How To Record Droste Effect Action in Photoshop

How To Record Droste Effect Action in Photoshop

Recently I have published Droste Effect action which is also available for free on Adobe Add-ons site. It is picking up and I expect to be my most popular freebie. In this post I will explain you how to record this or similar action.

Another task that I want to accomplish in this tutorial is to ask you whether you want to see a premium version of Droste Effect actions. If yes, please use the form at the bottom and provide me link to a sample of the effect you want me to automate.

Let's talk about the approach (planning action)

What we know about our task is that we want image to be scaled down for 5% with each new increment or layer. That's the case with action that I have recorded, action is scaling down starting image with 5% increment on each layer above. What we need to do? In essence, we need to duplicate image 19 times and then to scale each piece. That's not difficult to accomplish right? If you record the steps while creating the effect you can run action on any image and to get the exact same effect.

Another approach that you can take is to use the advantage of Smart Object layers. Smart Object layers keep a reference to the original image and will show you the current scaling percentage what is even easier, at least from my point of view. You do not have to remember last scaling percentage, you can see it in the Options bar. You can rasterize Smart Object layers, but you do not have to, you can use file created with action as a template if you want to. Just by replacing content on one of the Smart Object layers will update content on other Smart Object layers which are duplicates or clones.

What about requirements? You can think about color modes, if you want to duplicate layers, then you must work in color mode that allows layering. We will skip that step in our action. In case you want to distribute action, then think about this requirement. We are also talking about duplicating image, actually layer with the original image. What if there are more layers, in case you have layered file? The simplest solution is to record Flatten Image step at the beginning of action.

Steps to record Droste Effect action

We will take the easy approach and you can record action as you are creating the effect. Before we begin recording action you should open any image. Create new action in the Actions panel and give it a name: Droste Effect.

Step 1 Duplicate first document
This is an optional step which is not required, but it is always recommended to minimize potential mistakes of overwriting the original file. Go to Image > Duplicate and just click OK button.
Duplicate image step

Step 2 Flatten image
We will take care in case that current document has layers. Go to Actions panel menu and choose Insert Menu Item then go to Layer > Flatten Image to record step: Flatten Image.
Flatten image step

Step 3 Duplicate layer 19 times
We will record effect with 5% scaling increments. Go and press Ctrl/Cmd + J keyboard shortcut. Repeat 19 times in the row.
duplicate layers step

Step 4 Scale duplicated layers
After duplicating layers we need to scale them down. If you follow instructions then you have a total of 20 layers in your Layers panel and the top most layer is selected. Press Ctrl/Cmd + T keyboard shortcut to enter Free Transform mode. If you do not see percentages as measurement unit then right click on H field and choose Percent from the context menu.
change measurement unit to percent

Click on the chain icon between W and H in the options bar to constrain proportions. Type number 5 in H text field ( 5% because we are going from top to bottom in the Layers panel). Click on Commit transform in the options bar or press Enter/Return.
change scaling to 5 percent

Press Alt/Opt + [ on your keyboard to select layer beneath currently selected. Press Ctrl/Cmd + T to enter free transform mode again. Repeat process to scale the image, but this time type 10 instead of 5.
change scaling to 10 percent for the layer beneath

Now you probably do not need further instructions. Continue selecting layers beneath current using keyboard shortcut Alt/Opt + [ followed by Free Transform (Ctrl/Cmd + T). You just need to remember last applied scaling percentages to not mess things, everything else is easy and obvious. Leave the Background layer as it is, you do not need to do anything with that layer.
How To Record Droste Effect Action in Photoshop

That's it, test your action

I could mention that you can rename each and every layer after selecting it or after scaling it, but that's up to you, it is not required in order to automate creation of this effect. Open any image and run action. If anything is wrong you can download action that I have recorded while writing this tutorial and to compare it.

The main goal of this tutorial is to give you an idea how easy can be to automate tasks which are suitable for automation like this effect. Just look for the pattern, if there is some pattern/repetitive steps, then simply record action as we did in this tutorial.

You can also download my Droste Effect action from Adobe Add-ons which is created using Smart Object layers. In addition to what we have done in this tutorial, I have renamed all layers and action will create 3 Layer Comps so you can quickly preview effect with 5, 10 and 20% increment. Everything is achieved by recording steps to hide layers and to create Layer Comps what is also easy and straight forward.

Are you interested in premium version?


In case you do not want or you do not have time to deal with recording actions, please let me know whether you want to see a premium version of Droste Effect or provide me with link to sample effect which you would like me to automate and deliver as ready made one click Photoshop action.


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