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Photoshop CS4 offers an abundance of helpful shortcuts and hidden tricks that allow designers and photographers to get more done in less time. In Photoshop CS4 Power Shortcuts, Michael Ninness reveals hundreds of tips to boost productivity, including the top 20 power shortcuts every Photoshop user must know. He covers strategies for better document and panel management, and offers techniques for becoming quicker and more nimble when using layers, adjustment layers, and layer masks. Exercise files accompany the course.
Download the keyboard shortcut guide from the Exercise Files tab.
Okay, here is a Photoshop trivia question for you. Can you apply a filter to more than one layer at the same time? Well, let's see. I'm going to select these four layers. I'm going to click on the first one, hold down the Shift key, click on the last one. If I go to the Filter menu, all those filter commands are grayed out but there is one that is not. It says Convert for Smart Filters. What does that mean? Well, I'm going to go ahead and do that. I'm going to choose Convert for Smart Filters and what that really means is I'm going to convert this selection of layers into a Smart Object. There you see it consolidates that into a single row inside the Layers panel.
Now, if I wanted to I could have grouped those layers before converting that to a Smart Object. And then I could have them in a group, in a folder, and then convert that folder to a Smart Object, if I wanted to maintain some of that layer structure there. But here I have got them all located into a single layer now. Now don't worry. I haven't merged these. They haven't lost their individual 'layerness' if you will. I can always go back and edit this Smart Object. I'll show you that in just a minute. But now that this is being treated as a single thing in the Layers panel. Now if I got to the Filter menu, oh, look at that. All my filters are now available again. So let's go use your sharpen technique.
We'll use Other, High Pass, use a small Radius here, we'll go ahead and click OK. And at first glance, it just looks like the images have turned into a puddle of gray. But we'll double-click on the Blending Options for High Pass here as a Smart Filter. And we'll change its blend mode to Overlay. Great! Now we zoom in, I'm going to press my Z key for zoom, we'll zoom up little bit so we can see a little bit of all these layers at the same time. Here is before, I'll just turn the Smart Filters off, there, it's unsharpened. Turn it back on, and there sharpen. So you can see I was able to apply a filter to all the layers at once because I converted those multiple layers into a single Smart Object.
Now, if I need to edit those individual layers, its as simple as double clicking on the Smart Object in the Layers panel. If I double-click, it brings up this warning dialog and we can click Don't show again. Click the OK button, and it actually opens up the Smart Object as a separate Photoshop document and there is all my individual layer still maintained. So I can fully edit these, reposition them, change their effects, do whatever I need to do to them. Just to kind of illustrate this, I'll invert the Fall leaves Command+I, Ctrl+I, just do some sort of nondestructive edit here to show you that this edit is going to be updated. I'm going to go ahead and save this and close it. Just hit Command+S or Ctrl+S, Command+W or Ctrl+W to close it.
Now, I'm going to go back to the other document, you will see that that edit has now been updated as part of that Smart Object. So yes, the answer to your trivia question is you can run a filter on more than one layer. Just convert a selection of layers into a Smart Object first.
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