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Smart Objects Part 1

Lesson 7 from: Advanced Adobe Photoshop Techniques

Dave Cross

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Lesson Info

7. Smart Objects Part 1

Lesson Info

Smart Objects Part 1

so anyone who's seen me talk ever anywhere in the last well probably four five years knows that I'm a rather large fan of these things called smart objects when they first were introduced I was like that's kind of interesting but now my workflow pretty much revolves around smart objects mostly because if you're trying to be non destructive and give yourselves lots of options and get work done more quickly and more accurately a lot of that to me revolves around being a smart as possible and smart objects is a perfect example of that and it seems odd tio to describe it this way but when people people who struggle with smart objects that we start off by saying that to me the best way to think of a smart objects you take whatever's on normal good old fashioned layer and you put it inside a container so a smart object for all intents purposes like a special container that lets you still see inside of it and see the original contents of the layer but let you change it all kinds of ways while...

still preserving those contents so for example as we'll see we'll scale it down really small them back up again without losing inequality you can apply filters that you can then go back and change you can anywhere you would have normally run to kind of a roadblock to go well I can't progress any further now now often you can because as we'll see in this the more advanced talk about smart objects you can also put one smart off inside another smart objects you get into that kind of russian doll thing or like oh look there's another doll inside and you khun do that same principle with smart objects to give yourself a ton of editing possibilities will warn you that first time you do it it's a little mind boggling when you have multiple smart obvious inside each other but the way I look at it is it just a solution to a problem if you look at and say well I can't do it maybe I'll make that a smart object often you can now the other thing I will say I wantto get a image in here that I can show you this I hate to start off with a discussion of the downsides to smart objects but I feel like they need to because often that's the first question people ask is there any reason not to use smart objects or is there any downside to it and the biggest roadblock that most people run into when they first use smart objects is that they try and do any kind of editing on a smart object they get this symbol that says nope you can't do that so you cannot paint clone he'll et cetera directly on a smart object and my responses nor what I want to because if I had a regular photograph I am not a smart object I wouldn't typically hell our clone directly on those anyway because I want more control so typically I do it on a separate layer so that means if you open or create a smart object and you see this nope you can't do that symbol add a layer and just make sure whatever tool you're using for example like the clone stamp tool that up here it's saying sample all layers and that means then you'll be able to put the results of that tool onto the blank layer and yet still have the ability to edit the original smart object so if you've ever run into that problem quote unquote where you feel like you don't want to use smart office because of that this is the work around it's a very simple one and it's one I said I do with regular photographs if I just opened a photo and want to edit it very rarely do I work directly on the background layer usually I'm working on a separate layer anyway so this is the same thing smart objects will make your file size larger in some cases a fair bit larger personally I'm okay with that I'd rather have the editing ability that smart objects give you then and sacrifice a bit of file size than the opposite having a small file size and losing options were editing to me there's no point in that and up until now with the files I'm working with I've yet to have a problem where I'm like wow that file is so big I can't work on anymore it's just it's bigger people say how much bigger I honestly don't know I stopped looking at file size is a few years ago because I didn't need to they were big and I could use them and you know never had a problem with it so unless you're running into an issue where you're trying to do something and you've got so much happening with so many levels of smart objects that you get a long progress bar going still trying to do this then perhaps you have to rethink it a little bit but overall again if that's a downside to smart object side I can live with it quite nicely because of the options it gives me so we can create smart objects in a variety of ways and there's really no difference between them is just different ways to get the same end result so here for example I took a illustrator logo on this simply opened it in photo shop and it's a typical photoshopped layer nothing unusual about it except it's not locked because it's just not the background legacy it has transparency around it so if I for example went to do something like free transform and make it really small and hit enter without doing smart objects that's now it's one hundred percent size so if I decided later on to scale it back up again because it was too late to undo you'll see as soon as you scale something up in photo shop it always loses quality and that's just the reality of life with pixels so if I undo that instead if I make it a smart object first it's going to protect that size inside of it so I can make it a smart object converted in several different ways you can right click right on the layer thumbnail and shoes convert to smart object or you know the filter menu and she was convert for smart filters which is the same thing or I could go under layer which is this way is the most complicated I can't imagine why you want to take this many steps convert to smart object or focus of