. but it would be better if they will be in 1 rar or zip file..)

    sorry for my engish. it’s not my native languadge..

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  11. McBonio says:

    nice one mate, some great actions you have picked out.

    I agree with Design Informer, it was cool to see the various actions used in examples

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  12. TC says:

    I am completely new to actions. Can you please tell me how I can use actions “just by pressing a button?”

    Thanks!

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    • Download the action file, then in Photoshop open up the Actions window (Windows > Actions).
      Click the little arrow in the top right corner to open the little options panel.
      Load the action from wherever it’s saved on your computer.
      You sometimes need to drill down into the folder to select the file, then simply press the play button at the bottom of the Actions window.

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  13. Kevin says:

    Great collection of actions! Dont know how useful they will be for me but its always good to have them just in case.

    Kevin

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  14. TC says:

    Hey Chris,

    Thanks a lot for the “how to.” It’ll be hard choosing a favorite from all of these good ones.

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  15. Silver Wolf says:

    Thank you very much, I love all your articles.

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  16. Kevin says:

    I love how you used the same image for every action, this makes it much easier to compare.

    I recently posted a similar article full of photoshop actions to enhance your photographs. You can find it here: http://theroxor.com/2009/11/14/enhance-your-photos-with-these-great-photoshop-actions/

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  17. I love the Retro Photo Effect too quite nice work .. hope to see more ??

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  18. andrewbenardski says:

    This is superb! thanks for this resource!

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  19. khia says:

    thanks, i really like the retro photo effect.

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  20. bike locks says:

    The harsh color balance is great. Whole set is nice though.

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  21. Pril says:

    thanks a lot! ^.^

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  22. Nice list of actions. Thanks for sharing

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  23. Designi1 says:

    Really nice tips…

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  24. These useful tips help even the most artistically challenged people have a creative flair. Thank you!

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  25. navas says:

    Nice, thanks for the tips.

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  26. Mundir says:

    Hey Chris,
    A super post as usual and im trying some of the effects right now.
    Keep the good stuff coming.

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  27. I thought i was using my photoshop, but i’ve realized that i was only using it 5%. Guess i’ll have to work on it some more.

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  28. I love photoshop! The effects you can do in photoshop always seem to amaze me. Great post Chris!

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  29. tashi says:

    thanx for the links..really is very resourceful..my fav is the old vintage and the sepia effect..awesome..thanx once again!

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  30. Garry Aylott says:

    Hey Chris,

    Great post, will nab a couple of these.

    My fav is the Grainy High Contrast Effect. Having said that, a different one will be my fav next week.

    You got a fav out of these Chris?

    Cheers!

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  31. Mesothelioma says:

    I love the sepia effect……make me feels like i’m back in the 80′s

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  32. FreeDating says:

    Wow, I should play around wth photoshop effect to try enhance my pictures! Thanks for the motivation

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  33. Vivid Blur………where can i find that effect in Photoshop?

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  34. w3planting says:

    Nice actions, thanks for sharing it , Retro Photo Effect is cool !!!

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  35. Mark says:

    I liked the third from the top ‘cough’

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  36. Andy Eaton says:

    There great for any photographer user. some look really cool

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  37. I love the vintage-retro photo effect the best…Thanks for this post…

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  38. JIMMI says:

    Very useful and cool actions – thanks!

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  39. Brilliant post! fell in love with the retro effect. Thanks for sharing.

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  40. calgary web says:

    perfect love it , will be using for sure

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  41. rob says:

    Good special effect!

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  42. Autonomy says:

    Love the Dark and Cold. Thanks for the list!

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  43. I could really use this for my Site!

    Thanks!

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  44. Amazing!
    Thanks for the list.

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  45. Rosewing says:

    chris.. i really appriciate that… thanks to share

    Regards

    Rosewing

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