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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.
I've created this magazine cover using multiple layers, and all those layers have been combined into a single Smart Object. Let's now see how we can distort that Smart Object to fit the space on the cover in our model's hand. Well, first of all, we want to limit the visibility of this Smart Object to the layer beneath. And this layer, if we isolate it, we can see is just the cover of a magazine on its own. And the quickest way to do this is to take this Smart Object and choose Layer > Create Clipping Mask.
What that does is it means this layer is only visible where it overlaps the layer underneath. Let's move it over so they can see that more clearly. Now, we can see here, there's a very, very faint white edge to the layer beneath, and that's due to the way we made this in the first place. We can fix that by going to our underlying layer, choosing a small, hard-edge brush and painting in to extend the size of this underlying layer.
By making this slightly larger, we're able to ensure that none of that white shows through. And there, it is complete. Now, let's distort our cover. We'll go back to the Smart Object and choose FreeTransform. We'll need to Zoom out to see the handles. So first of all, we'll make a basic transformation. We'll make it smaller and rotate it. If we get the left edge lined up with the spine, let's now Zoom in, grab the opposite handle and here, I'm holding down Cmd key on a Mac, Ctrl key on a PC to move just that handle.
And now, we can make it fit the magazine rather better. Now, what 's happening here is you can see that the edges of our selection don't quite match the edges of the magazine itself. And we can see why that is. If we say OK to commit to the transformation, when we double-click the Smart Object, as it opens up, you can see there's a little space around the edges, and that's due to the way we made the text.
Well, it's easy enough now to use the Crop tool. We can drag it just within that Mona Lisa area and we can click within that or hit Enter to apply that crop. When we now save this and go back into FreeTransform, we can see those edges now perfectly match the edges of our picture. So, let's move this back up and I can hold the Cmd key on a Mac, Ctrl key on a PC, to move each of these edges exactly as we want them.
We might want to get a bit of a cull on this to match the slight cull on the cover. Well, that's easy to do, we can switch into Image Warp mode and now we can add our transformation just by dragging these handles. So, it's like culled out on the bottom here. And there's our cover, now fitting. So, let's hit Enter to apply that transformation. Now, there was some shading on the original, if I hide this, on the original cover, we want that to come through onto our magazine.
And that is easy to do by grabbing our layer, holding down Option on a Mac, Alt on a PC, and dragging a copy of it above. If we change the mode of this from Normal to Multiply, what's going to happen is our cover will darken up what's underneath it, but we can see a small problem here. We paint it in white to extend the cover, but it wasn't white to start with. That's easy to fix. Let's switch to the Brush tool, and we'll choose a soft-edge brush. We can sample this gray color by holding down Alt on the PC, Option on a Mac, and we can paint over the edge.
The problem here, is it's painting right over the edges of the magazine. Let's Undo that. If we've locked the Transparency, we can now paint on it, and it won't go over the edges of the original magazine cover space. So, when we change the mode of this from Normal to Multiply, that shading now appears underneath it as it should. And we can't see very clearly on this cover, because it's very dark at the bottom anyway.
So, we've seen how we can distort a magazine to fit into a predefined space and how we can us a Clipping Mask to make it fit that space precisely. Because we did this all this to a Smart Object, the entire contents of our cover remain editable and that's a huge bonus.
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