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Using Smart Filters

From: Photoshop CS4 Essential Training

Video: Using Smart Filters

Another way to add special effects to an image is to apply filters. When you do use filters, it almost always make sense to use them as Smart Filters, because Smart Filters are not destructive of the underlying photo layer and because they remain editable and can be reopened for tweaking at any time. There are many filters in Photoshop. Lot's of them are decorative only, but some can be used to simulate photo effects. In this movie, I'm going to apply a filter as a Smart Filter and that filter is the Gaussian Blur filter.

Using Smart Filters

Another way to add special effects to an image is to apply filters. When you do use filters, it almost always make sense to use them as Smart Filters, because Smart Filters are not destructive of the underlying photo layer and because they remain editable and can be reopened for tweaking at any time. There are many filters in Photoshop. Lot's of them are decorative only, but some can be used to simulate photo effects. In this movie, I'm going to apply a filter as a Smart Filter and that filter is the Gaussian Blur filter.

I am going to use it to simulate shallow depth of field in this photo. Shallow depth of field is often something that you accomplish in your camera by opening up the aperture to a wide F-stop, and that makes the image blurry in the background and to a lesser degree in the foreground, focusing attention on the subject. Since I didn't do that when I shot this photo I would like to do it now in Photoshop, using the Gaussian Blur filter as a Smart Filter. I am going to start by going to the Filter menu at the top of the screen and choosing Convert for Smart Filters.

I'll click OK at this warning and that turns the single layer in this file into a Smart Object and you can see that from this icon on the layer. I covered Smart Objects in another movie. So if you want to learn more about them, you can go back and listen to that movie. I am now going to add a filter to this Smart Object layer. I'll go to the Filter menu and I'm going down to Blur and I'm going to choose Gaussian Blur. In the Gaussian Blur Filter dialog box, there's only one slider, this Radius slider. If I drag this to the right, the image gets really blurry; if I drag it to the left it gets less blurry.

I am going to increase it just a bit. And as long as the Preview box is checked, I can see the effect on my image here. I'll say OK and now I can see beneath the photo layer, a sublayer for Smart Filters and below that another sublayer for the Gaussian Blur filter. Because the Gaussian Blur has been applied as a Smart Filter, it's not directly changing the pixels of this photo layer. And because it's a Smart Filter I can reopen it at anytime for more tweaking. So if I double-click it the Gaussian Blur dialog box opens again and I could change my Radius slider.

Notice that there is a white box on the Smart Filters sublayer. That box is a mask. Just like a layer mask or an adjustment layer mask, which I covered in other movies, I can paint in this mask with black, white, or gray to control where the filter appears in the image. I don't want the viewer itself to be blurry, so I'm going to click on this mask on the Smart Filter sublayer. I'm going to go over to the Toolbox to select by Brush tool. I am going to check that the paint in the foreground color box is black. And if it isn't, I'll press D and then X on the keyboard and then I'll move my brush over the viewer.

I think this brush is about the right size. If it weren't, I would use the right bracket key to make it bigger, the left bracket key to make it smaller. And I would make it a soft brush by holding the Shift key as I press the left bracket key. Now I am just going to paint with that soft black brush over the Viewer, and as I do I'm hiding it from this part of the image. Now you notice that I am painting down here at the bottom and I actually want the foreground of the image to be a little bit blurry, in order to simulate real in-camera depth of field.

So I'm going to go back over to the foreground and background colors and switch them, so that white is the color. And I'll just paint back in, a little bit of blurriness in the front. Then I'll go back to black paint. I am going to reduce the opacity of my brush so that it's painting with gray rather than black and I'm going to go over the porch area, which I want to make a little less blurry than the far background. So I think that does a pretty good job of simulating depth of field.

And I could paint some more here, if I wanted to tweak this. But we'll leave it as it is for now. I could show you what this mask looks like by clicking on the mask while holding down the Option key on a Mac or the Alt key on a PC. You can see where I've hidden the filter where the filter is partially showing through and in the white area where it's completely showing through. I'll Option+Click or Alt+Click again on that mask to see the image one more time. Because this is a Smart Filter, I not only can go back to re-edit it, I could turn off completely by clicking the eye icon here or I could take the whole thing and drag it to the trash without affecting the photo.

I also can add more Smart Filters. So as an example, if I go back to the Filter menu and I go down to Blur, I'll choose another blur this time, this Radial Blur. The Radial Blur is kind of a fun effect. You can make part of your image look like it's spinning around or you can make it look like it's zooming in. In this case, I'll do Spin and I'll click OK and you can see that it's taken the background and just makes it look like it's spinning. And this filter, just like the Gaussian Blur filter, is being affected by where I painted on that Smart Filter mask.

That's just one example of ways that you can use filters to alter an image. The really important thing to take home from this movie is the idea of Smart Filters, which offer a way for you to apply filters in a non-destructive way and in a way that you can go back and re-edit at anytime.

