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There might be times when you have multiple layers in your image that you don't want to merge together, but you want to add a filter to all of them at one time. Let's say for example that I want to add a diffuse glow to both of the cactus images. In order to do this, I'm going to select both of them in the Layers panel. And then I'll choose to convert them to a smart object using Layer > Smart Objects > Convert to Smart Object. Now that they're a single smart object, I can add my filter to them. So I'll select Filter > Filter Gallery, and we'll add the Diffuse Glow filter. I don't want to add quite as much grain.
And I'm going to back off a little on the glow amount and a little on the clear amount. Of course if I wanted to see the lower image. We can go ahead and scroll up or I can use Cmd + 0 or Ctrl + 0 to see them both at once. I'll click OK and we can see that that's now been added as a smart filter. If I want to add another filter right now, to all three of these layers. I could select the Smart object as well as the background layer. And I could convert all of this to a Smart object as well. So I'll right mouse click or control click on Mac. And convert these to a smart object.
Now I'll go into the Filter menu, chose Render and then Fibers. If we don't like the default fibers, we can always change the variance, we can also change the strength and we can click to randomize them. I'll click OK, and you can see that the entire image is covered with these fibers. Well, that's not exactly what I want, so I'm going to change the blend mode and opacity. I'll click on the little icon to the right of the name of the filter. Change the blend mode to multiply, which I know we haven't talked about yet, but that's going to give me all of the dark values in my image.
An remove the lighter values. An I'll change my opacity, way down to something like ten. When I click OK you can see that this filter, not only is it applied to what used to be the background layer, but it also goes down through, all of the other layers because they're all in this single smart object. Now if we wanted to go in and change or remove the filter that we'd applied to just these two smaller images. We need to go to the Layer menu and choose Smart Objects, you can see that I can edit the contents of the smart object, so even though, on the Layers panel, it looks like I only have one layer to work with.
When I choose to Edit the content, Photoshop is going to open up the contents of this smart object. So I'll select Edit Contents. Photoshop explains what it's going to do. I'll click OK. And now you can see that I actually have two windows opened. I have the window that has the initial smart object, and then I've told Photoshop to edit the content of this smart object in a separate window. So now if I wanted to change the filter, I could double-click where it says Filter Gallery.
We'll go ahead and select maybe the Artistic Option, and we'll just change this to something obvious like Colored Pencil. Now when I click OK you can see that both of those are updated. If I don't like that I can simply hide the filter by toggling the eye icon next to it. I didn't remove the filter so if I want to come back to it later, I can simply toggle it on. But at least it's not showing right now. Then, in order to update these changes. I need to save the Contents of the smart object .So I'll select File.
And then Save, and then I'll close this, and as soon as I close this window, we can see that these smart objects and the filters that are applied to them will be updated in the master document here. So as you can see, not only can we nest smart objects within smart objects, we can easily apply a re-editable filter to multiple layers at one time. Simply by selecting them in the layers panel and then converting multiple layers into a single smart object.
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