Photoshop Smart Objects
Illustration by John Hersey

Applying and modifying creative effects


Photoshop Smart Objects

with Deke McClelland

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Video: Applying and modifying creative effects

We are going to start things off by jumping feet first into the deep end of the Smart Filtering pool because I want to get a sense of how Smart Objects plus Smart Filters really facilitate the creative effects process. So I am going to take this image right here and by the way, it's called Young businessman.jpg. It's found inside the 05_smart_ filters folder and it comes to us from photographer Felix Mizioznikov of fotolia, about which you can learn more at I am going to apply the Color Halftone filter.
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  1. 17m 13s
    1. Welcome to Photoshop Smart Objects
    2. Installing the dekeKeys keyboard shortcuts
      4m 18s
    3. Installing the CS4 color settings
      4m 15s
    4. Loading the CS4 color settings in Photoshop and Bridge CS4
      7m 41s
  2. 1h 12m
    1. Nondestructive transformations
      1m 14s
    2. The purpose of Smart Objects
      5m 17s
    3. The trials of destructive transformations
      5m 1s
    4. Creating a Smart Object
      6m 36s
    5. The rewards of nondestructive transformations
      4m 29s
    6. Preparing a composition for masking
      4m 59s
    7. Establishing a base alpha channel
      6m 25s
    8. Masking a Smart Object
      7m 3s
    9. Refining the layer mask
      6m 50s
    10. Multiplying the edges
      4m 17s
    11. Manually adjusting the problem edges
      6m 3s
    12. Free Transform feedback
      5m 14s
    13. The ultimate nondestructive crop
      9m 8s
  3. 1h 19m
    1. Photoshop and its support applications
      1m 45s
    2. Creating a Camera Raw (ACR) Smart Object
      5m 8s
    3. Converting a JPEG image to DNG
      4m 47s
    4. Replacing pixels with Camera Raw data
      5m 27s
    5. Matching image and ACR resolution
      4m 25s
    6. Adjusting ACR Smart Objects
      5m 33s
    7. Importing Illustrator artwork
      6m 13s
    8. Opening placed art in Illustrator
      5m 51s
    9. Examining dynamic effects
      7m 9s
    10. Modifying Illustrator artwork
      5m 20s
    11. Updating an Illustrator Smart Object
      4m 20s
    12. Styling placed artwork in Photoshop
      3m 33s
    13. Combining layer effects and adjustment layers
      5m 14s
    14. Copying a layer from a clipping group
      5m 0s
    15. Scaling vector data beyond 100 percent
      3m 9s
    16. Blending vector data with pixels
      2m 10s
    17. Saving PDF-compatible Illustrator art
      4m 23s
  4. 1h 26m
    1. Many Smart Objects reference a single source
      1m 9s
    2. Smart Objects and file size
      5m 11s
    3. Placing images as Smart Objects
      4m 44s
    4. Creating a basic lens flare
      5m 43s
    5. Turning a flare into a black hole
      6m 2s
    6. Establishing a first true clone
      4m 9s
    7. Finding the exact center of an image
      2m 37s
    8. Reflecting additional clones
      4m 55s
    9. The art of upsampling
      7m 45s
    10. Editing the root image
      5m 37s
    11. Updating all true clones
      3m 29s
    12. Roughing in a polygonal mask
      7m 13s
    13. Parametric Feather and Glow
      7m 12s
    14. Smart sharpening Smart Filter
      5m 36s
    15. Adding highlights and vibrance
      7m 10s
    16. Luminance blending
      8m 18s
  5. 49m 7s
    1. Placing one Smart Object inside another
      1m 9s
    2. Creating a super-massive Smart Object
      7m 9s
    3. Styling a super-massive Smart Object
      4m 29s
    4. Recoloring background regions
      4m 42s
    5. Cloning a super-massive Smart Object
      5m 56s
    6. Finishing off the first draft
      5m 4s
    7. The plasma ball effect
      4m 45s
    8. Applying the Smart Clouds filters
      4m 57s
    9. Converting clouds to lightning
      5m 4s
    10. Updating nested Smart Objects
      5m 52s
  6. 1h 14m
    1. Editable, nondestructive filters
      1m 24s
    2. Applying and modifying creative effects
      6m 54s
    3. Blending filtered effects
      6m 24s
    4. Tweaking filters with adjustment layers
      4m 14s
    5. Restoring halftone highlights
      4m 25s
    6. The price of Smart Filters
      5m 56s
    7. The power of true clones
      7m 13s
    8. Sharing between Smart Objects and comps
      8m 45s
    9. Just click on it
      1m 50s
    10. Applying a corrective filter
      5m 24s
    11. Smart Filters and disk space
      3m 46s
    12. Picking the right blend mode
      6m 36s
    13. Combining multiple Smart Filters
      6m 13s
    14. Editing and previewing filter settings
      5m 27s
  7. 1h 44m
    1. Still more Smart Filters
      1m 3s
    2. Introducing the non-filters
      4m 15s
    3. Reducing luminance contrast
      5m 19s
    4. Faking an HDR portrait effect
      7m 20s
    5. Adding a filter mask
      3m 22s
    6. Editing filter masks and density
      4m 26s
    7. Applying Variations as a Smart Filter
      7m 24s
    8. Establishing independent filter masks
      4m 51s
    9. Painting away unwanted halos
      6m 28s
    10. Creating a wood grain effect
      6m 2s
    11. The luminance-style filter mask
      6m 23s
    12. The downside of independent filters
      5m 11s
    13. Merging the effects of two filters
      4m 38s
    14. Adjusting and merging masked effects
      6m 26s
    15. Introducing the Filter Gallery filters
      4m 39s
    16. Applying a Filter Gallery filter
      5m 57s
    17. Merging two Filter Gallery effects
      7m 16s
    18. Adjusting the colors of Sketch filters
      5m 2s
    19. Adding a third filter to a combo
      4m 58s
    20. The versatility of Smart Filters
      3m 2s
  8. 1m 31s
    1. Goodbye
      1m 31s

