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What is the Difference Between a Photoshop Action and Photoshop Overlay?

What is the difference between a Photoshop action and a Photoshop overlay?  Learn here plus get a free Photoshop action and free Photoshop overlay to use in your images!

Wonder what the difference is between a Photoshop action and Photoshop overlay? If you are new to Photoshop you’ve probably heard these two words before and at first they can be a little confusing to understand the difference. Let me break it down for you here so that you’ll know the difference between a Photoshop action and overlay.

What are Photoshop Actions?

Photoshop actions are a set of recorded steps in Photoshop to help you achieve as desired result. Either you or someone else records the steps so that you can play them again as an “action” at a later time.

Photoshop actions are “loaded” into the program so that you can use them in your actions panel. Not sure how to do this? Check out the tutorial: How to Load Photoshop Actions.

What types of things will actions do?

All kinds of things really! As previously mentioned, Photoshop actions will help you achieve a certain result. Actions may help with color toning, portrait retouching, creating black and white images, adding in sunsets, creative editing and so much more.

What is the Difference Between a Photoshop Action and Overlay?

How Do You Find Actions?

If you find yourself repeating the same set of steps over and over again, creating your own action will save you lots of time. Not sure how? Check out the tutorial on: How To Create Your Own Action

Maybe though, you just aren’t sure how to achieve the look you want and you don’t even know where to go inside of Photoshop to record those steps. That’s where purchasing others recorded actions come in really handy. Cozy Clicks has developed many Photoshop actions sets that have helped address some of the more common editing problems that are tricky to do on your own here. You can even test out a sample set of actions for free! (Just click here to grab your set)

If you do use actions, make sure you are aware of what the actions do before using them. All actions will create a different look in your photo, so make sure you are using the ones that will help you achieve your look!

What version of Photoshop do I Need to Use Actions?

That depends on the action itself. If you are using Photoshop Elements, you will not be able to record your own actions. Recording steps is only something you can do inside of Photoshop CS or Creative Cloud.

If you purchase or receive actions from somewhere else, make sure you read prior where the actions are compatible. While the majority of actions for sale will work if you are using Adobe’s most updated version of Photoshop CC, Elements users and users of older Photoshop versions may have more difficulty finding action packs that will be compatible as updates have changed over time.

What is the Difference Between a Photoshop Action and Overlay?

What are Photoshop Overlays?

Unlike actions, overlays do not “load” into Photoshop. They are usually either .jepg, .png or .psd files that are placed directly over your image.

What Types of Things Do Overlays Do?

You can find overlays for all kinds of things! Photoshop Overlays can be applied for color toning, adding bokeh, snow, leaves, textures…really, lots of stuff! Watch the Tutorial: How To Apply Leaf Overlays

How Do You Use Them?

Most Photoshop overlays are applied to your image by going to file>place> {and then finding the folder where the overlay is} You can go to edit>free transform to change the size or placement of your overlay. You can also use blending modes to help achieve even more looks with the overlay! Unsure about blending modes? Read the tutorial: How To Use Blending Modes in Photoshop.

What is the Difference Between a Photoshop Action and Overlay?
Original photo with Autumn toned overlay and leaf overlay applied

What version of Photoshop do I Need to Use Overlays?

Unlike actions, overlays can be used in a wider variety of Photoshop versions including Elements and older versions of Photoshop because they do not “load” into the program. However, it is still a good idea to read over the developers compatibility requirement before purchasing any actions.

Wanna try a Cozy Clicks freebie autumn toned overlay? You can right here!

So there you have it! The difference between Photoshop overlays and actions. Both will help you out tremendously with dediting, both in your creativity and saving you time! Play around with some of the Cozy Clicks Freebies in our resource pack today!

If you do use them, let me know! Post one over in the Cozy Clicks Facebook group for me to see or just tag me over on Instagram aso I can see what you’re creating!

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What is the difference between a Photoshop action and a Photoshop overlay?  Learn here plus get a free Photoshop action and free Photoshop overlay to use in your images!
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