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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.
I have saved my progress as Halftoned businessman.psd, found inside the 05_smart_filters folder. You may recall we took this image from the Fotolia Image Library. We converted it to a Smart Object and we applied Color Halftone as a Smart Filter. Now, I want to show you something about the Color Halftone filter very quickly here. I will double-click on it. Notice that it has this value right here that says 16 pixels. Now, that means that the Max. Radius of any of these circles is going to be 16 Pixels, which means the maximum Diameter, which is twice the Radius, is going to be 32 Pixels.
So in the light areas you see we have these tiny circles, and then in the darker areas we have big pixels. Now, the reason I mention this is not so much because we care that the biggest circle is 32 Pixels across, but rather, when you see the word pixels, you should bear in mind that you are working with a resolution dependent effect. So if you are working with a high resolution image, you tend to want higher pixel values. If you are working with a low resolution image, you tend to want to work with lower pixel values. Now, it's not like, oh, for 300 Pixels per inch, you want to set your Radius value here to 30 Pixels, one-tenth, or something like tha. There is no rhyme or reason there.
It's totally up to you what you do. Just note that if you are trying to achieve a specific effect on a low resolution image, you are going to enter a lower value than you would on a higher resolution image. So be prepared to adjust that value according to the resolution. The other option that you want to look for-- So any time you see the word Pixels inside of a filter dialog box, note resolution dependent. Also, when you see the word Radius. That's another tip off. Radius is always measured in pixels, so it's resolution dependent as well. All right.
I am going to go ahead and cancel out of here. Now, this isn't the effect I am really looking for. Filters are a lot of fun to play with. A lot of people get in there and start experimenting with them, especially early on. I find that most Photoshop users have played with the Filter menu quite a bit by the time they get through the first year of using the product. And what that means is there is a lot of rinky-dink filtered images out there, and your application of a single filter is going to be just like the other guy's application of that same filter.
So you probably, more likely than not, you are going to want to modify your filtered effects. Also, it helps to go into things with an idea of what kind of an effect you want to achieve in the first place. And I know, for my part, that I don't want all these wacky colored halftone dots. I want the dots to be rendered out at more muted tones, and then I am going to want to sort of play with the image to see what kind of effect I can achieve. Now, if you decide you want to customize your effect, the first way to do it is to change the blend mode and Opacity values, and you can do that from the Layers palette here by moving over to this icon, that little double slider icon.
You can see if you hover over it, it says Double-click to edit filter blending options. Go ahead and do so, and that will bring up the Blending Options dialog box, which lets you change the blend mode and the Opacity value of this specific filtered effect, and blend it with the original image. And you have that control over every single Smart Filter you apply. Each one is going to operate independently. But the idea is whatever the effect of this filter is combined with the ones below it, you are blending it with the stuff below, or in our case, just the underlying original here, using these blend modes.
So it's not like you are kind of backing off the effect; you are mixing it, just as if it were on an independent layer. All right. So I could change the Opacity value, if I want to, like lower it to 50%, and I am going to get 50% filtered image, mixed with 50% original, which actually produces a pretty interesting effect. I could even take it down lower if I want to, 25%, and I will just get a little bit of halftoning going on. However, that's not what I want. I will change it back to 100%. I want to play with the blend mode. You have a lot of blend modes to work with here.
For example, if you wanted to retain the colors inside of the halftone dots and mix them with the underlying luminance information, which would be the detail of the image, you would choose Color, and you will get this effect right here. So you can still see all the detail now, but you are mixing in the wacky colors, which is interesting, although quite ugly, I think. So I am going to change the blend mode to Luminosity, which will be exactly the opposite. We will keep the luminance information, the detail from the dots, and we will mix it in with the original colors, which is actually a better effect I think. It gives you this.
Pretty nifty. And once again, you could then turn around and lower the Opacity value. Let's try 35% this time. Interesting! Now, it may be that you came into things with a very specific idea of what you wanted, and it may be that you came into this filter, for example, started manipulating the image, with a vague sense of what you wanted. Then you start playing with the blend modes and the Opacity values and you start to hone in on the better effect. So sometimes the tools inform your creativity is basically the idea. All right.
Anyway, that's kind of the case where I am going here. I am going to change the Opacity value back to 100. There is all sorts of stuff I could try here. I could try, for example, the Multiply mode, if I wanted to burn those halftone dots into the original. I could try Overlay and see what that ends up giving me, if I want to create a high contrast version of the image. That's not it either. I eventually decide I would try Difference, which is an inversion effect. You are using the filtered version of the image in our case to invert the original image.
So white inverts completely, black doesn't invert at all, and you come up with this effect here, which is wild I think. And then I decided, well, let's try Exclusion. Now, Exclusion is sort of a muted version of Difference. When two colors are the same that overlap each other, they go to gray as opposed to black. So let's go ahead and try that out, and we end up getting this effect here, which I actually think is better. I rarely use Exclusion, but in this case it produces an effect I quite like.
I am going to go ahead and click OK. Now, you might look at this and say well, what you like, Deke, is quite strange. Still, we need to apply a few color modifications, because I am not thrilled with the colors we have achieved so far and we are going to do that using adjustment layers in the next exercise.
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