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Most Adobe Photoshop artists don't make use of Smart Objects, and thus miss out on a potentially very powerful tool. With Smart Objects you can create a complex transformation once and then swap out the contents for any artwork you choose. In this workshop, Photoshop artist and author Steve Caplin shows you how you can use Smart Objects to enhance almost all your Photoshop work. Learn to simplify and speed up repetitive tasks, and create templates that can be repurposed as many times as you wish.
In this lesson, we'll see how to turn a standard photograph into one that looks like it has been lying around in someones attic for generations. And then we'll go on to turn the whole assembly into a single smart object. We've got two layers in this document so far. The original photograph, which is slightly smaller than the document itself, and this texture. And this is simply the scan of the end leaf of a page of an old book. Let's hide that one. The first thing we want to do is to make a frame of around this photograph to make it look more like an original old photograph.
Now the simplest way to do that you might think would be to use the Marquee tool and simply draw a frame around it. But the trouble here is that very hard to make it centered on top of the photograph. So you might say that looks about right but in fact the left side of the frame is wider than the right side and its difficult to get the 2 to work out correctly. So that's the select that, here's a much quicker way. We can load up our original photograph as a selection by holding Ctrl on a PC, Cmd on a Mac, and clicking on it's thumbnail. And when we do so, we can see the marching ants showing the edge of the selection.
If we go into Quick mask, and we can do this by pressing the icon on the bottom of the tool bar or simply pressing Q as a shortcut, this shows us the red area is unselected and the clear area is the selected area. And you can see the selected area exactly matches the original photograph. If we now go into free transform, our free transform handles now appear around the edge of the selected area. What this means, is that if we hold Alt on a PC, Option on a Mac, and drag one of the handles, it scales out from the center.
Because it scales from the center, we can be sure that the left and right are going to be symmetrical and the top and bottom are going to be symmetrical. So we can now set the size of our frame exactly as we wanted, hit Enter to apply the free transformation and hit Q to exit Quick mask. There's our new selection. We can make a new layer and call it back because it's the back of a photograph. And let's fill this, not with white, but with a very pale gray. So we select it and the shortcut for filling any selection with a foreground color is Alt + Del on a PC, Option + Del on a Mac and we can deselect. Let's move this behind our original photograph.
And there's our frame in place. Now, let's show our texture. We only want this texture to show up where it overlaps the back. So let's begin by allowing us to see the backing. We'll change the mode of this texture layer from Normal to Multiply. And this way, it'll darken up everything that's beneath it. Let's now scale it down, so that it matches that background. And we can do this approximately. Having ended Free Transform, and holding down the Alt key, PC, Option key on a Mac, to scale it from the center in exactly the same way as we drew the frame in the first place.
And let's leave it about there. Now we can see it's sticking out over the edges slightly. We want to get rid of that, so let's load the back as a selection. Once again, Cmd key on a Mac, Ctrl key on a PC and click on the thumbnail. We can now inverse that selection so everything else is selected and delete it from the textual layer. So there are our three layers, the backing, the original photograph and the texture layer. We can select all of these three layers by holding the Shift key down as we select each one in turn and we can now use Layer > Smart Objects > Convert To Smart Object.
And there it is. And it's always given the name of the top most layer of the layer set. If we want, we can change this, and we can call it, old photo. Just for the sake of convenience. By turning all three layers into a Smart Object, we'll be able to manipulate it as much as we wish without ever damaging the contents, and this can be of tremendous benefit.
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