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Watch the Online Video Course Photoshop Smart Objects
8h 5m Intermediate Nov 06, 2009

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

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.

Topics include:
  • Preparing a composition for masking
  • Manually adjusting problematic edges in a composition
  • Combining layer effects and adjustment layers
  • Roughing in a polygonal mask
  • Cloning a super-massive Smart Object
  • Applying Variations as a Smart Filter
Design Photography
Deke McClelland

Applying and modifying creative effects

We are going to start things off by jumping feet first into the deep end of the Smart Filtering pool because I want to get a sense of how Smart Objects plus Smart Filters really facilitate the creative effects process. So I am going to take this image right here and by the way, it's called Young businessman.jpg. It's found inside the 05_smart_ filters folder and it comes to us from photographer Felix Mizioznikov of fotolia, about which you can learn more at I am going to apply the Color Halftone filter.

Not sure if you know about it, but you can render an image you're seeing gargantuan CMYK Halftone Dots, so that it looks like something out of the Sunday comics or perhaps a Roy Lichtenstein piece. And then though thanks to the fact that you applied it as a Smart Filter, you can turn around and customize the effect to your heart's content and that's what we will see here. So not a practical technique. Just a play technique. I am wanting to achieve a very specific effect though. I am wanting to get a highly graphical effect out of this image, the kind of thing I might use in an advertisement, for example.

All right, so step number one is to convert this image to a Smart Object as usual. Now, a couple different ways to work. We've seen how you can convert an image to Smart Object by going up the Layers palette flyout menu and choosing Convert to Smart Object. You can press Ctrl+Comma or Command+ Comma if you have loaded my dekeKeys. I will go ahead and escape out of there. You can also go up to the Filter menu and you can choose Convert for Smart Filters. Now all that does is it turns the image into a Smart Object but see, Adobe figured that not everybody would know, quite reasonably so I think, that in order to apply an editable Smart Filter, you first need to create a Smart Object which is the way it works.

So they went ahead and put this command here, so you would know if you want a Smart Filter, you got to choose this command to make a Smart Object. And in fact, when you choose the command, you get this alert message that says To enable re-editable-- what's wrong with just plain old editable-- Smart Filters, the selected layer will be converted to a Smart Object. And you go, hey okay, and you can if you want to say Don't show again on this one. I am just going to say OK and I will go ahead and rename this layer photograph, because it is my original photograph. All right, having done that, I am going to go up to the Filter menu, I'm going to choose Pixelate and all the Pixelate filters will go ahead and render the image out using various chunky affects.

