Understanding the Difference Between Photoshop Actions and Overlays


Hello, we’re so glad you’re here! If you’ve found this page there’s a chance that you, like many others, may be frustrated or just simply curious about how to use Overlays in Photoshop. I know it can be a tiny bit confusing because it's pretty well known that in Lightroom you apply Presets to enhance an image and in Photoshop you apply Actions to enhance an image…so it is sometimes, and understandably so, assumed that Overlays are actions as well. While we do have Actions that will help you apply an Overlay, an Overlay is still just that–an Overlay.

Overlays, by their very definition are meant to be taken and applied on top of something. So essentially when using one, you are taking an image file and applying it on top of your original image to create an effect. Pretty Actions has lots of gorgeous and fun overlay collections for you to play with and enhance your images, like our Bubble Overlays, Blossom Flower Overlays, Sky Overlays, Fog & Rain Overlays and even a super cool Fairyland Collection which includes fairy wing overlays, fairy dust brushes and tons more.  All of these are comprised of .jpeg or .png image files that blend seamlessly with your images to create beautiful additions like adding whimsical bubbles to your image or pretty flowers and even adding in a beautiful sky over a sky that appears "blown out” or white, in an image. I know, we’re pretty excited about it too. Bring on the fun!

So now that we know a little bit about what an Overlay is and a little bit about how they should be applied, (and a lot about how cool they are, am I right!?) Let’s go through step by step of how you can apply an Overlay in Photoshop using one of our collections. In this example we will be using the Pretty Actions Bubbles collection but keep in mind the process will be the same for any of our collections. Once you have gone through the steps you are going to be super excited about how easy it really is to apply an Overlay.  Really it’s a matter of knowing that an Overlay isn’t actually an action.  Once you have that down you’ve won 90% of the battle! What exciting news! Get ready to be an Overlay expert.

Step 1.
Open the image you wish to edit while in Photoshop. Locate the top Menu bar and go to File>Open

Understanding the Difference Between Photoshop Actions and Overlays

Step 2.
Run the Applicator Action (check to make sure your collection came with one, if not, simply navigate to your menu bar and go to File>Place Linked or File>Place and continue on to step three.

Understanding the Difference Between Photoshop Actions and Overlays

Step 3.
Navigate to where you have your collection saved on your computer. If you haven’t saved your collection anywhere you can find it in your recent downloads by going to your Finder (Mac) or Menu bar (PC) and selecting Recent Downloads. Scroll down until you find your collection, click on the folder and choose an Overlay you would like to use.

Understanding the Difference Between Photoshop Actions and Overlays

Step 4.
Once you have found your desired Overlay simply click on it and select “Open” or "Place". Voila! Watch as your overlay is automatically applied to your image.

Step 5. (optional)
If you wish to change the size of your Overlay or move it you can do so now (select the move tool in the tools Panel) and press Enter when you are done.

Step 6. (not mandatory but highly suggested)
Sit back and enjoy your pretty photo!

We hope these step by step instructions have been helpful with shedding a little light on the difference between Actions and Overlays and how to apply an Overlay. In case you're more of a visual learner we have included a video on how to apply a bubble overlay.

Again, the steps are applicable to any of the Overlay collections we offer. To take a look at any of our Overlay collections please visit us here, we would love to see you there. Enjoy and have fun editing with your Overlays!

P.S - We would love to see you on Facebook, join our group here!

Pretty Photoshop Actions Bubble Overlay Tutorial