All about A Beautiful Mess Photoshop Actions

  Chloe-abmfresh(Edited with Chloe from The Fresh Collection)

A couple of days ago, we released three sets of Photoshop actions (compatible with Photoshop CS3 and newer) that we are incredibly proud of! Have you seen them? There are three collections: the Folk Collection, the Fresh Collection, and the Signature Collection (you can get all three here for a fancy discount!). We are so pumped to share these with everyone after months (Months! Crazy, right?) of brainstorming, changes, testing, and finalizing. I'm going to share with you a little of our process and a lot of what Photoshop actions are all about! So if you're feeling a little lost, hang on. πŸ™‚Springstellaopal-signature(Edited with Spring, Stella, and Opal from The Signature Collection)

Bridgette(Edited with Bridgette from The Fresh Collection)

So what are actions anyway? Photoshop actions are a fast and easy way to apply a wholly edited look to your photos. If you're familiar with Instagram and know how to apply filters to your photos, this is similar but is for Photoshop, with a LOT more variety and even more customization. Actions are easy to download and load into Photoshop, and they're fun and pretty addicting to play around with!

If you've never used actions before, you probably have a lot of questions! If you're wondering about how to tell if these actions are compatible with your program, or what version of Photoshop you have, or how to install the actions, you'll find answers and more on our Shop FAQ page

A couple of side notes: Photoshop has traditionally been pretty pricey, but right now until the end of March, Adobe has a sweet deal: Photoshop + Lighroom are available in the Creative Cloud for only about $10 a month!! What!? Here's where you can find that deal. 

Fresh-pinkspot(Edited with Celeste and Pink Spot from The Fresh Collection)

Signature + Lennon(Edited with Lennon from The Signature Collection)

Elsie and I started this process a few months ago, in November of last year actually! It's been so fun to collaborate on something that is equally creative and technical. I wish you could see our first draft of actions! Actually, I take that back. I'm glad those will never be seen by anybody. Hah! It's a lot of tedious fine-tuning and testing, but it is absolutely worth the hours we both put into it to create something that will be strong and usable. The ultimate goal was really just to create actions that we ourselves would love to use every day for the blogβ€”and we have been using them the past couple of weeks actually! πŸ™‚Fresh-luna(Edited with Luna from The Fresh Collection)

I'd like to share a little bit about our inspiration for each set of actions and the feel that they will give your photos, because each of the sets is very different! 

The Folk Collection – This collection is the first one we completed and it's dear to my heart. When I think of this collection, I think of things that are warm and familiar: an old box of photos, road trips, multiple cups of coffee, dreary days, or putting on a record. I think these actions are full of rich character and are the perfect amount of moody. Folk-collection-collageThe Fresh Collection – We created this collection while I think we were all dreaming of a Palm Springs getaway during winter months! It's a set full of bright whites, vivid colors, and is made to enhance modern design and fun, colorful portraits. We really love this set. The Fresh Collection :: Photoshop Actions by A Beautiful Mess
 The Signature Collection – This is our go-to collection for everyday. We've been using these looks the most here on A Beautiful Mess. They're reliable, sharp, and consistent! This collection has a great versatile range of actions, from soft to bold, warm to cool, and something for every season. Signature-collageThere are a couple of ways to get the MOST out of your actions! Of course these will all be great if you play them as they come, but we have some fun ways of stretching them further to create even more different looks. Folk-lucy2(Edited with Lucy from The Folk Collection)

The first thing you can do is to play with the layers that come with each action. When you play an action, you'll end up with several adjustment layers in your Layers window. Turn each layer off and back on (by clicking on the eyeball icon to the left of the layer) to see what each layer does! You can turn black and white actions into color actions that way, or lessen contrast and saturation–whatever you want to do! You can turn down the opacity of any layer, too, if your action happens to look a little too intense on your image. Blackandwhite-saturated(These photos are both edited with Magnolia B&W from The Signature Collection! The photo on the right has the "black and white" layer turned off.)

