Pure Photoshop Actions “Matte Action Set” Review

Mar 11, 2014

Topic: Tutorials
Time Investment: 5 Minutes
Suggested Product:  All-in-One Contract Bundles

Super stoked to take a detour off of the regular review for functional business products to do a review of an action set — but of course y’all know I put my own spin on it with efficiency and budget taken into account!

The Deets in Pure’s Words

“Almost two years ago we were approached to start creating Designer Actions and Presets.  We dove into the idea of collaborating with photographers we felt shared our passion for beautiful editing that seasoned images to their creator’s taste without going overboard.  We poured our heart and soul into helping these photographers craft actions that would be technically flawless and aesthetically lovely.  But, we ran out of time to create actions based on our own ever-evolving workflow!

Part of being busy photographers is that we find our workflow subtly changes through the years, to reflect our passions and our clients preferences and to reflects changing styles.

Rachel (Pure Rachel, not TheLawTog Rachel) has been including cleanly matted images into her workflow for a few years now, but that has not been reflected in our own Pure label offerings, because we have been so busy with our line-up of Designers who have been eager to create their sets!  So while Rachel had a little extra time available to her with a new baby keeping her awake at night, she began committing her edits to actions.  These are deeply personal actions, as she uses them often on her own images of her own children.  Sometimes it’s hard to get out and purposefully create ART with so many little kids and with the cold winter.  But Rachel began working and tweaking matte layers that kept the skin tones clean and clear, but that gave a more artistic finish to even shots around the house.

We are so excited to be back into the saddle with developing our own sets of actions based on what makes us really personally get excited and we hope you enjoy them too!”


The set includes the following 30 actions:

1.  Pretty Matte–This is the base of the set.  Rachel was drawn to this simple matte that added a layer of richness and artistry to her images.  Mattes work best with images where there are deep tones.

2.  Pretty Matte Defined–This adds onto the clean matte of the Pretty Matte.  It gives a bit of further contrast, which almost makes the subject stand out from the matted surroundings.  This has become Rachel’s favorite, especially indoors.

3.  Defined BW–Rachel’s current favorite black and white.  It is soft and matted, but still has some great snap.

4.  Pretty Matte Deep Pop–a deeper and richer matte.  It can affect skin tones more than the lighter ones, so you might have to mask from skin or run the Too Much Matted Orange action to pull back on the skin tones being matted.

5.  Pretty Matte Deep Pop BW–A very rich BW.

6. Pretty Matte with Warming–the lovely light matte, with a hint of warming.

7.  Pretty Matte BW–A light matted BW.

8.  Pretty Matte BW soft–a more heavily matted BW.

9.  Pretty Matte Rose–A lightly toned matte

10.  Pretty Matte Rose soft–a very lightly toned heavier matte.

11.  Pretty Matte Whites–Matte is interesting, as it relies so heavily on the tones of the image.  This helps matte more highlight centric images (which can resist matte), though it will make deeper images look more popped.

12.  Just Matte–a softer heavier matte.

13.  Soft Contrast BW–yes, a softer contrast BW.  

14.  Warmer Shadows–A gentle boost to just the shadows, getting rid of hard to reach blue tones in the shadows.

15.  Green Away–Get rid of green in the shadows from trees and plants.

16.  Simple Matte–a very basic matte that can be used alone on images more resistant to the matted look, or over other actions to deepen the matte.

17.  Matte and Haze Warm–this is a more universal matte look that can work indoors and out very easily.

18.  Paint Back Details–don’t let matte rob your image of key details.  Restore them with this action.  It is great to use on eyes and mouths too.

19.  Paint Back Details for PSCC and up only–This action is a powerhouse of detail enhancement, but it only works with Photoshop CC and up.  (Please note that every so often it can be strangely glitchy and make strange effects.  If it does that on your image, please revert to the universal Paint Back Details for that image.)

20.  Beyond Compare BW–A little grittier, dramatic BW.

21.  Too Much Matted Orange–sometimes matte can really distort skin tones.  It can grab those oranges and exaggerate them.  This will carefully reign those in, without making your subject look too sickly.

22.  Black and White Bomb–a more dramatic matted bw.

23.  Deep Color Palette–selectively boost colors after matting to draw attention to them.  I love to do this especially with flowers or details.

24.  Deep Color Pop–Use this before or after your matte for a stronger pop to the image.  It generally runs cleanly on skin, but you might have to mask a little if it affects skintone.

25.  Hazy Backlight–gently paint in a little backlight to an image.  Use a low opacity white brush to naturally add in a little haze.

26.  Simple Paint-On Blur–add a little softness at a low opacity to smooth out your image.

27.  The Big Dreamy Outdoor Workflow–This action really combines a lot of the actions into one to help you speed things up.  Some things can be optionally painted on or turned on or off to your taste.  (Watch the warming action, as it can make things too orange on some images.)

28.  Sunny Matte–This adds a little boost/matte to really bright images, which can be hard to matte.

29.  Overcast Matte–lift those nasty overcast light shadows and soothe the harsh highlights it can cause.  Adjust opacity to taste.

30.  Non-Destructive Dodge and Burn–Add a little drama with some selective darkening or brighten up areas that get a little too muddy.  Use a soft, low opacity white brush to paint the effects where needed on the black layer mask.

See more at: Pure Actions for Photographers

Please note that these actions DO NOT currently work in Elements.

See more at Pure Actions Shop


The Review

So when Pure came out with their newest Matte set I wanted a chance to test it out.  I already use alot of their clean editing actions in my normal workflow for batch processing and minor alterations.   I’m not one to get all artsy but the matte look has become a prominent trend (re-found way of processing? wonder which it’ll be!) but when I saw examples from this set it basically was giving a look oompf to the clean edit look.

I also personally have never ever found a black and white I like.  And I think I want to marry this one. If I could. And if it asn’t creepy.

So moving past style, I’m too practical to recommend a product that I don’t believe has a good financial value – yes I value the work action makesr put into their work but if you’ve taken 1:1 or course from me – then you KNOW I’m all about costs of business.  This is a key aspect when I’m reviewing a product and determining if I would recommend it’s purchase.  I found the aesthetic reasons above + the fact that the set comes with 30 total actions made it well worth the investment.  The set is approximately $60 – I say approximately because I see them run promos on their site and so you may be able to snag it for less. Even if you do purchase at full price you’re paying about $2 an action that has 15+ steps each (I quit counting at 15) that would take you how much time to go through each?


I’m all about time is money.  I have 4 kids and need to be quick at anything I do.

So taking the aesthetic oompf the action sets give + financial investment + efficiency = I’m sold!

Of course my reviews are objective so I am going to identify a few things I would fix or like to see on an action set like this for the future.   A drawback in my recommendation of this product is that the actions are not yet readily available for Lightroom or Elements.  I know alot of y’all may not be in full Photoshop – if you’re interested in it for these platforms comment below and I’ll be sure to show the Pure Girls!

Note: Pure Photoshop Actions has not sponsored this post or paid me for this review – they did provide a tester action set for me to try out since I use many of their clean edit actions in processing my own photographs.


The Pictures

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Pretty Matte Deep Pop


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Pretty Matte BW
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Pretty Matte

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Pure Photoshop Actions "Matte Action Set" Review

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