Join Deke McClelland for an in-depth discussion in this video Introducing Smart Filters, part of Photoshop CS5 One-on-One: Mastery.
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I am going to start things off by showing you some Smart Filter applications for a few common filter scenarios that we examined back in the advance portion of this series. So I'll show you how to sharpen with Smart Filters, I'll show you how to smooth, and I'll also show you how to apply Shadows Highlights, and those were the topics, incidentally, of chapters 15, 16 and 17 respectively. So we're going to start things off with one of the sharpening examples that we first saw on Chapter 15 and that's Rodents in love.jpg. And the first thing that we need to do, because this is a flat JPEG file, we need to go ahead and convert the background layer into a Smart Object and you can do that in a couple of different ways.
One is to go to the Layers panel, click on the flyout menu icon, and choose Convert to Smart Object or if you loaded DekeKeys you can press Ctrl+Comma or Command+Comma on the Mac and that will convert the background item into a Smart Object then any filter you apply becomes a Smart Filter. The other way it works is to go up to the Filter menu and choose Convert for Smart Filters and it does exactly the same thing with one difference, the first time you choose it, and that is you get this alert message that tells you, hey! All this command is doing is converting the active layer to a Smart Object.
You don't need to see that every single time so go ahead and say don't show again and click OK. So regardless of how you decided to get your Smart Object, there it is, and I am going to go ahead and rename it squirrels, like so, and then let's go ahead and apply the Smart Sharpen Filter. Now I should say, there is no relationship between these various Smarts. Smart Objects and Smart Filters go together because they provide a non-destructive filtering environment, whereas the Smart and Smart Sharpen just indicates that it's an upgrade to the Unsharp mask Filter. So go up to the Filter menu, choose Sharpen, and choose Smart Sharpen or if you loaded DekeKeys, you've got a keyboard of Shift+F6.
And then I am going to switch form my default settings here to those same settings I applied way back in Chapter 15 and those are Print defaults. So if you went and created some Print default settings, you can select them; if not, you want an Amount value of 250 %, a Radius by a 4.0 pixels, Remove set to the Lens Blur and More Accurate turned off, and you'll get this effect right here. We're not going to worry about the Advanced settings this time around. So let's just stick with basic and then click OK in order to apply that filter. And now I am going to zoom in, and you'll notice, if you look closely not only are these guys super-sharpen, I would go so far as to say they are over sharpened, but we also have a few color artifacts going on inside of the squirrels' fur.
So this guy over here, on the left hand side, has a bunch of new greens that are showing up, some greens and purples. And you need to get rid of those by applying the Luminosity Blend mode and that's something you do over here in the Layers panel. So notice, in addition to our squirrels smart object we also have this item that says Smart Filters. It's got a Filter mask applied to it; the Filter mask currently is entirely white by default, so that you're applying the filtering operation across the entire image. And then, under that, we see a list of the Smart Filters you've applied which so far is just one because we've applied Smart Sharpen and nothing else.
Now if you wanted to change your Smart Sharpen settings, you could go ahead and double-click on Smart Sharpen; that would bring back the Smart Sharpen dialog box. So one of the big advantages to Smart Filters is that they are editable at any point in time, so long as you don't go and flatten your image or rasterize that Smart Object. So let's say this time around I decide, you know what, the Radius value should be a little lower, I'll take it down to 3.5 pixels. Because Print defaults are my active settings, as you as I clicked OK, I will update those settings and that's just fine by me, for now, so I'll go ahead and click OK.
The other thing you can do is you can click on this little slider icon right there and if you do that, over here on the right side of the panel, then you're going to bring up the Blending Options dialog box which allows you to change the Blend mode and the Opacity value. Watch those little greens and purples here inside the fur, in the image window. I am going to start things off by changing the mode from Normal to Luminosity, which is something you should do any time you apply the Unsharp mask or a Smart Sharpen Filter, and those weird colors, particularly the greens, go ahead and drop away and we're left with more sort of beige rodent colors inside the fur there.
And then finally I am going to take this Opacity value down to 70%, which is what I did with this example back in Chapter 15, and I'll click OK. All right, so that gives us the exact same result we were able to achieve in Chapter 15 using a static filter along with the Fade command under the Edit menu. However, we can do more than that, not only can we edit our settings anytime we like. For example I could say, gosh! You know what, I want to revisit those Blending Options and I want to take that Opacity value down to 50%, because it feels like I'm just going too far with this effect that looks better, click OK.
So you can change your mind as much as you want. Not only that, you can also take advantage of this Filter mask right there, so that you can brush in the effect to your heart's content. So let me show you what that looks like. I'll go ahead and zoom out and click once again, I'll click inside the Filter mask in order to make it active and let's say mostly we don't want to sharpen this image. For example, all this background stuff shouldn't be sharpened, because we're just going to bring out the noise hence it's so out of focus. We just want to focus our sharpening energies here on the faces of the squirrels.
So let's start things off by filling that Filter mask with black. Black is my background color currently, so I am going to press Ctrl+Backspace or Command+Delete on the Mac in order to fill the filter mask with Black, which means that I'm not applying the filter to anything inside the image now. Now I'll go ahead and grab my Brush tool by clicking on it or pressing the B Key, I've got a very large brush going, if I right-click you can see it's 800 pixels, so its whoppingly big; 0% harness because I want some soft transitions, and my foreground color is white.
So I am just going to start brushing in, in the rodent's faces like so and that brushes in the sharpening effect. I might as well brush in this guy's fur and down into its feet. There is no sense in brushing in this region; I am not. I'm just gesturing, because that's out of focus same with this region at the rear of the left hand squirrel. I'll zoom out a little bit so that we can take in that dirt up front. That should be sharpened I thing, so I'll go ahead and paint over that a little bit. And then I'll zoom in on the whiskers to make sure that they are sharpened as well by clicking on them and then I'm done.
So you have that degree of control, as well provided in one easy operation. Basically, I don't think this is any harder to pull off that as a Smart Filter than using a Static Filter, and it's a lot more flexible to boot.
Recommended prerequisites: Photoshop CS5 One-on-One: Fundamentals and Photoshop CS5 One-on-One: Advanced.
- Using masks and blend modes in radically new ways
- Mastering the Pen tool and Paths panel
- Transforming and maximizing Smart Objects
- Employing Smart Filters to create complex effects
- Exploring the capabilities of Bristle brushes and the Mixer Brush
- Merging multiple images into seamless panoramas
- Exploring the full range of luminance with HDR Pro
- Recording actions and batching-processing images