Another thing you can do if you're feeling extra creative is to mix up your actions! I like to think of mixing actions like creating photo recipes. You can play more than one action on an image and adjust the overall opacity on each action until you create a brand new look that you like! This is a great way to find a look that is unique to your style. Phxmargeauxleak2frankie2(Before and after: edited with Phoenix from The Fresh Collection, Margeaux and Light Leak 2 from The Folk Collection, and Frankie from The Signature Collection.)

Here's a quick tutorial video on using and combining your Photoshop actions:So how do you find your own style with these actions? A great way to get started is to choose one well-lit photo (use window lighting if possible! If you don't have any photos on hand, try taking a quick self-portrait by a window, or facing a window that does not have direct sunlight coming through it.) and play each action on it. Play around with changing the opacity too. We like to say not all photos are created equal, and some actions might look amazing on a bright photo, and some might look amazing on dark photos. Have a pen and paper on hand to write down your favorites or your favorite action combinations! The more you use them, the more you'll become familiar with what each action can do for your photos. It's like our moms always told us: Practice makes perfect. Willis-leak3(Edited with Willis and Light Leak 3 from The Folk Collection)

We'd love to see how you are using your actions! If you have any edited photos you are super proud of, please share them with us. Email us at elsie AT redvelvetart DOT com or sarah AT redvelvetart DOT com. And if you've blogged about using the A Beautiful Mess actions be sure and send us a link! We are excited to see what you all create! Fresh-lola(Edited with Lola from The Fresh Collection)

Folk-imogen(Edited with Imogen from The Folk Collection)

If you have any questions about adding these Photoshop actions to your style and workflow, just ask us in the comments below! You can also find a bunch of answers, some more videos, and lots of info on our Shop FAQ Page. We're really excited about these and I'm convinced these are going to totally up your photography game, whether it be your business, your blog, or your personal everyday photos! And don't forget to let us know what your faves are. πŸ™‚ xo. Sarah (+ Elsie)

P.S. We're definitely considering doing Photoshop Elements versions of these actions. It would just require a complete rebuild, so we plan on doing a reader poll in the coming weeks to see how many of you would be interested.

Credits // Author & Photography: Sarah Rhodes & Elsie Larson

  • Great post, and totally unrelated– but I’m dying to know where those green sandals (on the gal in the first photo) are from?! Thank you!! xo

  • i think all of these actions are so beautiful! and i have photoshop elements, so i would already tell you i would love to have them available for that. I would invest in all three packages in a heart beat!
    beautiful work, guys!!

  • Yay! These are beautiful. I’m a little lazy when it comes to editing my holiday photos, this will be a great way to get me started, thanks guys! <3

  • WOW, what an adventure you guys are on! Thanks for sharing. And THANK YOU for sharing that photoshop deal–I think it’s time for me to jump on board, and I’m excited about these actions as well! Congrats on the release. :]

  • You guys,

    These are so, so amazing.

    I’m currently editing a new tabletop shoot I’ve done with these actions, and I keep doing little excitement squeals. It’s so fun formulating multiple actions to come up with one heck of a beautiful photo.

    I’m excited to share the shoot with you guys so you can all see what your hard work has done for me πŸ™‚

    All the love in the world, ABM team


  • Hi πŸ™‚ As a techie, I found this really interesting! Great effects, would be very helpful to people who find photoshop a bit daunting !

    -Chaitra | PinkPot

  • These are so genius! ABM does it again! Looking forward to purchasing these soon!

  • Seriously ladies, thank you! Thank you for being willing to empower your readers to create beauty in this world. I love how you aren’t threatened to giveaway your “secrets” and make it possible for us all to grow and learn! I truly believe this is what makes you the greatest blog out there!

  • love the actions!! i’ve been on the hunt for some good photoshop actions with a lot of variety… these are the best i’ve seen!

  • A suggestion here real circumstances, sometimes people click photos that don’t look that great but the emotion in the picture makes you want to keep times like these this app could really work the you could probably make a video of how to make a not-so-pretty lookin photo into a gorgeous one using these actions. I think that would help illustrate the functionality of this product the best..
    Much Love.

