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Every once in a while, if you are a designer especially, you may run into the scenario where you want to apply a filter to more than one layer. And if you take a look at this little postcard we have got, we have got each of these four squares each on their own layer. And I want to run an Add Noise filter to all four of them. I want to add some texture there. The problem is if I go and select these four layers by clicking on the first one, holding down the Shift key and clicking on the last one, if I go to the Filter menu, you'll see all those filters are grayed out. Filters can only be applied to one layer at a time, or can they? There is actually a workaround.
Now one might think, "Well, just merge these layers down into a single layer." I don't necessarily want to do that because I may not be sure that this is the actual layout, the final layout of these images. I might want to swap the Tulips image with the Iris image and change their corners, or even move them around into some completely different location. So, once you merge layers down, you'll lose some of the editing flexibility. So, what I want to do is somehow figure out a way to apply a filter to more than one layer without having to merge the layers down and lose that flexibility.
To do it, what we're going to do is we are going to group these layers into a new group. And the group command is Command+G or Ctrl+G. It's under the Layer menu as well. You can group the layers and call it Group 1. We will just go ahead and change the name of this to Squares. Now does that do it for us? If you go to the Filter menu, no, still not available, but notice what is available. Convert for Smart Filters is available. So, if I choose that, it's going to turn that whole group into a Smart Object.
Now why is that a good thing? Because I haven't lost the individual layers within that Smart Object. If I double-click on the Smart Object thumbnail, I get this message saying, "Hey, "are you going to edit this? "It's going to open up in a separate window. Are you sure you want to do that?" Yes, I do. I am going to go ahead and Don't show again, because that's an annoying message. I am going to click OK. And you'll see there are my four individual layers still available for me, to edit, rename, reposition, do whatever I want to them and just to prove it all, invert this, Command+I, Ctrl+I to invert that.
Save that change by doing Command+S, Ctrl+S. Close the window by doing Command or Ctrl+W, and then when I return back to this other document, you'll see that change has been updated. Let's go and change it back by double- clicking on the Smart Object thumbnail again, choosing the Dahlia layer there again and inverting it, Command+I. And we'll save, Command+S, Ctrl+S, close and be taken back to this original file now. Okay, so it's been converted as a Smart Object. Because of that, I can now choose a Filter and apply them to all four of those individual layers by way of a Smart Object.
So, let's go back to Noise > Add Noise. And we will add a little texture to those four squares, not too much. We'll go ahead and click OK, and there is your workaround, the way to apply a Filter to more than one layer.
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