Combining Actions in Photoshop Elements {Tutorial}

Hey friends — I’m here today with more fun things I have learned about Photoshop! Again, I am not an expert — just a girl excited about my new toy and wanting to share what I have learned! 🙂

I have been downloading SO many free actions from really amazing websites. First of all — it is SO nice of these different blogs and resources to provide these free actions! Photoshop Elements would be a whole lot more challenging to learn without having these incredible resources — so thank you!

One thing that I have been frustrated with is getting the “look” that I have been wanting for certain photos that I am editing. Although all of the actions I am downloading are great… one action never quite does everything I am trying to accomplish.


So, I started combining actions in order to get a specific effect on my photos. Today, I am going to share an action combination that I used to edit a photo of my {gorgeous} sister at homecoming. Without combining all of the different actions, the look I got would have been much harder to accomplish.

In this process, I have learned that every photo is different and will be affected different ways when actions are applied. SO — for the purpose of this tutorial, I am going to give you ALL of the specific settings I did for this photo. Then, at the end, I will show you how these exact same settings made other photos {with different lighting and settings} look compared to the first. That way, you can see how this action combo affects different types of photos.

One thing to remember — you do NOT have to use the same photo settings as I did. I suggest to try out my settings on your photo… and then adjust them to get the look you’re wanting.

Here is the overview of the combo that I used:

Here is a visual overview of the combo that I used:


Now I’m going to take you step-by-step through each action set that I used. Again, feel free to play with the settings to get the exact look you’re wanting.


Okay, so you have your original photo. The first thing I did was take my healing tool and fixed any blemishes that were on the photo. I typically try to stay away from freckles and other natural “spots” on the skin — I only go for removing the blemishes that are not necessarily “wanted” on the skin. My sister is beyond gorgeous and has perfect skin — so this step was quick and I hardly had to change anything.


After you finish up with your healing tool, then you’re going to want to run the Eye Brightening Action from The CoffeeShop Blog. Some of you who are familiar with Photoshop may be wondering why in the WORLD I run both the Eye Brightening Action AND the Perfect Portrait 3 Action — since the eye brightening stuff is built into the portrait action. However, I run them separate because it helps me really focus on the eyes and not get lost in all of the settings in the Perfect Portrait 3 Action.

Whether you choose to run both actions is completely up to you — because you can do all of the eye enhancing business on Perfect Portrait 3.

Aside from the tutorial on The CoffeeShop Blog for how to use this Action — here are the settings that I use to make my sister’s eyes exactly how I want them:

  • Eye Define –> 100% Opacity
  • Bright Eyes –> 50% Opacity
  • White Whites –> 80% Opacity {Make sure you whiten the teeth in this section, too!}

I have learned that when you’re using this action, you really have to play with the “Bright Eyes” opacity setting. For example, my sister and I both have blue eyes. However — her eyes are a deeper blue and mine are a lighter blue. When I use the exact same settings on the Bright Eye opacity for both of us… my eyes look like alien blue eyes. SO — just play around with it. One size does not fit all. 🙂


After you run this action, you are going to want to flatten your image. You can do this by going to Layer –> Flatten Image.

Next, run the Perfect Portrait 3 Action. Remember to read all about how to edit and manipulate each portion of this action on The CoffeeShop Blog. My tutorial is not HOW to use this action — because I did not create the action — it is simply the settings that I used to get a certain look when combining different actions.

There were a few portions of this action that I wanted to keep, and others that I wanted to turn off. Here are the settings that I used on my sister’s photo:

  • B & W –> KEEP OFF
  • Vignette –> KEEP OFF
  • Dodge/Burn –> 100% {I did not do any editing on the layer mask for this one, so I just kept it at 100% opacity}
  • Soft Glow –> 50%
  • Smooth Skin –> 50%
  • Bright Eyes –> TURN OFF
  • Eye Define –> TURN OFF
  • White Whites –> TURN OFF
  • Urban Grit –> TURN OFF {I LOVE using the Urban Grit feature on the Perfect Portrait 3 — however, for this photo I wanted everything super soft. So, I turned it off. But feel free to play around with it — it leaves some really neat effects!}
  • White Teeth –> TURN OFF
  • Brighten –> 50%
  • Sharpen –> TURN ON –> 100%
  • Boost –> 15%
  • Vivid Color –> 100%
  • Remove Red –> 100%


I love the lighting affects that the Perfect Portrait 3 gives this photo — it’s exactly what I was looking for!

Next, flatten the image. Run the Lustrous Pop Action from The CoffeeShop Blog.

When the first Brightness/Contrast window popped up, I used this setting:

  • Brightness: 29
  • Contrast: -24

When the second Brightness/Contrast window popped up, I used this setting:

  • Brightness: -10
  • Contrast: 30

When the Unsharp Mask window popped up, I used this setting:

  • Amount: 200%
  • Radius: 3.0 pixels
  • Threshold: 0

Here are the additional settings that I used for this action:

  • Color Pop: 50%
  • Sharpen: 50%


I could have easily left this picture after this setting — because I love how it turned out. However — I wanted to add a couple more elements to this picture. So, I flattened the image and ran the Dandelion Wine Action from The CoffeeShop Blog.

When the Gaussian Blur window popped up the first time, I put the radius to 3.0 pixels. The second time it popped up I put the radius to 0.1 pixels.

Here are the remaining settings I used for the Dandelion Wine Action:

  • Matte –> TURN ON –> 100%
  • Light/Dark –> 100%
  • Color Tint –> 20%
  • Color Pop –> 70%
  • Contrast Pop –> 20%
  • Color Bright –> 30%


Isn’t that gorgeous? I flattened the image after this.

Because I wanted there to be a few spots that were darkened just a tad, I ran the Touch of Light/Touch of Darkness Action that I downloaded for free from MCP Actions. I used a low opacity brush to manipulate both the light and dark to create the look I wanted.


Here is the final photo. I flattened it and saved it as a JPEG image.

I decided to try this EXACT SAME combo on a few other photos of mine. I wanted to share them here so that y’all could see how different lighting affects this action combination differently. I haven’t found a photo that the combo didn’t end up looking great on — each photo just looked a bit different than the original one.


This is me with REALLY dark hair. I used all of the exact same settings from this combining tutorial.


This is my sweet and adorable baby brother — all of the same settings were used to edit this photo of him as well.

Did you try this combo? Let me know what you think! I’m still learning — so your thoughts and experiences will help me become better and more proficient in Photoshop Elements! Thanks y’all!


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