  • I had been thinking there was such a gap in the market for something like this! As a relatively new shutterbug, I thought Photoshop was overly complicated (so I resolved to using the built-in filters in Aperture) but I’m so glad I can now use these actions instead. Thank you and congrats on a wonderful product! πŸ™‚

  • I LOVE this so much! πŸ™‚ I am going on holiday in a few weeks, and when I’m back I’ll be purchasing the Signature collection to help me edit all my photographs. Can’t wait. Well done again Team ABM!

  • I have to have the Signature Collection! Will be waiting for Monday when I get paid.. πŸ˜›

    So excited for this release. Congrats ABM team x


  • Will you have any classes for the mac version – Aperature? I am using a Canon Rebel and am interested in that class too but to see the amazing things you can do with editing..LOVE

  • I would be interested in an Elements version!!! I was bummed when I read through them and found it wasn’t for Elements!! Keep us updated! I love you guys!

  • Wow Christy, We really appreciate it!

    Honestly, the actions look so different for each person’s photos and style we don’t feel like we’re giving away our style so much as just offering a tool that we would love to use!

    Thanks for your kind words! πŸ˜€

  • Hey Krati,
    We do see your point here, and it’s true that actions can make any photo better even if it’s not the best quality image. I use a lot of black and white actions on my photos that aren’t in great lighting. πŸ™‚

    xx- Elsie

  • Thanks so much Olivia! I can’t believe we didn’t do it years sooner, but I’m so happy with the sets, they’re super useful for all of the different types of photos we take. πŸ™‚

    xx- Elsie

  • Hi Jenni,
    We don’t have any Aperature classes on the books yet, but if we get tons of requests we may consider it in the future.

    We’re super excited about the big range of photography classes we’re offering this season.

    xo! Elsie

  • No, they are not compatible with elements at this time. If we do create elements actions we will have to rebuild them from scratch- something we are still considering.

    XO! elsie

  • Love all these actions!!! Really impressed, I just wish I could purchase them and use them in Lightroom since I don’t have Photoshop πŸ™ But keep up the good work guys!

  • I would LOVE it if these actions were available in Photoshop Elements! I was all set to buy, but then bummed that they won’t work with Elements. I can’t imagine how time consuming creating all these actions was, so I know it would be another huge time commitment, but I would buy them in a heartbeat! What about just starting by releasing one collection for Elements? The Signature collection would be my pick, because I’ve been in love with all the photos on ABM for years. Congrats on the release! You guys are always doing such fun and awesome things and should be incredibly proud of yourselves:)

  • Hi Krati! We are recommending that you edit your color temperature and exposure in each image before you run the actions on them to get the most out of your actions, because they are built to work best with photos that are properly exposed. There’s a video in our Shop FAQ page that demonstrates the quickest way how to do that. (here: it’s called How to Pre-Edit your Photos in Camera Raw.) It would be impossible to create a set of actions that work with every exposure possibility. πŸ™‚ But we totally know about underexposed and overexposed photos! Not everyone can nail it straight out of the camera! This tutorial should will help you get those dark but sentimental photos prepared for editing. πŸ™‚ -Sarah

  • Is there a brand name to look the shoes up by? They are SO CUTE. But, I don’t live in Phoenix! πŸ™

  • Love these! Totally random question but does anyone know the make of the green shoes in the first photo? I’m officially in love πŸ™‚

  • I would love love love an Elements version!!! I was so excited for your release of the actions & then I read that they were only for photoshop. πŸ™ Thanks for the tip about photoshop/lightroom though, $10/month ain’t bad!

  • Tjoooho, this looks like so much fun! I love the look on the Folk collection. I`ll download it right away πŸ™‚ You girls are so talented!

  • These look like so much fun! Now I just need to pick a collection and get started. πŸ™‚

    I’d be really interested to see some more posts on your photography process on the computer. I’ve been learning to shoot in RAW over the past year, and it’s a big learning curve when it comes to editing photos. Any advice that you guys could give would be really fun and informative!

  • I would definitely buy a photoshop elements version of these–they’re gorgeous! Wish I could play with them!

