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Photoshop Top 40
Illustration by John Hersey

18. Smart Objects


From:

Photoshop Top 40

with Deke McClelland

Video: 18. Smart Objects

(Music playing) Deke's Photoshop? Deke's Photoshop? Top 40! Feature #18 is Smart Objects and Smart Objects is a huge topic. And I'm going to be hammering more information than you can reasonably take in inside of this video. I'm just warning you of that up front, because I have an entire series about Smart Objects at lynda.com that you can check out if you have a mind to. But the whole notion behind Smart Objects is that they act as protective containers for your images, so that you can apply things like nondestructive transformations, and nondestructive Smart Filters and all kinds of nondestructive stuff.

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Photoshop Top 40
7h 13m Intermediate Dec 21, 2009

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

There's nothing people love more than lists, and Photoshop Top 40 offers a great one, highlighting the best features in Photoshop. Deke McClelland counts down to #1 with a new video each week, detailing one great feature after another in this popular digital imaging application. The videos cover tools, commands, and concepts, emphasizing what's really important in Photoshop.

This is an ongoing course that will be updated monthly.

For the newest updates please go to our blog entry for Deke's Photoshop Top 40.

Topics include:
  • Assembling multiple pieces of artwork with layer comps
  • Creating a black-and-white image from a color photograph
  • Merging multiple channels to create an alpha channel with calculations
  • Selecting images with the Pen tool
  • Masking images using the Brush tool
Subjects:
Design Photography
Software:
Photoshop
Author:
Deke McClelland

18. Smart Objects

(Music playing) Deke's Photoshop? Deke's Photoshop? Top 40! Feature #18 is Smart Objects and Smart Objects is a huge topic. And I'm going to be hammering more information than you can reasonably take in inside of this video. I'm just warning you of that up front, because I have an entire series about Smart Objects at lynda.com that you can check out if you have a mind to. But the whole notion behind Smart Objects is that they act as protective containers for your images, so that you can apply things like nondestructive transformations, and nondestructive Smart Filters and all kinds of nondestructive stuff.

The pixels are always protected inside of the Smart Object. So I'm working on this ad composition let's say and I've got a couple of copies. They're actually the exact same graphic repeated a couple of times here, and they hail from Illustrator. So Massive logo and Product logo, we'll come back to them. They are placed Illustrator graphics. In the Background, we've got this clouds image that comes to us from a photographer who goes by the name Luis. Let's say I want to go ahead and import an image into this composition. I'll go up to the File menu, and I'll choose the Place command.

Any time you choose Place inside a Photoshop, you're going to generate a Smart Object. So I will go ahead and choose Place, and then I'm going to locate this file, happens to be called Camera raw coif.dng. It's a Digital Negative file that will open inside of Camera Raw, comes to us from Valua Vitaly, once again of Fotolia. I'll click the Place button and I get the big Camera Raw dialog box. Here, I don't want to make any changes, not now. I'll come back to it in a moment, because one of the great things about Smart Objects is that you can revisit your Camera Raw settings anytime you like.

So I'll click OK in order to accept that graphic and it lands here inside of my composition. Now, I'm going to make my graphic much smaller. I haven't officially placed it yet. So I have this bounding box around it. And I'm going to go ahead and Shift+Drag one of the corner handles to make it really super-ridiculously dinky, let's say. This just tiny little itty-bitty graphic right there. And then I'll press the Enter key in order to accept that placed image, and you can see that it's very tiny. I'll go ahead and zoom in the graphic to the 100% view size.

This is as big as it is now. And you can see that Photoshop has also gone ahead and automatically named my layer Camera raw coif, and it's a Smart Object as indicated by this tiny page icon in the lower right corner of the thumbnail. All right, so obviously that's the wrong size for this graphic. But the beauty of working with the Smart Object is that you've actually embedded the image into your larger composition, so the original image remains intact. You can always re-reference that image. So if I want to enlarge the graphic at this point I can, not from the pixels we see right here but from the original pixels.

And let me show you what I mean by that. I'll go ahead and zoom out to the 50% zoom ratio once again. I'll go up to the Edit menu and I will choose feature #40 Free Transform in order to enter the Free Transform mode right there, and I'm going to shift drag a corner handle in order to make the graphic bigger, and you can see that I'm enlarging the image but I'm not stretching the pixels, I'm referencing the original placed image inside of this graphic. Now it also appears in the Options bar that I am seeing that the graphic is 31%, so it's still reduced vis -?-vis its original size.

It's only 31% of the original size of that graphic. I'm going to turn on the Link Icon here so that the Width and Height values are linked together, and I'm going to change that Height value to 57%. That'll automatically change the Width value as well. Press the Enter key a couple of times here on a PC, the Return key a couple of times on the Mac, and then I'm going to go ahead and move this image into place using the Move tool like so, so that it snaps right there. Now then, I want her to look at home against her new background. And the whole idea here is that even though we're working with a protected graphic, so that I can't actually access the original pixels.

If I go over here to something like the Brush tool and move over the graphic, you can see then I get this Ghostbusters Icon that's telling me nope you cannot paint inside of this image because the pixels are protected by the Smart Object. All right, though I can apply many of Photoshop's other nondestructive modifications. For example, I could go ahead and apply a blend mode to this image. I'll go up to the Blend Mode pop up menu here in the Layers palette, and I'll change the blend mode from Normal to Multiply in order to burn her into the background. Great! Now, I'm going to make a copy of this image in order to restore the highlights.

