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Working with multiple layers

From: Photoshop CS5 Smart Objects Workshop

Video: Working with multiple layers

Part of the power of Smart Objects comes from the way in which a single smart object can hold multiple layers. Let's see that in action by editing the content of our Smart Object once again. So as before, we can double-click the Smart Object in the Layers panel. We'll get the standard warning. In fact, now we've seen what it says, we can check the Don't Show Again button and we won't be bothered by it. So here's the Smart Object opened in its new window, and let's zoom in on this. What I want to do here is to reposition the legs so that both boots face in opposite directions.

Working with multiple layers

Part of the power of Smart Objects comes from the way in which a single smart object can hold multiple layers. Let's see that in action by editing the content of our Smart Object once again. So as before, we can double-click the Smart Object in the Layers panel. We'll get the standard warning. In fact, now we've seen what it says, we can check the Don't Show Again button and we won't be bothered by it. So here's the Smart Object opened in its new window, and let's zoom in on this. What I want to do here is to reposition the legs so that both boots face in opposite directions.

So what I'm going to do is to make a Layer Mask for this layer. And we can do this by going to Layer > Layer Mask > Reveal All. Now I'm going to use the Lasso tool to make a selection around the original leg. And now I'm going to fill it with black on the Layer Mask and because black is the background color we can do this by pressing Cmd + Del on a mac, Ctrl + Del on a PC and anywhere we fill with black on a Layer Mask will be hidden from that layer.

It's not deleted of course. We can always disable the layer mask by Shift clicking on it and we can see the entire layer once again. So what I'm now going to do is to go back to the man layer, select the other leg, again just using the Lasso tool, and I'm going to choose Layer > New Layer Via Copy. And that now makes a new layer out of that leg. We can use Free Transform to move that across, flip it horizontally, and now position it on top of the original leg. So we get these two boots facing in opposite directions. Now we can see what happened here, there's a very small gap between the new leg and the old one.

And in fact, it is a slightly jagged line up there. We can mask that by moving the new leg behind the original one in the Layers panel. And we can go back to the layer mask itself. If we switch to the Brush tool, we can use a soft edge brush to paint on this mask. Where we paint in white, it reveals this layer again. So by painting with a soft edge brush on the mask, we can blend the original leg down into our new one. Now once again as we see, the original Smart Object layer remains untouched. But if we go to File > Save, it saves the contents of the Smart Object back into the Smart Object layer itself.

What's useful here is we've been able to make several layers out of our original object. We've got the man with the Layer Mask, that can be part of the Smart Object. And the new leg can also be part of a Smart Object. The ability for a single Smart Object to hold several layer within, is of huge benefit to the Photoshop artist. We could combine an entire complex photo montage into a single Smart Object, and then scale and manipulate it as much as we wish without ever altering the contents.

And if we want to of course.

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Photoshop CS5 Smart Objects Workshop

34 video lessons · 859 viewers

Steve Caplin
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