  • I am always drawn into my local shoe stores in CA when I see the beautiful vintagthesee inspired designs from Re-Mix. I had to check their site just to be sure I was correct on the brand.(but this girl knows her shoes he he)
    Check them out:
    Btw I am a big fan of the photography on this site. I think it’s great to offer these effects, and not just keep your secrets to yourselves!

  • Your actions are beautiful! Gotta grab me a set! Keep doing what you do ladies ^_^

  • Thank you so much for this. I’m overwhelmed with all the beautiful possibilities (not a bad thing!) This a great guide and congrats again. Everything is dreamy and beautiful!

  • What an awesome job girls!
    Do the actions work on Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1? I only have photoshop on my tablet!
    XO Giorgia

  • Thank you SO MUCH for sharing the info about the deal that Adobe is offering — I am downloading right now. One of my goals this year is to get more advanced with my photography and photo editing. I am going to be purchasing a DSLR and the thought of learning it is making me nervous — but you guys always have something to help me out in every area!

  • Oh, my goodness!! this is an awesome blog! My favorite things all together in one place. I’m so excited. I found you through bloglovin’ and am so glad. Keep up the good work!

  • Yes yes yes to Photoshop Elements Actions! I would buy the complete pack so fast I wouldn’t know what to do with myself!

  • All of these photos are stunning.I love the richness in the photo of Emma in her wedding dress. Love that. And I dig the simplicity of the photo where Elsie is standing next to the calender. I have Photoshop Elements and it would be wonderful to be able to play around with these!

  • I’m excited about the actions but I’m really disappointed in the blog lately. I know change must happen and growth is needed but ABM feels incredibly impersonal and very much a business . It’s become one of my least favorites on my bloglovin feed when it used to be the blog I looked forward to reading daily.

  • Can I have an early vote? lol I have elements so I would love to have the action sets for that! πŸ˜‰

  • They’re lovely!!!!!! I’m so happy for yall. Thank you all so much for choosing to inspire. I love love love these filters. My question is, are they compatible with Lightroom as well?
    Lots of love,

  • ooh my, i would ever so love the tips for exporting them into Lightroom! prettiest please!

    so gorgeous ladies!


  • I have been looking for a new, fresh style for my brand and this is exactly what I’ve been looking for! I am so in love with these! Such a great product.

    I posted one of my favorite photos that I edited with your actions on my blog today! Feel free to check it!

    Again, thanks so much for your dedication to inspiring others!


  • Hi Ladies,
    madly in love with the Actions even though I haven’t purchased them yet. But will do πŸ˜€

    Have you thought of putting those actions as filters in your iPhone App?! Would love if I could edit my pics for insta with them πŸ™‚

  • I only have Photoshop Elements so I’m bummed I can’t use your actions, I would buy all 3 for Elements without blinking an eye. Please release actions for Elements, that would make me so happy πŸ™‚

  • I just bought the whole set and I love them!

    Also, while we are asking about fashion, where is that silver skirt from? I’ve been looking all over for it!

  • I purchased the 3 collections and I LOVE them! So many beautiful options! Question though…is there a way to see each action at once (like in your display photos where you have a grid of each action result)? Right now I’m just playing each action one at a time to see what the result will be and with SO many actions, that takes quite a bit of time! It would be easy to see the results side by side (like in a grid format) and be able to choose that way. Is that possible?

  • hi! I bought the mini collection a few days ago and find them very confusing to use. I guess I am not a very experienced Photoshop user, but I have worked with it for a while. Many of the actions I havent even heard of. I thought these actions were an automatic thing, not a step by step thing. Maybe you should say that these actions are for people that are very comfortable and familiar with Photoshop. Any tips would be very helpful because I really want to make them work for me! Thanks

  • Hi ladies! Perhaps this has already been asked but I’m a newbie to photoshop and wanted to confirm something before I purchased. I’m planning on purchasing the monthly membership for CC + Lightroom for ~$10/mo. Will I be able to purchase all your action sets if that’s the photoshop platform I’m using? I really hope so!

  • Can you guys please make like a mini version of this for like a photography/editing app!?!?!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.