After much tinkering and tweaking and fiddling and fussing, I think I'm finally happy with my Photoshop colour actions; happy enough to start using them on my own projects, and happy enough to share them at last. :)
And here they be:
Because I'm probably a bit of a silly so-and-so, the idea behind these was to create a whole range of colour actions that matched as faithfully as possible the colours of real-world stuff. And so, for each of these actions, the colours were sampled from images of the actual thing after which they are named. (Yes, I did do a Google search for images of custard; oh and Adonis is named after the adonis blue butterfly, probably one of the most beautiful things in nature.) OK, I cheated slightly on Powder...
Herb Garden and Verdigris were sort-of requested by mocha, and Green Olive and Meadow were sort-of requested by trapping (I hope they fit the bill, guys). By the way, I'm afraid I'm not going to apologize for the number of purple-blues and blue-greens, because those are my favourite colours. Also, some of the colours (Dawn, Dusk, Kingfisher, Mango, Moonstone, Steel and Verdigris) have been designed so that the shadows are a slightly different hue to the highlights; I appreciate that this may not be to everyone's taste, and might look a bit odd on some textures, but I like the effect. :)
Anyway, onto more previews. So you can see what the results might be when they are used on actual textures, here are a couple of swatches, one using a bedding texture and the other a clothing texture:
And now - possibly what you have been waiting for - the download:
I'm really looking forward to seeing what other people might do with these! I already have some half-finished projects using them (more bedding, Holy Simoly's curtains, Maxis Satinistics loveseat, Bruno underwear, wood floors...), which hopefully I will get around to posting soon.
NOTES FOR USERS (please do read)
Now that you've downloaded them, there are just a few things that I need to point out.
These should work with any version of Photoshop. However, with PS7, unfortunately you may notice some graphical distortion. I'm afraid this is due to a bug in the way that this particular version of Photoshop handles the Multiply blend mode, and there is nothing I can do about this. The best I can suggest is that you step back in the History and 'unflatten' the texture, then experiment with changing the opacity of any layers that use the Multiply blend mode.
The colour actions are designed to be used on white or very light grey base textures. Obviously, the darker your starting texture, the less consistent your results will be with the 'true' colours shown in the preview.
Also, the GIGO principle applies: if you start off with a poor-quality base texture (with lots of pixelation, for example), then your results will reflect this and the actions will quite likely amplify any pre-existing flaws, although I've done my very best to minimize this possibility.
In addtion to the 42 colour actions, there are also three 'utility' actions. As far as I could, I optimized each colour action for use on as wide a range of base textures as possible. However, I found it virtually impossible to adjust them individually to suit every type of base texture, particularly those that have very high or very low contrast. So, I created the utility actions, as a more flexible way of customizing the effect for any given base texture.
The first such action, 'Lighten Base Texture', is to be used on your base texture before you apply the colour actions. This is designed to work on a base texture of around 50% grey, to lighten it up a bit, so that the results are more true to the intended colour. I would think that is the one most likely to distort your texture, so use with discretion.
Then, there are two actions to be applied directly after the colour action: an 'Increase Contrast' action and a 'Darken Shadows' action. These must be used immediately after applying a colour action; they will not work if you save and reopen your flattened, coloured texture.
'Increase Contrast' both brightens the highlights and deepens the shadows (you might find this useful if you try the colour actions out on hair textures, for example, to lift the highlights a bit), while 'Darken Shadows' just deepens shadows (possibly most useful on object and clothing textures).
All three utility actions work by adding an extra layer over the top of your texture, so nothing is actually changed, and you can just delete the extra layer if you decide you don't like the effect. You can customize the effect by changing the opacity of the added layer to suit your given texture (and I would strongly recommend that you do). Once you are happy with the results, just flatten, save and use! If you're a bit new to working with layers, the following shows where to adjust the opacity of the layer (just select the layer and change the % in the box):
The utility actions are a bit experimental, so I can't guarantee the results. In my testing, these worked pretty well, but feel free to use them or not, as you see fit.
If you use the colours, especially the darker shades, on clothing textures, I would seriously recommend that you don't rely on Bodyshop to import the textures; Bodyshop has a very nasty habit of crunching dark textures. The best method is to download and install the DDS plug-in for Photoshop (which you can download for free here), save your texture as a DDS file, then import into your package (created via Bodyshop) using SimPE. Instructions on how to do this are given in this post at GoS by Javiera. The next best thing is to save your texture as a transparent PNG, and import in SimPE using the Build DXT option.
If you run into any problems at all, then please do let me know, either by commenting here or by PM.
Finally, these colours are not sacred in any way. Feel free to pull them apart and remake them to suit your own tastes, delete any that you don't want to use, combine colours to create new shades, whatever you like. All I ask is that if you share any content made using an edited version of the colours, then please make it clear to your potential downloaders that you haven't used the 'definitive' colours shown in the preview above.
Pooklet and Aelia, whose colour actions I mercilessly pulled apart, to find out how they worked.
My incredible testers, columnar, lillany, aelia, sims_by_izza, juri_anne, hat_plays_sims, pixelcat45, comet_dancer, kyra_master701, sil30stm and tea_leaf. Seriously, we have a lot to thank them for. ;)