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Photoshop mastery can be elusive, but in Photoshop CS4 One-on-One: Mastery, best-selling author and video trainer Deke McClelland teaches the most powerful, unconventional, and flexible features of the program. In this third and final installment of the popular and comprehensive series, Deke delves into the strongest features that Photoshop has to offer, including scalable vector graphics, Smart Objects, and Photomerge. Exercise files accompany the course.
Recommended prerequisites: Photoshop CS4 One-on-One: Fundamentals and Photoshop CS4 One-on-One: Advanced, both part of the lynda.com Online Training Library®.
Download Deke's customized keyboard layouts and color settings for Photoshop from the Exercise Files tab.
In this exercise, I'm going to show you another way to create Smart Objects inside of Photoshop. And this time, as opposed to working from a vector-based illustration, we'll create a pixel- based Smart Object, which is more likely, quite frankly. I mean, depending on your workflow you may import a fair number of illustrations in Photoshop. But more of us are going to be creating pixel-based Smart Objects and it's still plenty useful as you'll see. In fact, one might argue it's even more useful still.
I've gone ahead and saved my progress as Blue strokes.psd, and I have this image right here that I also have open that's called Germ.psd. This is a cartoon that was created for me by Jason Woliner. We've mentioned this guy before. He now directs the MTV Sketch Comedy 'Human Giant' just an amazing guy. Anyway, he created this hilarious cartoon, I think. I want to import it into the other composition as a Smart Object. So there are two different ways I could work. One is I could go back to Blue strokes.psd. I could go to the File menu, I could choose the Place command, and then I could select my Germ, right there, Germ.psd, and I could place it and it would come in as a Smart Object. So, I'm originally allowed to determine the size as I'm placing this image. I'll just go ahead and accept its huge gianormous size right there as it is, by pressing the Enter key or the Return key on the Mac and then I'll see, sure enough, it's a Smart Object.
Even though, it's a pixel-based image, so it may look like an illustration because it has nice sharp edges and it's a cartoon, but it was, in fact, created inside of Photoshop using pixels. All right, so that's one way to do it, but we've already seen that, so I'll press Backspace or Delete on the Mac in order to get rid of that layer. Let's try a different way. Again, this is potentially a more common way for you to work, depending, you've got all sorts of options available to you, but I find that I tend to work this way more often. Now, I'm wondering why, why do I work this way more often? I don't know. But anyway, let's go back to Germ.psd. I'm going to press and hold the Ctrl key on the Command key on the Mac to get my Move tool right there.
I'll go ahead and drag this guy up to the Blue strokes.psd tab, because I'm working in the tabbed window display. Then I'll move my cursor back into the composition once it pops up on screen and I'll release and there is the big old germ, not a Smart Object, notice that's also not named the way it was automatically named just a moment ago. When you choose the Place command, Photoshop automatically names the layer after the document on disc. So, I would have gone ahead and called it Germ. I'm going to have to manually name mine Germ 1, because we're going to have several Germs, and then I'll press the Enter key or the Return key on the Mac.
But it's not a Smart Object. So were I to sit here and scale it in one direction and then another direction and so on and so on, then I would incrementally ruin the image. Let me just show you that because I want to show you what you need to do to avoid that. So I'll press Ctrl+T, Command+T on the Mac, because he is an awfully big germ. Germs are scarier when they're tiny. That's the whole thing that's so scary about germs is they can get in all over the place and create havoc because there are so many of the tiny guys. So anyway, he needs to be smaller. So, I'm going to make him like really, really super dinky, let's say, so dinky that I totally lose track of them. So let's go ahead and go find them.
He's down here and oops! Look, he's so dinky I can't even drag them properly. I accidentally removed his origin point. Let's go ahead and get him and move them over and then I'd say I want it really dinky. He's so tiny. This is more indicative of the real size of a germ. Actually that would still be gianormous for a germ, but it's only 2%. Press the Enter key or the Return key on the Mac and I say that was 2% of its original size because I saw that, ever so briefly up there in the Options bar. Now I'll press Ctrl+T or Command+T again, because of my art director, of course, telling me that that's too small. Now I'm seeing that the width and height are 100%, because Photoshop has no knowledge of the previously existing germ, we wiped it out. That's the way it is when you're not working with Smart Object.
So I'll make it bigger, I'm like, yeah, okay, I'll make it bigger. That's not looking too good and I press the Enter key or the Return key on the Mac and I've got a big, blobby, blurry germ and, of course, I get fired again. So much for that job. I'm getting fired a lot during this one composition here, but it happens. Anyway, the point is before I embarked on these transformations, I should have gone ahead and made it a Smart Object. First thing, so let's go ahead and back up, Ctrl+Alt+C, Ctrl+Alt+C a couple of times. Command+Option+Z, Command+Option+Z on a Mac to get the germ back to its original size, to its big old size there. Then let's make it a Smart Object right now.
The simplest way is to go to the Layers palette menu right there, the flyout menu, and choose Convert to Smart Object. And I love this command so much that if you have loaded DekeKeys, I've given you a keyboard shortcut of Ctrl+Comma or Command+Comma on the Mac. I'll go ahead and choose that command there, and now we have a Smart Object. Now I can run through that exact same scenario that we witnessed just a moment ago, Ctrl+T, Command+T on the Mac, in order to enter the Free Transform mode. Then scale the germ to the point you can't see it anymore. Then go ahead and drag it down a little bit and then make my germ dinky, tinysaurus right there, just so small you can't even know how big it is. It's down to 0.1% now.
Oh my goodness! That's small. Press the Enter key or the Return key on a Mac. I don't even know what happened to my germ anymore. It's so tiny that I've lost track of it. Let's go ahead and zoom in. Now that's accurate germ size. That's what I would argue with my art director. That's about how big a germ would be. Look at that, now we're seeing the pixel grid. I'll go ahead and press Ctrl+H or Command+H on the Mac, so that we can see. There is our single pixel germ now. Anyway, my art director and I frequently don't see eye to eye. So I'm told that this needs to be bigger. So I'll press Ctrl+T, Command+T on the Mac to gain access once again to the Free Transform mode. What I'll do is take this up to 25%. So I'm going to go ahead and make it bigger. Now it's not looking like its going to look too good here. It's looking bad for me and my ability to hold on to this job.
We'll see, but I'll go ahead and zoom out. Drag this corner handle as I'm pressing the Shift key and I'm going to take this guy up to, 25% is what I'm looking for. So I'll go ahead and just cut to the chase, click on the Chain icon right up here in the Options bar, and change either the W or H value to 25%, and then press the Enter key a couple of times and there it is, looking sweet. So even though, I had reduced it to a microscopic level, I can still make it larger here inside Photoshop, by applying a nondestructive transformation, always it's that way, as long as you take the time to set up a Smart Object in the first place.
In the next exercise, I'll show you how Smart Objects not only afford us the option of applying nondestructive transformations, which, if that's all they did would be actually fairly terrific, but not only that, you can also create instances, so I can create multiple germs that are based on a single, original. Stay tuned.
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