Few Tricks to Get Your Dirty Work Done: Photoshop Variables

Even If you are not into design I bet you have already heard the tales about Data-Driven graphics; working with the data sets pulled from various files which can easily be turned into multiple version of images you desire, all done by Photoshop itself. Good news, rumours are true and it works like a charm as a time-saver, I’ll show you step by step how to set it up.

First you need to create the image which you would like to use as the base template

Just make your design as usual ways you used to but there are few concerns to get the data sets works correctly. Besides there is no limitation of the number of data sets bounded to the layers but it’s always a good idea to keep the layer names short and avoid speacial characterization.

Check the image below, there is an imaginary invitation made by me having two variable in it which is not defined as a variable yet. They basicly doesn’t know that they are actually part of a master plan :)

Event name and attendee names are our variables

This powerful tool gives us much of an opportunity to have names, badges, color schemes and images as variables. For this example we will just keep it simple and use two variables takes advantage of text replacement method.

which leads us:

Defining the variables in the image

Image > Variables > Define

A fairly easy step. It is all about identifying which parts of the image that change and how is gonna change. Just select the layers you want as a variable and define their type. There are actually three types of variable you can asign to a layer:

Visibilty: As the word implies whether you decide to show the content of layer or hide.

Pixel Replacement to replace the pixel component of layer with another one. This could be a picture, symbol or even whole pattern.

and Text Replacement as the most used method to replace text areas with the desired text.

Do not forget to name your layers

After naming your layers as exactly like we do in the data set; all you should do is select the ‘text replacement’ for the selected layer and repeat the action for the other variable(s) and hit OK

Making the Data Set in Excel

Guessed it right we need some data to start with. Just simply open an excel sheet and spare two columns for each variables that all we got in hand so far.

When referring to variables use the exact same names and avoid non-alphabetical characters. After you are done with the list, save it as a Tab Delimited Text.

That will be one ‘hell’ of an event

Importing the Data Set

Follow the previous steps get to the data sets panel in the variables section and hit import to connect the data we have just created on excel.

If you are getting “could not parse the data” kinda errors double check the names as well as the extention of the data file. When you get it right you will end up seeing the dataset info on panel including names of atendees and event names. (Yes I did NOTICE I mispelled ‘atendee’ I’m too lazy to fix it show some respect lol)

Go on grammer nazis, I deserved it

Export Data Sets as Files

Once you are done with the steps so far and set the data without getting any error messages popping up on your screen telling how clumsy you are; now we will turn each Data Set into its own PSD or any other files as you desire.

File / Export / Data Sets as Files..

Naming your output

Name your output and select a folder to contain them if you don’t want to find yourself in a shitstorm of psd files on desktop.

Depending on how many files you got, you might need a little help from another friend called “Batch”

File / Automate / Batch

You can create a master rule under actions then run a batch process that applies that action to each file such as applying a filter or just resizing and turn them into jpgs without a sweat.

I hope you liked my debut post I’ll keep them coming for you lazy buds, keep tuned:)

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