I will press Ctrl+Alt+J or Command+Option+J on the Mac in order to bring up the New Layer dialog box and jump this image, J for jump. And I'll go ahead and call this Normal or something along those lines. Click OK. And then I'm going to change the blend mode back to Normal, which may seem like so far we haven't got anything done. But now I'm going to turn around and mask this image. I've created a mask in advance. So I'll go to the Channels palette and I'll drop down here to this Mask alpha Channel, and I'll press the Ctrl key or the Command key on the Mac, and click on that thumbnail in order to convert that channel to a selection outline.

And I'm going to go back to the Layers palette. As I was saying, if you don't know that much about Photoshop, I'm going to be throwing too much information at you. I'm well aware of that. I just want you to get a sense of the myriad benefits of Smart Objects inside a Photoshop. So now I have the Normal layer active with my selection outline intact here. I'm going to drop down to this little Add Layer Mask icon and I'm going to click on it and she's now masked into place. So you can see both of these layers are now making a contribution. If I dint have the Normal layer, I would just see the multiplied version of the image burnt into the background.

And if I just had the Normal version of the image masked as it is, and I dint have the multiplied version you can see that I lose all kinds of hair and edge details. So both versions of this image are making a difference. Now, let's say I want to go ahead and warm her up. So I want to bring out some of the warm skin tones in other words. Some of the oranges and the yellows inside of her skin. I'll go ahead and double-click on either one of these Smart Objects. They're both referencing the exact same Camera Raw image embedded inside of the composition. I'll go ahead and double-click on the bottom one right here, in order to revisit the Camera Raw dialog box something you can't do unless you have imported this Camera Raw image as a Smart Object into Photoshop.

And now I'm going to warm up that Temperature value, I'll raise it to 20. I'll tap down to the Brightness value, and I'm going to take it down to -20 and then I'll tap my way over to the Vibrance value and take it up to 30. And you can see that she's now looking quite a bit more orange, she's also looking more saturated. Thanks to this Vibrance value right there. I'll click OK, and in a moment you'll see the change happen. And notice that it happened to both the selected multiplied version of the image, which we can't see right now, it's just around the edges, and to the top Normal version of the image as well, which is the one that we can see here inside the composition.

So both of these layers reference the exact same Smart Object. It's something that I call true clones, because they're really true clones of a single original. All right. The next thing I'm going to do is I'm going to modify these imported Illustrator logos right here, I've got this one layer here called Product logo, and notice that it has a couple of layer effects that are turned off currently. One is the Color Overlay, which goes ahead and re-colors this logo in Gold instead of that Pink color that we saw before. And then I also have this Drop Shadow. As soon as I turn on the Drop Shadow effect, the logo looks pretty rotten.

Now, the Drop Shadow helps to set the logo off from the rest of the composition, but it also ends up making a big mess of things. Well I happened to have another stroke that I could call forth inside of the original Illustrator graphic if I wanted to, and I'm going to do that right now, and I'll show you how that works. So this is a graphic that comes from Adobe Illustrator. I placed it into this composition using that exact same Place command here under the File menu. I'll now return to this Product logo layer and I'll double-click on its thumbnail. I'll get this warning that's telling me I'm about to edit a Smart Object and I need to choose File > Save in order to update the larger composition fine.

I will click OK and then Photoshop will automatically launch Adobe Illustrator for me. So suddenly Adobe Illustrator, if you have the full Creative Suite, you have Illustrator as well as Photoshop, and now Illustrator becomes a plug-in for Photoshop. It's an embedded working environment inside of your larger composition. I'm now going to select these two items here, the word Product as well as this filigree ornament. And notice here inside the Appearance palette that I have this item called Stroke that's currently turned off. So if I turn on its eyeball, then I can see that white Stroke.

That's absolutely perfect. Exactly what I want. I'll go up to the File menu and I'll choose Save. Now, I'm not saving this Illustration in disk. I'm saving it into Photoshop because again Illustrator is working as a plug-in for Photoshop. So I'll choose Save and it looks like nothing has happened. But let's go ahead and return to Photoshop. I'm pressing Alt+Tab here on the PC. That would be a Command+Tab on the Mac, and you can see, look at that. Both the Product logo down here and the larger logo in the background, they're both updated according to the modifications we just made, and that is the power of Smart Objects.

And I'm here to tell you that is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. If you want to learn more about this including Smart Filters, which we did not see here, then you want to check out my Photoshop CS4 Smart Object Series with lynda.com and you can learn more about lynda.com at lynda.com/deke. And that my friends is feature #18 Smart Objects here inside Photoshop.

Find answers to the most frequently asked questions about Photoshop Top 40.


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Q: Is there a way to batch convert an entire folder of photos from the RBG color mode to the CMYK color mode without having to open and convert each individual image?
A: In the Actions panel in Photoshop, create an action that converts an image from RGB to CMYK. Then link to that action from File > Automate > Batch inside Photoshop.
Next, in the Bridge, select a folder of images. Choose Tools > Photoshop > Batch. Select the action inside the ensuing dialog box.
Or, in Photoshop, select File > Automate > Batch, and select the action and the folder inside the dialog box.
See also: Photoshop CS2 Actions & Automation, Chapter 2 “Action Essentials.”
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