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Here, we're going to dig in to how to work with Smart Filters, and along the way, I am going to share with you a really fun technique that you can apply to your image which allows you to add Contrast and Color Saturation and a Soft Glow. Well, the first step for working with the Smart Filter is to convert the layer. Because Smart Filters allow you to constantly edit the filter, you need to change the characteristics of the layer so that we're not actually applying the filter to the pixels themselves. Let me show you what I mean.
Well, here you can either right-click or Ctrl+Click, and then choose Convert to Smart Object or on the other hand, you can go to your Filter pulldown menu, and then you can select Convert for Smart Filters. Well, let's use either technique to go ahead and do that, which opens up this dialog which says, to enable the Smart Filters which you can constantly edit, it's going to convert this layer into a Smart Object. Well great! That's exactly what we wanted to do, we will click OK. Well now you'll notice that the layer looks different.
Also, there's a little icon in the bottom right-hand corner. Let's rename this layer. We will go ahead and call this one boat. Next, what I want to do is apply a few filters to this layer. The first filter that I want to apply in order to accomplish my effect is called Gaussian Blur. You can access that by going to the Filter pulldown menu, then choosing Blur, and then about halfway down, you can select Gaussian Blur. Well, here what we want to do is we want to increase the Blur amount so that we can't see much of the detail in our photograph.
Next, go ahead and click OK. Once we do that, we will notice that we have a few new icons in our Layers panel. We have a Mask, we have the name of the filter we just applied and also this strange little icon over here on the far right. Well, because we have these new icons, what I want to do is pull up a slide which will allow me to kind of deconstruct what we are seeing here, so that we can really understand how to work with these different options. All right! Well let me open up this slide. The first screen-grab that I have here just reminds you that you can go to your Filter menu, and choose Convert for Smart Filters.
Next, we have the Layers panel. In the Layers panel, you'll notice you have the filter name. If you double-click on that filter name, it will actually reopen the Filter dialog so that you can change the amount of the filter that you're applying. Next, this little icon over here with those two lines and two triangles, double-click that, and it will open up some blending options for this filter that you're applying. You can choose a Blending mode, and also, an opacity for that blending. Well now that we know about this and now that we know how to do this, let me go ahead and go back to the image here and let's take a look at how we can use these controls.
Well the first one we need to use is Blending. So let's double-click this icon here, and then take our Blending mode to that blending mode which adds contrast and color saturation, that soft flight. Here you can see the image where it looks just much different. If I go ahead and click-and-drag to move this, you can see we have that preview of how this Blending mode is working. And essentially what this is doing is its adding contrast but also a little bit of nice kind of dream like soft glow.
And for a photograph like this, well this effect, it works really well. Let's click OK in order to accept that, and then next, if we want to change the overall Blur amount, well just double-click on this icon here and then you can change that overall Blur. What you'll see is now a live preview of the blur being blended with whatever Blending mode and Opacity amount we chose over here previously. This is really nice because this can help me determine how high or how low I want to go in order to have some nice soft effect or in order to have this nice soft glow on the image.
Well, let's click OK. Then next to turn this off, we can always click on the Mask icon, that will hide this effect altogether. To turn that view back on, we will just click back on the Eye icon. You can also turn off individual filters. In other words, if we go back to our Filter menu, and then here go to Noise, and then select Add Noise, we can add another filter to our image. I will choose Gaussian and Monochromatic. Then I will go ahead and decrease the Amount here. I am going to bring this way down, and I'll decrease that and then click OK.
So now here you can see I have two filters. Click to turn off the visibility of one by clicking on the Eye icon, or you can always turn them both off by clicking on this icon here. So in this way, you have really specific control about how these filters are being applied to your photograph. Now, with the Add Noise Filter, you also notice we have the ability to add some blending. Here I will go ahead and I will also add some soft light blending to this noise layer. Next, I'll decrease the Opacity, and by doing this, it will scale that back a little bit, so that, that's a little bit less prominent.
Once again, click OK in order to apply that. So as you can see Smart Filters, they give you so much flexibility in order to come up with some really interesting effects like we have here. Again, our before and then our after. So you may be thinking to yourself, all right! I'm convinced, Smart Filters are awesome, why would I not use them? Well, the downside to using Smart Filters is that they take up extra file size. Also, in order to access Blending, you have to do a lot of double-clicking.
You double-click to Blend, change that Amount, and then close it, double-click again, and you can see how this goes on and on. Yet, the advantage of course is that you have this flexibility, so you kind of have to decide, do I want to make these filters, or do I want to apply these filters on separate layers, or do I want to apply them as Smart Filters? What I found in my own workflow, and in my experience with a lot of different people is that it's really just a personal preference. You can build in this flexibility by simply working on duplicate layers or you can do this by way of Smart Filters.
My hope is that by showing you how both of these different techniques work, you can now make the decision about what type of approach you want to take when working with filters in your own workflow.
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