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Photoshop Smart Objects explores the creation and use of Smart Objects, one of the most technically demanding tools in Photoshop. Deke McClelland walks through the four primary purposes of Smart Objects, and focuses on one of their most practical advantages, non-destructive transformations. This feature allows any object to be manipulated in any way, while still maintaining its original pixel information. Finally, Deke shows how to crop compositions without affecting a single pixel, even in masks. Exercise files accompany this course.
Download Deke's customized keyboard layouts and color settings for Photoshop from the Exercise Files tab.
In this exercise, I am going to introduce you to the two, what I'm calling non-filters inside of Photoshop. Really truly they are filters, but they don't live under the Filter menu and they don't appear at the top of the Filter menu when you get done applying them. Instead, they live under the Image Adjustments sub-menu and I will show you those in just a second. But first of all, notice that I'm working inside this image called High Pass for clarity.psd. It's found inside the 06_filter_ masks folder and it is that image from photographer Felix Mizioznikov of image vendor Fotolia, about which you can learn more at fotolia.com/deke and this is that exact point at which we left off in Chapter05.
So, I have gone ahead and converted the image to a Smart Object. You can see that I've applied the Median filter with a Radius of 6 pixels actually, for what that's worth and I set the blend mode to Color, and then I applied the High Pass filter, at least this is the order in which the filters are applied here to the image. There is the High Pass filter with a radius value of 40 pixels and a blend mode setting of Soft Light. The result is clarity as opposed to sharpness inside of his image. Now let's say I want to breathe some life into the shadow detail, much as if I had employed a fill flash in advance when I captured the photograph, which I did not of course.
It came from a different photographer. Or used a balance card or something along those lines. How do we do it in post? Well, we apply the shadows highlight non-filter, if you will. So, what you do is you go up to the Image menu. Notice that the Smart Object is selected, here inside the Layers palette. Choose Adjustments and notice that you have just two commands available to you, Shadows/Highlights and Variations. What about the others? Well, you can't apply any of the dimmed out commands because they're static color adjustments, meaning that they operate on the pixels inside the image and we don't have access to the pixels inside the image right now, because they are enclosed inside the Smart Object container.
So, they are protected from these commands right here. Also worth noting, every one of these commands from Brightness/Contrast down to Selective Color, this entire list of commands is available in exactly this order as an adjustment layer. So, if you go over to the Layers palette, and you click on the black and white icon right there, you'll see starting with Brightness/Contrast, not with Solid Color. These guys are your dynamic fills. Solid Color, Gradient and Pattern. Then starting with Brightness/ Contrast we come to our adjustment layers. So, Brightness/Contrast all the way down to Selective Color, in exactly the same order we saw them just a moment ago inside of the Adjustment sub-menu.
And these are applicable to Smart Object because you can apply adjustment layers to Smart Objects here inside Photoshop. However, notice that the next two commands, which are Shadows/Highlights and Variations, are missing from the list. So everything after Selective Color is missing from the list. And by the way, all of these also are available inside the Adjustments palette here inside Photoshop CS4 in that same order once again. Brightness/Contrast, then we move to Levels, Curves, Exposure all the way down to this guy, Selective Color. All the icons, all commands, all in exactly the same order for what it's worth.
All right though, if I go up to Image and I choose Adjustments, we don't have these guys Desaturate, Match Color, Replace Color or Equalize. They are not available as adjustment layers, nor can they be applied to Smart Objects. They can be applied to the pixels inside the Smart Object, if you like, but none of them are commands you are going to miss them much. Match Color is sometimes useful, but whatever. These guys though, they are very useful and they are ultimately the non-filters I am talking about that can be applied to a Smart Object. So, if you choose Shadows/Highlights for example, then you are going to get the Shadows/Highlights dialog box.
Let's say I just decide to accept the default value, which breathes a ton of life into the shadows. So, it really brightens that shadow information. It doesn't do anything to the highlights; it just leaves those alone, by default. We can change this later, if we want to. And you click OK in order to accept the modification and you'll now see Shadows/Highlights listed here inside the Layers palette as a Smart Filter. It will not appear at the top of the Filter menu though. You will not be able to repeat that filter or press Control+F or Command+F or any of that stuff to repeat the filter either. However, you can still modify the settings associated with that filter as we will do in the very next exercise.
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