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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.
A great benefit of applying filters to Smart Objects is that the filters come with a Layer Mask built in. Unlike a regular Layer Mask, this doesn't affect the transparency of the layer itself, but selectively hides and shows the affect of all the filters. Let's see how we can use this to our advantage to make these crude members just that bit more visible. Here are our crew members. As we can see, they're a Smart Object, and here are all the three filters we applied. Now, if we click on the Mask, and this comes automatically, when we make a new Smart Object and add filters to it, we can see it can't be white.
And that means that the entire filter effect is visible. We can selectively hide part of this layer by painting in black on this mask. So, let's switch over our foreground and background colors, so we're painting with black. And the easiest way to do this is simply press the X key on your keyboard. So, let's switch to the Brush tool, let's choose a Soft-edged brush and we can re-size this to make it bigger using Photoshop CS4, Photoshop CS5.
It's easy to do this by holding down the Ctrl and Option keys on a Mac, right mouse button out key on a PC. So, let's zoom in so that we can see these figures more clearly. At the moment, they are completely swamped by these three filters we've applied. If we paint in black on them, we can start on the bottom. And as we paint, you can see the effect being hidden. What's important to notice here is that the mask is applied to the filters only and is not affecting the visibility of the crew members themselves.
We can paint further up, and painting with a lower opacity will enable us to partly hide the filter effect. Now, I'm using a pressure-sensitive tablet here, and that gives me the ability to paint with a lower opacity simply by pressing less hard with the pen. If you're using a regular mouse, you can change the opacity in several ways. You can drag on the Opacity slider, so if we drag down to say, around about 50%, then when we paint now, we'll paint at 50% opacity.
And so, we'll hide the effect to 50% of its original strength. Let me undo that. A quicker way to change the opacity for mouse users is simply to press the number keys on your keyboard. So, we might press 4, and we get 40%. If we press 8, we get 80% all the way up to 0 to get back to 100%. And if we want intermediate values such as 45%, we can just press 4 and 5 in rapid succession, and there is our 45% opacity.
A very quick way of changing the opacity of your brush, which is particularly useful when working with Layer Masks or kinds. So, we're going to go back to this. I'm going to set the opacity back to 100% because, as I say, I'm using a graphics tablet. And as we drag up, we can choose to reveal as much of the crew members as we need in order to make them look more like they're beaming down on here. I'm going for the effect of them being stronger at the bottom, so less of a filter effect, and more of the filter effect showing at the top.
Painting on the Mask allowed us to hide the filter effect selectively. And this is a technique that just isn't possible with a regular Photoshop layer. This is just another example of the power of Smart Objects.
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