Wednesday, October 27

CoffeeShop Group It Action!

Clipping masks are really confusing. They are simply cutouts in storyboards, but you have to group your image to them. Like layer masks, they are a wonderful editing tool, but they are difficult to understand unless you read a really good tutorial or book or have someone show you how to use them. I have two tutorials (tutorial 1, tutorial 2) already posted on my blog, but I still get so many questions.

So I finally decided to make this easy on you.  I wrote this really simple actionthat will prompt you to open your image, automatically group it with the clipping mask, and allow you to free-transform it to fit.  This is the perfect action if you can't figure out clipping masks and/or you want to save time loading your images.  If you can use actions then you can easily use clipping masks!!!  I know the screenshots make it sound involved, but this is a very simple action. 

Some people have problems running my storyboard building actions in their PSE programs (I think some Mac users?), so perhaps they will be able to use this action to load images on my storyboard templates.

I have posted an updated tutorial using this action with a beautiful new storyboard on this post!  

How to use the CoffeeShop Group It action:

1.  Open your storyboard template with clipping mask(s).  The one I used in this tutorial is here.  You can find all of my storyboards here.  Some have actions (scroll down to the bottom to find those links), but all of my storyboards should contain a .psd file, even the ones with actions.  This action should work on any layered storyboard template with clipping masks, even ones you make!

Make sure you are opening a layered .psd storyboard file.  Make sure this is the only thing open in your editing program.  

2.  Click on the clipping mask you wish to add the image to in the layer pane or in the storyboard.  I usually label my clipping masks, but in this case I just labeled it by where it is located.  Just look for a black box or shape if the clipping mask is not labeled.  I am going to load an image to the left cutout.

3.  Click to start the action.  You will be prompted to open your first image.  Select it and click OK.  The image will open, and be selected, copied,  and pasted on your storyboard and grouped with the clipping mask you had selected (see below).

The action will prompt you to free-transform the image to fit.  If you can't see the bars, then click Ctrl-0 (that is a zero) and your image will zoom out.  You can click Ctrl-0 again at anytime to zoom back in.

4.  Make sure if you are using Photoshop that the little chain between W and H on the top menubar is clicked on before dragging.  Otherwise your image will get distorted.  This action should automatically select it so you should not have to hold shift.

If you are using PSE don't hold shift and make sure Constrain Proportions is checked on the top menubar before dragging or your image will get distorted.

5.  Once your image is adjusted to taste (you can adjust the placement by dragging it) click on the checkmark on the top menubar (Photoshop) or on the image (PSE) to accept the changes and your image will be perfected placed!  The image you just opened and copied to paste on your storyboard will be closed.

Now you can add another image to another cutout (clipping mask).  Click on the next clipping mask in the layer pane (top right in this case) and start the action once again.

Easy, right? 

You can download the free CoffeeShop Group It Photoshop and PSE action HERE.

Want all of my favorite CoffeeShop Actions or Design Elements in one simple download AND help support this blog? Just click here for my action pack or here for a download of some of my most popular design elements, storyboards, and textures. For complete info on installing all of my actions, click here.


  1. hi rita...
    i recently loaded some actions...successfully i must add. the diffuse glow filter will not work in pse. it says it is currently not available.
    do you have an insight into this?
    sure would appreciate your insight.

  2. Thank you for your freebies. Link on your post was added to PickleMouse freebie list

  3. Thank you for this very helpful action

  4. Rita, thanks so much for all your work. I am having trouble with the last story board action running in PSE. And yes, I do have a Mac. :)
    So I was pleased to see this! I uploaded my quick project to Flickr.

  5. Rita...THANK YOU!! I'm one of the ones having Mac storyboard problems...and this works beautifully!! Thanks so much for creating this for us :)

  6. awesome! I am a total newbie and this make clipping masks so much easier. Thank you so much for generously sharing your talents! It's MUCH appreciated :)

  7. Kiss, kiss, Rita!! I just discovered this group it action and I could just reach out through the web and hug you! You have made my life so much easier now. Please know that what you are doing is so greatly appreciated. I have learned so very much from you. It's like having my own tutor. You have the patience to take me through things step by step and really teach! Bless you. Peggy from Pennsylvania

  8. Wow-I just downloaded the action and immediately tried it out and it was so easy! Thank you so much Rita.

  9. Are these compatible with PS CS4? I have been trying everything to get them to work and can't figure it out. I really don't know PS very well, though; I'm better with LR...

  10. I'm so excited to have found your blog!!! I'm a photographer (although not working now...) and a homeschool mom as well!! I downloaded the group it action, but when I go to use it, it prompts me to put the first picture in, and transform it, and then it stops. It does not give me an option to fill in the rest of the images in the web board. Any suggestions??

  11. Lindsey, you need to use the action for each image. That way it works for any type of storyboard!

  12. I absolutely love you site, as well as the freebies you make available. I am still fairly new to using PS and your site has helped me do this. One question though... I'm using PS7 and whenever I try to use the Group It action, it opens my photo then gives me the message "the command 'Group' is not currently available". Any reason this may be happening? It's making it tougher to use the templates you have available. :(

  13. Hi, I have the layer highlighted but I cant add a photo to the story board. I'm using CS5 and a pc and it just wont work for me. I don't understand what im doing wrong.. Help

  14. Thanks sooo much it saves me some time, because I use story boards all the time.

  15. Wow...thank you SO much for this!

  16. Wow! I am such a big fan of yours! I will definitely put you up to my hi-addiction page.

    Thank you for sharing beautiful stuffs.

    Hugs x

  17. I can not tell you how amazing this is. Thank you soooo much for this action. It works like a charm. :)

  18. I think I might love you! THANK YOU!

  19. Any tips for running on a Mac with cs4? f12 opens my app window...

  20. Unfortunately I can't help if the shortcut button is already programmed for something else on your computer. If you have CS you can change the action's shortcut yourself!

  21. I have Pse 10 and im not sure how to use this action. I downloaded it but i dont know where im suppose to save it. I could really use step by step instructions...i am a beginner and still learning.

  22. Can someone help me please!! I am subscribed to the creative cloud with LR and PS. I am trying to use this action and it says "The command “Copy” is not currently available." and it also says this for the "Paste" option as well. How can i get this to work?

  23. I downloaded a lot of the storyboards and the group it action but can't get it to work with some of them. The images I choose aren't visible in the frames... :-(

    1. It could be several things. Are your images small and just lost under something else? Did you Ctrl-0 (zero) to zoom to fit?


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