Easy-to-follow video tutorials help you learn software, creative, and business skills.Become a member
You may have seen that there is in the Photo > Edit In menu in Lightroom, a command to Open as Smart Object in Photoshop. Let's take a look at what that does and give you an idea for how you might use it. Here is a photo I took on the subway in Paris and it was very bumpy, so it's pretty blurry, but I really like the red shoes and the red collar, so I'd like to emphasize those. So I am going to start out with this raw image by converting it to black and white in Lightroom. Over in the Basic panel I'll click black and white and then I'll adjust some of the sliders to get it looking the way that I want it to be.
As usual, there is nothing special about the adjustments that I am making, just what feels right at the moment. And I'll come down to the HSL/Color/Black & White panel, and here I can change the way that particular colors translate to black and white. I'll click on the targeted adjustment tool in this panel, and I'll come into the collar and I'll click and drag up on the collar to lighten it. You can see the red slider is moving. And maybe a little bit on the girl's shoe as well, in the dark area. So let's say that's all that I want to do here in Lightroom.
Now I would like to take it over to Photoshop as a Smart Object. I'll go to the Photo menu, I'll choose Edit In, and Open as Smart Object in Photoshop. You might think of a smart object as kind of a wrapper for the actual file, and because the actual image is embedded in this wrapper, there are things that you can do to it that you couldn't do to a normal pixel-based image in Photoshop. So you can see the new image open in Photoshop with the black and white adjustments from Lightroom, and there is a small icon on the thumbnail in the Layers panel that indicates that this is a smart object layer.
One of the advantages of smart object layers is that you can change the size of a layer without disturbing the photo quality. So if I press Cmd+T, or Ctrl+T on the PC, for Free Transform, hold the Shift key to constrain the proportions, and drag this to make it a really small photo, and then click the check mark to commit that change, I could change my mind about that and make it large again and it would still look great. And that wouldn't be the case if this were just a regular pixel-based layer. So again, Cmd+T, Ctrl+T on the PC, and I'll drag up, and then click the check mark.
And everything is fine. But the main point of this movie is to show you how smart objects behave when you bring them over from Lightroom into Photoshop. Watch what happens if I double-click the thumbnail on this Smart Object Layer. It opens in Camera Raw, it doesn't go back to Lightroom as you might expect. Well, you remember from earlier movies that Camera Raw and Lightroom share the same RAW processing features, and so if you take a look over in the Basic panel, you will see all the same sliders that we saw in Lightroom, and so you could adjust the photo here without having to go all the way back to Lightroom to adjust it there.
So let's say that I really want the black and white to have more Exposure, I want to bring down the Highlights a little more, and I want to up the Clarity. I'll click OK and those changes are made to the Smart Object right here in Photoshop. So that's a bit of a timesaver. Now here is a special little technique that you can use that quality for. I am going to make a copy of this Smart Object layer. Now if I just right-clicked and shows Duplicate Layer, then I would get a copy of the layer that is linked to this one, so that anything I did to one of the smart object layers, the same thing would happen to the other, and that isn't what I want.
I want to have two layers that are not linked in that way. So instead of Duplicate Layer I am going to choose New Smart Object via Copy. And that will give me a new, unlinked smart object layer right here. Now I am going to double-click the thumbnail on that smart object layer and again, Camera Raw opens. This Smart Object Layer I'm going to process differently than the black and white version on the other Smart Object Layer. I am going to go to the HSL Grayscale panel where we can see the same Grayscale Mix sliders that we saw in Lightroom, and I am going to uncheck Convert to Grayscale. And that brings back the color in the image, all of which is still there.
I'll click OK and that closes Camera Raw and takes me back into Photoshop. Now I have, on the top Smart Object Layer the color image, on the bottom one, the black and white. Well, why did I do that? So that I can mix the two. I am going to do that by adding a Layer Mask to the color Smart Object Layer. With that layer selected I'll go to the Add Layer Mask icon at the bottom of the layer's panel. That adds a white layer mask, which is allowing the color layer to show through. Now I am going to fill that white layer mask with black. Since my foreground color in the toolbox is black, I'll just press Option+Delete on the Mac or Alt+Backspace on the PC to do that, and because the entire layer mask is filled with black, it is now hiding the contents of the Color Layer from view.
And now I am going to take the Quick Selection tool, I am going to select the dog's collar and the girl's shoes, by just clicking and dragging over each. And with that black layer mask still selected, I am going to fill just those areas with white on the layer mask. The shortcut for filling with the background color which happens to be white, on the Mac is Cmd+Delete, on the PC, Ctrl+Delete. So I'll do that to fill the layer mask in those areas with white, and where the layer mask is white, the contents of this color layer can show through.
Where the layer mask is black, the color layer is hidden, so we see down through to the black and white layer below. To eliminate the marching ants from the selection, I'll press Cmd+D on the Mac or Ctrl+D on the PC. And there is a composite that I have made from two Smart Object Layers. The first brought over from Lightroom. The second created here in Photoshop. Now you don't have to use this technique for just mixing color and black and white. It would also work if you process the two separate layers differently in some other way, maybe one high contrast and one low contrast, and then mix elements from the two.
So now I am going to take this composite that I have just made and tell Lightroom about it by saving it. Cmd+S on the Mac, Ctrl+S on the PC. The resulting image is a TIFF, because that's how my External Editing Preferences are set in Lightroom. I will close it from Photoshop and go back to Lightroom, and here you can see my original with the Lightroom adjustments, and that is an editable adjustment, a nondestructive adjustment, so I could always just reset it, if I don't want the original to be black and white. And next to it is the composite that I made from the two Smart Object Layers in Photoshop.
Get unlimited access to all courses for just $25/month.Become a member
164 Video lessons · 49325 Viewers
64 Video lessons · 84532 Viewers
86 Video lessons · 54389 Viewers
148 Video lessons · 91437 Viewers
Access exercise files from a button right under the course name.
Search within course videos and transcripts, and jump right to the results.
Remove icons showing you already watched videos if you want to start over.
Make the video wide, narrow, full-screen, or pop the player out of the page into its own window.
Click on text in the transcript to jump to that spot in the video. As the video plays, the relevant spot in the transcript will be highlighted.
Your file was successfully uploaded.