Show transcript

This video is part of

Image for Photoshop CS4 Essential Training
Photoshop CS4 Essential Training

103 video lessons · 67401 viewers

Jan Kabili
Author

 
Expand all | Collapse all
  1. 2m 31s
    1. Welcome
      1m 27s
    2. Using the example files
      1m 4s
  2. 25m 14s
    1. Touring the interface
      4m 25s
    2. Working with tabbed documents
      5m 15s
    3. Using tools efficiently
      3m 51s
    4. Arranging panels
      3m 53s
    5. Customizing keyboard shortcuts
      2m 50s
    6. Saving a custom workspace
      3m 0s
    7. Changing screen modes
      2m 0s
  3. 19m 3s
    1. Touring the Bridge interface
      6m 31s
    2. Opening images from Bridge
      1m 20s
    3. Reviewing images
      4m 42s
    4. Finding images
      6m 30s
  4. 44m 53s
    1. Setting preferences
      4m 23s
    2. Choosing color settings
      8m 11s
    3. Zooming and panning
      5m 27s
    4. Resizing and image resolution
      3m 17s
    5. Adding to the canvas
      2m 2s
    6. Rotating the canvas
      1m 44s
    7. Choosing color
      4m 49s
    8. Sizing a brush tip
      3m 4s
    9. Undoing and the History panel
      5m 0s
    10. Saving and file formats
      3m 29s
    11. Creating a file from scratch
      3m 27s
  5. 37m 58s
    1. Making geometric selections
      6m 14s
    2. Modifying selections
      4m 43s
    3. Combining selections
      3m 16s
    4. Using the Quick Selection tool
      5m 34s
    5. Refining selection edges
      4m 12s
    6. Using Quick Mask mode
      2m 18s
    7. Selecting with the improved Color Range command
      4m 32s
    8. Selecting with the Magnetic Lasso tool
      2m 28s
    9. Using the Background Eraser tool
      3m 7s
    10. Saving selections
      1m 34s
  6. 39m 56s
    1. Understanding layers
      5m 43s
    2. Creating layers
      5m 12s
    3. Working in the Layers panel
      2m 19s
    4. Locking layers
      4m 17s
    5. Working with multiple layers
      4m 6s
    6. Merging and flattening layers
      3m 55s
    7. Adding a shape layer
      4m 43s
    8. Basic layer masking
      4m 23s
    9. Using layer blend modes and opacity
      5m 18s
  7. 23m 19s
    1. Cropping
      3m 26s
    2. Straightening
      3m 17s
    3. Transforming
      4m 42s
    4. Working with Smart Objects
      6m 48s
    5. Using Content-Aware Scaling
      5m 6s
  8. 1h 10m
    1. Reading histograms
      4m 21s
    2. Using adjustment layers and the Adjustment panel
      6m 4s
    3. Adjusting tones with Levels
      7m 49s
    4. Limiting adjustments with layer masks
      5m 40s
    5. Using masks in the new Masks panel
      6m 9s
    6. Limiting adjustments by clipping
      3m 6s
    7. Adjusting with Shadow/Highlight
      5m 7s
    8. Adjusting with Curves
      7m 37s
    9. Adjusting with Hue/Saturation
      3m 42s
    10. Adjusting with Vibrance
      2m 16s
    11. Removing a color cast
      4m 26s
    12. Using the Black & White adjustment layer
      2m 39s
    13. Using the Dodge Burn and Sponge tools
      4m 11s
    14. Reducing noise
      2m 39s
    15. Sharpening
      4m 42s
  9. 38m 0s
    1. Using the Spot Healing Brush tool
      5m 17s
    2. Using the Healing Brush tool
      5m 51s
    3. Using the Patch tool
      4m 52s
    4. Using the Clone Stamp tool
      4m 8s
    5. Enhancing eyes
      9m 29s
    6. Changing facial structure
      5m 0s
    7. Softening skin
      3m 23s
  10. 44m 38s
    1. What's a raw image?
      4m 25s
    2. Touring the Camera Raw interface
      7m 35s
    3. Working in the Basic panel
      7m 54s
    4. Working in the Tone Curve panel
      2m 21s
    5. Working in the HSL/Grayscale and Split Toning panels
      3m 46s
    6. Looking at the other Camera Raw panels
      3m 45s
    7. Using the Adjustment Brush tool
      4m 2s
    8. Using the Graduated Filter tool
      3m 56s
    9. Working with multiple files
      6m 54s
  11. 21m 6s
    1. Using the Brushes panel
      8m 30s
    2. Filling with color
      3m 49s
    3. Replacing color
      4m 14s
    4. Using gradients
      4m 33s
  12. 16m 55s
    1. Working with point type
      9m 59s
    2. Working with paragraph type
      3m 17s
    3. Warping text
      3m 39s
  13. 25m 23s
    1. Adding a layer style
      4m 6s
    2. Customizing a layer style
      3m 35s
    3. Copying a layer style
      3m 5s
    4. Creating a new style
      3m 32s
    5. Using Smart Filters
      5m 22s
    6. Working in the Filter Gallery
      5m 43s
  14. 13m 14s
    1. Auto-blending focus
      4m 47s
    2. Creating Photomerge panoramas
      4m 2s
    3. Combining group photos
      4m 25s
  15. 23m 27s
    1. Creating an action
      7m 16s
    2. Batch processing with an action
      6m 36s
    3. Using the Image Processor
      9m 35s
  16. 29m 20s
    1. Printing
      11m 32s
    2. Making a contact sheet from Bridge
      6m 12s
    3. Creating a web gallery from Bridge
      7m 17s
    4. Preparing photos for the web
      4m 19s
  17. 30s
    1. Goodbye
      30s

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