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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 a previous exercise, I used a Refine Edge command, in order to trim away the light halos that were tracing the model's face. But in doing so, I have made my edges less distinct, which is why I have gone ahead and saved my changes as Indistinct layer mask.psd, found inside the 01 how they work folder. Not only that, but some of my details just don't make any sense. Some stuff just is just bad, like up here, in the hair detail, this gooey stuff right there. But, notice down here on the chin, I am going to go ahead and zoom in.
You can see that the jaw line makes a lot of sense next to the neck, until we lose the neck. And then also and it cuts in and traces, like so, around the chin and it's a lot blurrier as well. And people's chins just don't do that. So what are we going to do to reestablish that good detail? Well, we're going to take advantage of a trick that works just great when you have a portrait shot, in particular, but really any object shot against a white background. So this is a really great way to drop away white and keep the darker colors.
And here's what you do. Click on a Smart Object layer to make it active. I am going to go ahead and collapse my Masks palette, so I have little more room to work. And we want to make a copy of this layer. And I was telling you, at the outset of this chapter, that one of the great things about Smart Objects is if you create a copy of a Smart Object you create a clone back to that original embedded image and here's how you do it. You select that Smart Object layer that you want to copy. You go up to the layer menu. This is one way to work. Go to New and then choose this command, layer via Copy.
Now, that's the method for chumps, in my opinion, because there's a much better way. If you just memorize the keyboard shortcut, you're much better off. I am going to go ahead and escape out of there. You press Ctrl+Alt+J. Basically it's like this. Ctrl+J, for jump. It goes ahead and creates a copy of the layer. Ctrl+Alt+J forces the display of the New Layer dialog box. So you can name the layer as you make it. On the Mac, that's Command+J. In order to jump the layer that's Command+Option+J to force the display of the new Layer dialog box. So I am going to press Ctrl+Alt+J, Command+Option+J on a Mac. There's the New Layer dialog box.
I am going to call this guy 'multiply'. And that will make sense in just a moment. Click OK, and you now have a layer called 'multiply'. I want to move it below the original like so, so I'll just drag it down and then I don't want this layer mask. Now I could just turn it off by Shift+Clicking on it. So you can turn layer masks off by Shift+Clicking, by the way. I don't want to do that because they do take up room inside the file. It's another 8-bit image. Essentially, a grayscale image. And if you don't need it, you don't need it. It's just a direct copy of this pixel image layer right there.
So let's go ahead and turn it back on by Shift+Clicking on it. And then I am going to drag that layer mask down to the Trashcan. If you get a warning, click the Delete button, not apply, click Delete and you'll just get rid of it, like so. All right, so that reestablished the entire image right there. I am going to turn off my Smart Object layer for just a moment so that we can see the multiply layer. It is a direct copy, just unmasked at this point, so it looks the same as it ever did, several exercises ago before we started masking it. Here's what we're going to do. Because she's set against a white background, we can drop out that white background and it is pure white, by the way, so it's going to drop out beautifully.
You can drop out white inside Photoshop, using a special blend mode here. So I'll switch from Normal to this guy right there, Multiply, one of the great blend modes inside of Photoshop. So I'll choose Multiply and notice white drops away, and she appears dark against the new background. So it's as if we've laid one slide on top of another. So you might think of her as being an acetate overlay and she's laid directly on top of the sky in the background. And so white completely drops out of sight, the dark details remain, and what that means now for as if we, turn a smart object layer back on.
Notice we do have these edges now. We do have these dark edges that are tracing around the woman's face and they are doing a nice job of defining the boundaries between the model and her background. Now there are little bit too much, so we still need to apply some additional refinement and we've got this weird lumpy back going. We have got some chin that needs a little bit of work and I am going to show you how to address those problems, manually, in the next exercise.
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