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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.
All right. So here's the results of having multiplied in my edges, which is why I've gone ahead and saved this version of the image as Multiplied edges.psd, go figure, found inside the 01_how_they_work folder. Just so you can see the contribution that's being made by this multiply layer. It's very essential. I'll go ahead and turn it off for a moment, and then you can see these blurry edges, particularly around the chin, for example, here. That's what it looked like before, at the onset of the previous exercise. This is how it looks now, not perfect. We'll make some adjustments down here, but pretty darn good.
Check out the hair detail though. This is the thing that's absolutely amazing. This is without the multiplied version of the image, looks pretty terrible at this point. We don't have those bright highlights around the edges, which is a good thing, but we're also just plain missing the edge detail. But when I turn multiply back on, everything is reinstated. It's looking absolutely gorgeous. All right. So, what are we going to do down here in order to take care of a couple of problems? One is this chin transition is nothing to write home about, so it needs a little bit of work.
The other thing is we've got this sort of bad back going on right here. It's all weird and lumpy and just doesn't seem to be representative at all. Well, in both of these cases, we need to paint with the Brush tool. We need to make some manual modifications. And rule of thumb here is make as few brush strokes as possible, because the more brush strokes you add, then the more you're going to have to add in order to compensate for the other ones, and it gets to be something of a vicious cycle. So, if you can figure out how to just click and maybe click and Shift+Click, couple of times inside of a mask to get things right.
It's all about getting your brush set up right in the first place. So, here's what I'm going to do. I'm going to select my Brush tool. I'm going to have the ghostbusters icon because I have the multiply layer selected, which is that clone of the Smart Object. So I now have two Smart Object layers that are both referencing a single embedded image inside of this larger composition. You'll see how that works in the next chapter. We're going to see what the advantage of having these multiple instances is. But for now, what I'm going to do is just go ahead and click on the top Smart Object layer, and actually, I clicked on its layer Mask thumbnail, because that's what we need to change here.
We need to refine that layer mask. Now you can see that I've got my brush ready and willing to work for me. All right. So if I switched, in my case, to white, I want the foreground color to be white, because I want to paint in the chin. If I just start painting, like so, you can see that I get this big highlight underneath the chin. While it's interesting, it's not representative. It's not what I want it to be. So I'll go ahead and undo that modification. Now, I could make my brush nice and hard, which would eliminate that glow effect there, so I'll go ahead and increase the Hardness to 100%.
But if I do that, and I try to paint along the chin, notice I get these little lumps going. That's what's known as brush spacing. Basically, when you're painting a brush stroke, you're not painting a smooth line. You're painting a bunch of dollops of paint, a bunch of circles. You can adjust that inside the Brushes palette. You can adjust the spacing, but you're still not going to get what you need out of this tool here. We don't want a bunch a lumps. That's not right. Besides, everything is too hard edged. I'll go ahead and zoom in there. We've got all these little hard edges going on. That's not right.
If I press Shift+Left bracket, which is the typical method for reducing the hardness of the brush. It actually takes the brush hardness value down to 75%. Then I try to click in here. You can see that the brush is too soft. So we've got the too-hard brush on one side, we've got the too soft-brush on the other side. Let's go ahead and undo that modification. What we want is to dial in our own custom hardness value, and I'm going to set this to 90%. Then let's go ahead and click and try to paint, and things look better, but we still have those little lumps going.
But now I'm painting too far out, so that's not looking right. The better thing to do is try to create a brush that's about the right size to fit the entire chin. What I did was I went ahead and click this down-pointing arrowhead and I changed his Master Diameter value to 220 pixels and then pressed the Enter key a couple of times, the Return key in the Mac a couple of times in order to accept that value. Now you might wonder, "Where in a world do I get a value of 220?" Trial and error. I just kept trying different values until I ended up with something that looked like this, that more or less filled the chin here.
Then I clicked, like so, in order to paint that chin white, like that. Just a couple of clicks ends up doing the trick. It's not exactly spot on there, but it looks almost exactly. I mean, that's basically the idea. We're not going to get a precise match right there, but once we're zoomed out and once we print the image, it's going to look great. Now then, this also happens to work for the back detail. I'm going to click right at this location there. Then I'm going to Shift+Click at this location.
What Photoshop is going to do is trace those two points with a straight line. I'm going to try it again, actually, because I don't think I Shift+Clicked high enough. I'm going to click here, and then I'm going to Shift+Click down here. That ends up doing the trick pretty nicely. We're revealing a little bit of a highlight at that point. If I wanted to get rid of it, I could reduce the size of my cursor, like so, press the X key to switch the foreground color to black. I could paint like this. I could click here, and then I could Shift+Click here. Again, by clicking and Shift+Clicking, you're painting with a straight line of Now you can make some more modifications if you want to. You could sort of paint whatever color you're using.
In the case of that last brush stroke, I was painting with black. That's it. in the ear there, if you wanted to a little bit and so on. But I am feeling like this is looking great. The only other modification I want to make to this composition is I want to trim off the edges down here at the bottom and the top. But I want to do so without eliminating a single pixel inside my image. And I'm going to show you how that works in the next exercise.
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