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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.
For those of you who had only the dimmest comprehension of what in the world I was gushing on about at the end of previous exercise. Here is what I'm talking about. I have gone ahead and saved my progress so far as Density mask.psd, and I've got this Smart Object right here called Smart Girl. We've got a trio of Smart Filters assigned to it with one filter mask, and that's all you got folks. You've got one filter mask for a group of smart filters and you can have only one group of Smart Filters per Smart Object. You can't create sort of splitter group, so Smart Filters are going off in different directions with different filter masks.
That might actually be a really great idea, but it's not an option inside of Photoshop. So if you want to assign a different filter that's using a different filter mask, that's the important part. Then you are going to have to create a nested Smart Object, and that is the purpose and intention of this exercise. So I want to apply Gaussian Blur to just the highlights and the light mid-tones inside this image whereas all my other filters are masked off, so that they are only affecting the shadows and dark mid -tones inside the image. So I need an entirely different opposite filter mask.
So here is what you do. You go ahead and select your Smart Object in progress and you go up to your Layers palette fly-out menu right there, and you choose this command Convert to Smart Object. A Smart Object is a container. So we've got the image inside of a Smart Object container with a group of Smart Filters assigned to it. Now, we are going to take that cluster of junk and put it into a Smart Object container. So we can assign a different filter to it with a different filter mask. So here it goes. As soon as I choose that command, notice all my Smart Filters appear to go away. I still have a Smart Object right there and it's still called Smart Girl, but my Smart Filters are a thing of the past.
Well, obviously they are not, because the image looks exactly the same as it did before. So the Smart Filters must still be operational. They haven't been flattened or merged or rasterized or any of that stuff. If you double-click on the Smart Girl thumbnail right there, then you will enter this thing called Smart girl1.psb, which is this temporary Smart Object document. Therein, you will find our missing filters, there they all are, still extent, and our density mask. So everything is hunky-dory. So just go ahead and close out of this image. We don't need to mess with it.
Let's go back to our larger composition that contains the nested Smart Object and now we are going to go up to the Filter menu and we are going to choose Blur and we are going to choose Gaussian Blur. Then I'm going to apply a big old radius value of 20 pixels, and I'll click OK. Now, at this point I think okay, I want to take advantage of that. So I'll double-click on the slider icon right there, and I'll change the blend mode from Normal to Overlay, like so. And that's it. I'll click OK. Now, it's a ridiculous effect at this point. Bear in mind, I'm only going to be affecting the highlight detail, not the shadows. The shadows are the stuff that's just going to heck right now. That's okay. Click OK in order to accept that modification.
Now, we need to assign a luminance mask and I'll tell you the easiest way to create a luminance mask is to take this existing filter mask. It doesn't have anything going on in it, and throw it away. Just go ahead and select it. You can either drag it to the Trash Can like so, and then release it and it goes away. That's one way to get rid of it. Another way is to Alt-click or Option-click on that Trash Can icon while the filter mask is active. It will go blink away without bugging you. Or, and this possibly is the easiest thing to do. Just right-click on that mask. That would be Ctrl-click if you don't have a right mouse button on the Mac and then Choose Delete Filter Mask, and it will go away.
That's just because it's easier to recreate it than work with it already there when you are creating a luminance mask. Now, I'm going to turn off Smart Filters, and also notice everything takes up less room as well without that filter mask. I will turn off the Smart Filters. I'll go to the Channels palette, I'll Ctrl-click or Command-click on the Red channel in order to load it as a selection outline. I'll return to the Layers palette, I'll turn on Smart Filters, I'll right-click on the Smart Filters item, and I'll choose Add Filter Mask. Again, if you don't have a right mouse button on the Mac, you'd press the Ctrl key and click, and that limits the effect to just the highlight detail.
So big difference, if I Shift-click in order to turn the mask off and then Shift-click again to turn the mask on, you can see huge difference now and notice the thumbnail here. It's just an exact copy of the Red channel. That's all it is. Then here is what the image looks like without that heaping of Gaussian Blur, and this is what it looks like with this latest heaping of Gaussian Blur. I think it looks a lot better. I think we are incrementally making better and better modifications to this image. So that's how you use nested Smart Objects. Now, what if you try applying a filter and then you figure out that you need a different filter mask and then you nest your Smart Object and then you want to retrieve the filter and put it back in the other place. Basically, you want to work between your image files.
What do you do? Well, I'll show you how that works and it will make a lot more sense by the time we are done of course in the next exercise.
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