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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.
Distorting smart objects to match a background image using Free Transform is only the beginning. We can make Photoshop create much more complex distortions for us automatically. In this lesson, we'll start by making a flag approximately match the photographed white flag we're workign with here. So, in this image, the flag, and on a separate layer from the background. And we can hide the flag to reveal the background layer beneath. If we hide the background, there is the flag by itself, just so we know what we're working with. On this layer, I have an American flag.
Let's start by making this into a smart object. So we can use the Ctrl key on a Mac, right-click on a PC, and choose Convert to Smart Object. Now, we only want this visible where it overlaps the flag layer beneath, so let's make a clipping mask from the Layer menu. Now, I'll be the first to admit this looks very unconvincing. We need to fix it. Well, it would help if we could see some of the flag through it. So let's change the mode of this layer, even though it's a smart object, to multiply.
And now, it will darken up what's beneath. We will now go into Free Transform. We can start by squeezing it up. So that the body of the flag fits the flag beneath. And now, we can go into Image Warp by clicking the button on the Options bar. We're now able to address the flag directly and grab all of these corners and bend them into a new position. Now, we can make the left-hand side work fairly well. At the bottom, the flag underneath waves up and down. But we can't do this with Image Warp because we simply don't have enough handles available.
All we can do is get the best guess that we can so far. Let's bring in this corner and make that match the shape of the flag, as well as we're able to do. And we can see the top of the stars starting to roll over the top of the flag here, and we'll say OK to that. Change the mode of our smart object to multiply is another way of making vector artwork look more like the real thing as it allows the texture beneath to show through.
And this is the first stage in creating an effective waving flag.
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