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Photoshop Smart Objects explores the creation and use of Smart Objects, one of the most technically demanding tools in Photoshop. Deke McClelland walks through the four primary purposes of Smart Objects, and focuses on one of their most practical advantages, non-destructive transformations. This feature allows any object to be manipulated in any way, while still maintaining its original pixel information. Finally, Deke shows how to crop compositions without affecting a single pixel, even in masks. Exercise files accompany this course.
Download Deke's customized keyboard layouts and color settings for Photoshop from the Exercise Files tab.
In this exercise, we are going to take a look at that other great non-filter that you can apply as a Smart Filter here inside of Photoshop and that is Variations. And a Variations command allows you to correct for the color cast of an image or just adjust the color balance in general. And you can do it by clicking on colorful thumbnails and when you apply Variations as a Smart Filter, you can modify the effects of your settings, as much as you like. It becomes an extremely powerful function as you'll see.
So I have gone ahead and saved my changes as Reasonably young again.psd, so-called because he is still as areas that could be interpreted as gray. Although I think he looks great. If you don't, if you want to change him further, you can just click on this filter mask or by the way, if you want to select the filter mask when the image is otherwise selected, you can go up here to the Masks palette. This is assuming you're working inside of Photoshop CS4. Notice that this little guy no longer has a plus on him. These guys do because we don't have a pixel-based layer mask and we don't have a vector mask associated with this layer currently.
So each of these have pluses to indicate if you click on them you're going to add that thing. Whereas we already added a filter mask, so it doesn't have a plus. Instead it becomes Select the filter mask. You click on it and then you select the filter mask. That simple. And then, you can do things like, hey! Look at this. You can invert the mask if you want to. And by the way this is an interesting effect that happens every once in a while. There is no reason we'd want to invert the mask, by the way. Now we've restored his gray hair and we've gone ahead and painted away some of the filtered effects inside of his face and so forth.
But notice this blocky sort of pattern right there. That's what's known as tiling inside of Photoshop. You don't see it very often. Basically, Photoshop is calculating all of the effects in these square tiles and what's happened in this case is it only got so far through the effect before it choked and then it gave up, and it's completely a previewing thing. So if this happens to you for whatever reason, you can click on Invert again to restore the original filter mask right there and then you can try Invert yet again in order to invert the entire thing and then you'll get this effect here, which of course is totally not what we want.
But I wanted you to see that is an option. You also have this eyeball that allows you to turn the effect off, turn it back on. Color Range will bring up the Color Range dialog box. It's not useful when you're working with a filter mask, because you can't actually see the original image. But anyway, I'm going to click on Invert to restore the mask as it was. Anyway, just wanted you to see that. Now what I am going to do in this case is I am going to go ahead and click on the image. It's important that you click on the thumbnail for the Smart Object, because if you don't, notice if I go up to the Image menu and now I choose Adjustments, this is bizarre.
Also, I have access to Brightness/ Contrast and Levels and Curves and all these static color adjustments. And I can select Variations, if I want to. Notice by the way, if you loaded the dekeKeys, I have gone ahead and given you a keyboard shortcut for Variations of Ctrl+B, Command+B on the Mac and that's moved from Color Balance because Variations is so much more useful. But anyway, notice if I choose Variations, then I am applying Variations to the mask. That's not what I want. So cancel out of there. Instead you want to click on the thumbnail for the image itself in order to make the Smart Object active, then go up to the Image menu, choose Adjustments and now you'll see you only have your two non-filters: Shadows/Highlights, which we don't need to apply again, and Variations.
Now, let's say I am looking at this image and I feel like it's a little bit cool. That is, it's trending toward the blues too much. I want to send it toward the oranges a little more. Why then I would go ahead and choose the Variations command in order to bring up the Variations dialog box. Now you'll notice that there's this group of six color thumbnails around the Current Pick and by the way, just to make sure that you are starting from scratch, I want you to click on Original, this guy right there, in order to restore the original version of the image to current pick.
So that any modifications you make are from ground zero. It's essentially what I am saying. So that we are going to add yellow or add read or add magenta, that kind of thing, to the image as it appeared when we first opened this dialog box. Now notice that everything is more, More Green, More Yellow, More Red, More Magenta, More Blue, More Cyan, what a greedy dialog box. But here's what's really going on. Anything that's across from each other, like green and magenta, they are opposites. So if you want less green, you add More Magenta and that defeats the green, and then notice that Original and More Green match each other, because we got rid of green inside the image.
If we want to add the green back in, we will restore the Original version of the image. More Yellow and More Blue are direct opposites, so clicking on More Yellow gets rid of blue. More Red and More Cyan are direct opposites so clicking on More Red gets rid of cyan and so forth. The opposite is true too. Anyway, I am going to click on Original once again, and here's what I want to do. I am going to bring up this Fine/Coarse value to a tick mark over toward Coarse. So we can really see the difference. Notice you can go very fine with the adjustments from this dialog box. Only you can't see what the difference is when you go that Fine. The thumbnail has become useless to you.
So if you really wanted to make very fine-tuned adjustments with the Variations dialog box, it kind of doesn't work. It's very difficult to use that way. Whereas, if you crank it up, you can really see what you're doing and then you can back off the Opacity of your Smart Filter after you apply the effect. So it becomes a brilliant way to work in my opinion. So I am going to click on More Yellow and More Red, which is the same as getting rid of some blue and getting rid of some cyan, and that's going to warm up the image. Now it's going to warm up the image way too much. It starts looking a little sunshine hot.
But that's okay, because we can back off the effect just as we will in a moment. So go ahead and click OK in order to accept that modification and you will now see that Variations has been applied to our photograph. Now what I am going to tell you is that you want to reduce the opacity. You want to double-click on that little slider icon. Let's click on the eyes so that we can see representative portion of the image and then we would reduce this Opacity value say to 20% or maybe even as low as 10% or something like that. So a very low value.
But I am going to leave it set to 100% for now because I want you to see something. We'll cancel out of there. Notice that we have this weird aura around his head, where the sky is basically baby blue, and then we have a fairly dead sky over here on the left hand side and that's because the filter mask is affecting not only the stuff it should be affecting, which is Shadows/Highlights and might as well paint away the High Pass and Mdeian filters as well, because that's not hurting anything. But masking Variations doesn't make any darn sense. We don't want his hair to be affected differently, than his face and his jacket and his shirt and his tie and the sky.
We want the entire image to be affected by Variations uniformly. So how do we remove Variations from the filter mask equation, especially given that I can't put the filter mask below and Variations above it or anything along those lines. I can just change the order of the filters. So all filters are affected uniformly. What in the world do I do? Well, the answer is nested Smart Objects, as I will demonstrate in the next exercise.
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