You either can produce a circular pattern using Color Halftone. Pointillize also ends up delivering dots. Mosaic will give you big squares as if you've rendered the image at a lower resolution. Crystallize will give you sort of a stained glass look. Some of the others I really don't necessarily recommend. Facet sort of thickens the edges. Fragment makes it look jiggly. A couple of the worst filters in Photoshop frankly. Anyway I am going to go with this guy right there, Color Halftone. Just pretty darn exciting. And in by default, what you are going to see here, no preview.

This is one of those filters that doesn't give you a preview and by the way, most of the filters either give you no preview or bad previews. So that's just something you should realize when you're going into the Filter menu. There are some really great filters-- by the way, if you've seen my Photoshop CS3 Sharpening Images series, then you know the filters I really recommend. They are the edge detection filters, your Smart Sharpen, your High Pass, your Gaussian Blur, your Reduce Noise, that kind of thing. The others are effect filters and most of the effect filters are very difficult to predict and the only way to really come to terms with them is to spend some time with them.

If they're not working for you, there's a very good chance it's their fault because a lot of them aren't all that great. But anyway, here we are in Color Halftone. It's a super filter for what it does. By default, it's set to a Max. Radius of 8 pixels, meaning that you're going to have the circles that can grow to a maximum radius of 8 pixels. That's the diameter of 16 pixels, bear in mind. So higher values will give you bigger dots and the reason it says Max. Radius is because lighter areas are going to have small circles and darker areas are going to have big circles, just like halftone dots in commercial printing.

And so, for effect purposes, you want to go pretty big with this value typically. I don't worry about Channel 1, Channel 2, Channel 3, Channel 4. These are the CMYK channels incidentally. They are not real channels. They are channel in quote fingers, because we are still working inside of an RGB image here. But what they are is the screen angles and that's typically something you just want to leave to Photoshop because these screen angles are known to work well. They are actual professional standards, believe it or not. But if you want to achieve different effects, you can try different stuff. Just be prepared for the fact that you don't have a preview and you are going to have to probably modify your settings if you go playing with these guys, even if you just play with this.

In fact, let's go ahead and set this to 8, which is the default value, and I'll click OK and we'll apply the Color Halftone effect and I'll look at and I will think, hmmm, those dots aren't big enough. Well, the great thing about working with Smart Filters is it sort of takes care of that problem to a small extent where you can't preview the effect because the great thing here is you haven't really applied anything. It's a non-destructive application of filter because we have an underlying Smart Object here. So the original pixels are protected.

So all I have to do to change my mind, if I decide those dots are too tiny, all I have to do is double click on Color Halftone and then drag this out of the way so at least I can have a sense of what's going on there and then I could increase this value to 16 pixels. Let's try that again. It gets reapplied. Aha! That's looking better to me because I want this big, huge graphical effect. If that's still not what you want, you can double-click on the filter again. Try some new settings like let's try 20, what the heck. Click OK and see the size of the dots now and play around as much as you want.

Anyway, I am going to go back, set this to 16 and click OK, and I am done. Now I'm going to say one more thing here. I am not a big fan of having a filter mask by default because it takes up room inside of my Layers palette. It's not a problem to leave it there if you're happy seeing it, that's fine, but it's typically big and it's as big as the image thumbnail. It just consumes too much room. So, if you don't want it there, you just right-click on the filter mask and choose Delete Filter Mask. You can also go ahead and grab that filter mask, drag it and drop it on to the Trashcan icon if you want to but it's just so much easier to right-click and choose Delete Filter Mask, and there it goes.

If you ever decide you want a filter mask again later, which many times you will, then you right-click, not on the filter name but on Smart Filters above it there, right-click and then choose Add Filter Mask and your filter mask comes back. All right, anyway, we have applied a Smart Filter. We have edited the Smart Filter. But there are still things I want to do this filter effect. I am not happy with it yet and so we will experiment with the blend mode settings in the very next exercise.

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