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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.
This Smart Object consists of three separate layers: the backing, the photograph itself, and the Texture layer above. Because all three have been combined into a single Smart Object, it appears as a single layer in the Layers panel. Only the icon in the corner of the thumbnail here indicates that it's Smart Object. And because it appears as a single layer, Photoshop is going to allow us to treat it as if it really is a single layer. What we're going to do here is to adjust this image so it look like it's been photographed in perspective, live on a table.
We can start the process by going to Edit and Free Transform. Now the first thing I want to do is to make it smaller. So I'm going to grab one of these corner handles, and just drag it down. And there's no need to hold the Shift key to maintain proportions because we're going to play around with it so much the original proportion's are almost irrelevant. Let's move it into the middle of the page and rotate it slightly. So what I want to do now is to make it look as if its lying on this surface. To do this we need to adjust each of these handles individually to produce a prospective distortion. Let's begin by holding the Cmd key on a Mac.
Ctrl key on a PC. And grabbing this top handle, and there's the beginnings of our perspective. That's a bit too extreme, so let's grab the opposite handle and bring this back a little bit. And we can carry on, tinkering with each of these corners until we get a true effect of this lying in perspective. Let's make the whole thing slightly larger. And rotate it a little more. And there it is lying on the surface. And we can press enter to apply that transformation.
The next thing I want to do is to apply a shadow to this. Now we could use layer styles to apply an Automatic Drop shadow. But what I want is to apply a shadow that will match the exact shape of this object even when we distort it later. And we can do this in two stages. First we'll load it as a selection. We do this by holding Cmd on a Mac, Ctrl on a PC, and clicking the thumbnail and that loads this layer at a selection. The second stage is to make a new layer. Call it shadow.
Set the foreground color to black, and the shortcut for this is the DT, and now, fill with the foreground color. And with any selection in Photoshop to with the foreground color, you use option Delete on a Mac, Out Delete on a PC. And we'll deselect. There's our basic shadow. We want to soften it up slightly, so let's use Filter > Blur > and Gaussian blur, and let's drag the radius up until we get a nice soft edge to our shadow, around about eight pixels seems to do it. We will drag the shadow behind our photo.
Use the Move tool to drag it down a little way and lower the opacity. And let's lower the opacity to around 50%. And there is our object, more or less lying on top of the shadow. Because the original here, that we're working with, is a Smart Object and not a regular layer, we're able to distort it as much as we want without ever damaging the contents. All the original layers are stored within the Smart Object itself.
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