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When people ask me what my favorite feature of Photoshop is, I always have two answers, the first of which is layers, because layers are the most useful thing that's ever been added to Photoshop, and the second one is always Smart Objects. Smart Objects are a way of encapsulating the photo or object that you're working on inside of a protective shell so that you can then work on them in a nondestructive way. Running filters, manipulating, scaling, whatever you want to do to it, you can pretty much do by utilizing Smart Objects.
In this movie, I am going to be exploring how to utilize Smart Objects inside of Photoshop to create more flexible graphics and work nondestructively at all times. So I am working on a file here that's kind of a mockup for an application splash screen. And so I am going to be utilizing the background elements that I have here, as well as this text at the bottom, and I am also going to be incorporating some artwork that I created inside of Adobe Illustrator. And so, right here on the background, the first thing I want to do is I want to add a little bit of texture to the background, but I don't necessarily want this to be a destructive change.
I want to be able to turn it on and off if I send it to the client and they don't like it. So, what I am going to do is first unlock the Background layer by double-clicking out to the right-hand side of it. That's going to unlock it. And I am just going to call this Sky, and I will hit OK. Now, once I've done that, I need to convert this into a Smart Object. There are a couple of ways that you can do that. You can right-click the layer and you can choose Convert to Smart Object or you can go to Filter and choose Convert for Smart Filters. Either way, you're creating a Smart Object inside of Photoshop.
Let's go ahead and take a look at what I mean. I will right-click the layer and choose Convert to Smart Object. When I do that, you're going to notice that this little icon appears on top of the layer thumbnail, indicating that it is now a Smart Object. Basically, I have a protective coating around this background layer that enables me to do things to it without actually affecting the pixel values underneath. Whereas before, if I had added texture or grain or whatever it is that I am going to run in the Filters menu through this object before, it would have really altered the pixel value and made it impossible for me to get back to the normal state later on.
So let's go ahead and run a filter on this Background layer. I will go to Filter and I am going to go down and choose a new filter called Oil Paint inside of Photoshop. I'm just going to give it a little bit of texture. And so now I am going to come in and just kind of manipulate these settings. It really doesn't matter which ones you choose, as long as you give it a little bit of texture in the background. I will kind of dial this down a little bit, something kind of like that.
So right now my Stylization is at 1.98, my Cleanliness 4.9, Scale is at 0.35, Bristle Detail at 1.95, Angular Direction is 104.4, and my Shine is down to 0.85. Again, totally up to you, but this just gives me a subtle change in texture in the background, so I'll hit OK. Once I do that, you'll see the texture has been applied to that layer, and I also see over here on the right-hand side that I have a new Smart Filter applied to this. I can mask out the Smart Filter utilizing this built-in mask.
I can also at any time I want come in and adjust the Oil Paint settings by finding the word Oil Paint and double-clicking. That takes me back into the filter. So if I wanted to change the Angular Direction of this again, something like that, and maybe bump up the Shine a little bit, hit OK, it automatically updates for me when that comes back out. Now, if I don't think that I like this, that's okay. I can simply remove the Smart Filter by finding it, clicking on it, and dragging it to the trashcan, and it's automatically removed.
Let's say, though, I want to undo this, Command+Z or Ctrl+Z. Let's say I want to make a change to the Background layer itself, the actual blue background. How do I make a change to that? I'll come over here and I'll double- click on the icon, and it opens it up. I will hit Don't show again because basically all this is doing is telling me I am about to open a Smart Object. When you're finished, you need to save it in order to commit to the change. So you just hit OK and it takes you here. Let's say, for instance, that I wanted to add a gradient to the background. No problem. I'll just double-click to the right, add a gradient overlay. And I'll change the blend mode of the gradient overlay to overlay, and then I am also going to reverse it and hit OK.
Now, I'll hit Command+S or Ctrl+S to save it, close this document, and look how it updates when I get back into this other document. If I don't like that, I can use Command+Z and Control+Z to undo, and it switches right back to normal. So let's go back and I'll remove the Oil Paint filter now, and I'll add just a standard noise adjustment to this. So Filter > Noise > Add Noise and I will do about 5 pixels of Gaussian monochromatic noise. And actually 5 is a little strong, so maybe 2. There we go. Hit OK and there we have it.
I am going to actually bring in some artwork that I created outside of Photoshop, and I am going to do that by going to File > Place. In my chapter 04 exercise files folder, I have robot.ai. I will find that, place it, and hit OK, and then I will just move it down till it hits the bottom, just like this, hit Enter to commit. And now I'm going to make sure that the clouds are behind the robot, so I will drag that up in the Layers panel.
Once I've placed this in there, it is still a vector object. I can scale it, rotate it, do whatever I want to it, and it will not lose the quality that it had from Illustrator. I can also jump back into Illustrator and make changes to this artwork anytime I want, and then save it and it will update here in Photoshop. Let me show you what I am talking about. I will go over here and double-click where it says robot. When I jump into Illustrator, it's going to tell me that there's a PDF modification detected, indicating that I've modified this outside of Illustrator. I am just going to say Discard Changes, hit OK, and then I'm going to hit Command+1 or Ctrl+1 to zoom in to 100% on this. And basically what I am going to do is I am going to put a fill behind the eyes and behind the smile.
So I am just going to grab the Rectangle tool, and I'll draw a shape that goes all the way back behind here. I want it to be white. There we go. And I am going to set the Stroke Color to None and the Fill Color to White, and then I'll use Command+Left Bracket key or Ctrl+Left Bracket key on my keyboard to send it behind the current object that I'm working on. You could also right-click on it and choose Arrange > Send to Back. In this case I've already got it in the back, so I am good to go. I will save it.
Once I save it, if I jump back over into Photoshop, you can see that the white fill is now behind the robot, just like I needed it to be. So again, anytime I need to make a change to a Smart Object, I find it over in the Layers panel, double-click the Smart Object icon. If it's a Photoshop Smart Object, the Smart Object opens directly from within Photoshop. I make the changes, save, close it, and it updates. If it's an Illustrator Smart Object, like the one you see here, you double-click it, Illustrator launches, you make your changes, save that artwork in Illustrator, and then you jump right back into Photoshop, and it should auto-update each and every time.
The beauty part about this is I can always save this file and open it back up anytime and get back to editing that original vector piece of artwork. I don't have to worry about losing that vector quality ever again. That's the beauty of Smart Objects, and it's a great thing for designing web sites, UI, applications like the one you have here, anything that you're designing that needs to go across multiple screens or devices needs to be able to be flexible, and vector formatting gives you just that.
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