In addition to the layer group method that I showed in the last movie, there is another way to limit the layers that are affected by an adjustment layer, and that is to group an adjustment layer along with the layers that you want it to affect into a Smart Object. The adjustment layer will affect only the layers that are part of that Smart Object, rather than all of the layers beneath it in the Layers panel, which is the default behavior of an adjustment layer. This is a good method to use, if you want an adjustment layer to affect more than one but not all the layers in a file, and you're going to want to resize or otherwise transform the adjusted layers as well. I'm starting here with a file that has four image layers in it.
I'd like to add an adjustment layer that affects the top three layers here in the Layers panel. The love graphic layer, which contains this heart shaped graphic of the word love, the dot graphic layer, which contains this flower shaped dotted graphic and the candy box layer, which contains this photograph of a candy box. But I don't want my adjustment layer to affect the photograph of the model on the image layer. I have the love graphic layer selected at the top of the layer stack and I'm going to come in and add an adjustment layer. I'm just going to use one of the preset adjustments, and I'll use one for the Hue/Saturation adjustment layer, by clicking the arrow on the left side of the Hue/Saturation Presets in the Icon view of the Adjustments panel. Then I'll scroll down and I'm going to choose Sepia.
That adds a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer in the Layers panel and it's changed the content of all the layers below that adjustment layer to a Sepia tone. [00:01:34.0] It's also changed the Adjustments panel to show the controls for a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer. I won't be addressing those in this movie, but I'll be covering them in detail in a later movie in this course. Now how am I going to limit the Sepia toning to just the love graphic, the dot graphic and the candy box layers? I'm going to do that by including all of those layers along with this Hue/Saturation adjustment layer in a Smart Object.
So my first step is to select all those layers. I already have the Hue/Saturation adjustment layer selected. To select all the layers in between that and the candy box layer, I'll hold down the Shift key and click on the candy box layer, and now I have all four of those layers selected. To make a Smart Object out of those four layers, I'm going to go to the panel menu on the right side of the Layers panel, click there and choose Convert to Smart Object. That takes all four layers and creates a Smart Object from them.
A Smart Object basically takes those layers and embeds them deep inside this file, leaving in there instead this Smart Object layer which happens to be named Hue/Saturation. You can see on the thumbnail for this Smart Object layer, this symbol, which indicates that it is a Smart Object. Importantly, if you look at the image, you can see that the Sepia toning on the Hue/Saturation adjustment layer is affecting just the image layers that have been embedded with that adjustment layer inside of this Smart Object.
So we could just leave it at that, but let's say that I want to edit my adjustment layer, just like I could edit any adjustment layer in the Layers panel. If I look at the Layers panel, I can't see that adjustment layer. So where do I go to edit it? To do that, I have to open up the Embedded Smart Object. To open that Smart Object, I'm going to go to the Smart Object layer and Double-click the thumbnail on that layer. I'll click OK at the prompt, and notice that there is now a second file open in my document window. And it's got the extension PSB rather than PSD, which is the extension on this original document right here.
So, with that PSB file active in the document window, I can see that in the Layers panel, I now have available to me my original Hue/Saturation adjustment layer, as well as the three image layers that I included with it in this Smart Object. So, I can edit this Hue/Saturation adjustment layer in the normal way. If I select that layer up in the Adjustments panel, I have all the controls to edit this adjustment layer. I'm just going to go up to the Preset menu for this Hue/Saturation adjustment layer, click on it, and I'm going to choose a different preset. I'll choose Cyanotype instead of Sepia.
As soon as I do that, the content of all the layers beneath the Hue/Saturation adjustment layer that are embedded in this Smart Object have been changed to a Blue or Cyanotype color. That includes the content of the candy box layer, the dot graphic layer and the love graphic layer. The next step is to save this modified Smart Object and I have to save in exactly the same place. So the easiest way to do that is just to go to the File menu and choose Save. Then I'll go to the document window and I'll click on the X on this tab for the PSD document and that closes it. And now I'm back in my original PSD or Photoshop Document, with the changes that I made to that adjustment layer are affecting all of the content in the Smart Object, but not the content on the image layer below.
Now you remember that the motivation for converting these layers to a Smart Object layer was primarily to limit the effect of the adjustment layer to just those layers. But a Smart Object offers another advantage. Because a Smart Object is just a proxy for the actual layers embedded in it, you can resize a Smart Object or perform other Transform operations on it as many times as you want without degrading the image quality. That isn't true of pixel-based layers. So, for example, if this photograph of the candy box were not a Smart Object, but just a regular pixel-based layer, I couldn't transform it up and then down more than once or it would start to look really degraded. But because it's part of this Smart Object, I can do exactly that. So let me show you that, by making sure that I have my Smart Object layer selected in the Layers panel, and then going up to the Edit menu and I'll go down to Transform and then Scale.
That brings up this bounding box with anchor points and I'm going to move my mouse over to bottom right corner. I'll hold down my Shift key to constrain proportions, and I'm going to click-and- drag to make the content of this Smart Object smaller. Then I can also click inside of this bounding box and move all that content wherever I want it in the image, and when I'm done, I'll accept that transform by going up to the Options bar and clicking the checkmark. Now you'll notice that all of this content still looks good and it will look good if I resize it up again. So again, with the Hue/Saturation Smart Object layer selected, I'll go back to Edit and this time I'll just choose Free Transform, which is another option to do the same thing. I'll move my mouse over the bottom left anchor point, hold down the Shift key to constrain proportions and drag to make that content bigger again.
My only constraint is that I don't want to make it larger than 100%, because you don't want to resize up larger than the original size of an image. Then finally, I'll click this checkmark in the Options bar and you can see that my content still looks great. So if you want an adjustment layer to affect more than one but not all the layers beneath it in an image, and you also want the freedom to resize and transform the adjusted layers over and over, try using this Smart Object method of confining the effect of an adjustment layer.
Get unlimited access to all courses for just $25/month.Become a member
117 Video lessons · 43169 Viewers
119 Video lessons · 54430 Viewers
65 Video lessons · 14639 Viewers
113 Video lessons · 82950 Viewers
Access exercise files from a button right under the course name.
Search within course videos and transcripts, and jump right to the results.
Remove icons showing you already watched videos if you want to start over.
Make the video wide, narrow, full-screen, or pop the player out of the page into its own window.
Your file was successfully uploaded.