people at home you could make a keyboard shortcut of your own that said convert to smart object which really useful and go looking anyway just press come bang whatever your shortcut is and it makes it a smart object so either way any of those ways all work the same when you convert to a smart object the on ly kind of difference is you can see there's a little symbol on there that says this is a smart object that's what that means and now as we saw before it means right away certain tools are saying nope can't do it but just to demonstrate the difference now if I scale this down really small and hit enter even though it looks really small it's still remembers inside that smart object the contents of this smart object is this original size so if I go back and free transform it back up again I so can't go larger than the original size at least this way I can get back to the size I was without losing inequality if I want to edit the original contents like I want to write I just to say from now on forever more I don't want that little dot on there if you double click on a smart object it opens a separate window with the contents this part is a little subtle it throws people off inverse it happened so fast that even look like a separate window at first until you realize that up on the top here says layer one dot psb that's the file format for the contents let me make it a little more obvious if I free transformed this down and then I double click on it you will see the contents is still that big size because that's what it remembers that's how big the smart object was so if I now work to make some change to it like clone over this so it's not there anymore move it up or whatever I want as long as soon as I close it and save it now this other one has updated and at any time I can double click now honestly I wouldn't do it that way because now I can't change my mind even this example I would have done it on a separate layer just to give myself mohr options but that's the idea always have smart object and then the contents um when I'm working on this let's close this one for second okay so this when I talked before about tiling windows this would be another example of when I would do this because it helps me visualize and see a much quicker feedback I double click to open the contents window then do that little method where we choose tile windows so now I know that on the right hand side in this case is my finished quote unquote logo this size this is the contents so if I come into this document and add a layer and decide that there needs to be a little square hill here filled with white as soon as I hit save it'll update on this other window so this way I'm editing the contents on one side and I'm seeing the and I always say air quotes finished version because it's never completely finish and that's the advantage of working in this smart way is like going actually this needs to be further up here hit save and I'll see it up eight in the context of this smaller size so any time you have smart objects that's the first thing you have to get used to is the smart object itself and then the contents is it going to be a separate window if you happen to as we'll talk about later on do a camera smart object then that's slightly different because it doesn't open a separate window it goes back to camera so it's a similar kind of idea but just reacts a little bit differently so you mentioned there's a number of ways of creating smart objects automatic let's look at one other one so if I have a document open in the past there would have been too many reasons if I wanted to add another photoshopped document like that logo to this document I would have in the past open that document and then done a kind of a copy and paste or dragon drop but now what I could do instead I can do it either from within photoshopped poor since I'm in bridge I can do it here like right on this logo once and she was file place in photo shop it brings it in and as soon as I hit enter now it's a smart object so it automatically happens whenever you place a file into photo shop it's going to make it a smart off automatically so if I already know I wanted to be smart then rather than drag it in and then right click and choose convert to smart object this is just faster the other reason why placing is important or useful is if you have a file that you know is bigger than the one you're placing it into it'll automatically scale it down to fit whenever you choose place so it gives you that advantage as well if I do it from the file menu now this changed right about photoshopped cc in the past they used to say place now there's two options place embedded or place linked and they both have their advantages if you choose place embedded it just means this file resides inside this document it'll get larger ah file size because in there but you don't have to worry about losing the connection because it's built right in there where I might use linked is something like this where I have a siri's of documents from the same photo shoot's going open all of these and then I'll choose place linked and then we go in here and find our logo which happens to also be a multi layered photoshopped file which we'll see in a moment and I hit place and then I can say I want to put this one up here and then do the same thing so it does take me a second to place lengthen tow these documents on this one place linked if you do this a lot you shouldn't be surprised by how to hear me say you might I want to make a keyboard shortcut for this because if you're doing it over and over again not doing it enoughto warranted in this case but just it's a way for me to save dead airtime while I sit here and place in multiple ones of course they can be different sizes whatever you want but each case now there's a smart object and there's a subtle difference that happened because I chose linked this cymbal changes to like a little link symbol to tell me these four graphics these four photographs are all referring to the same place graphic the reason I might want to do that is if I decide to change the graphic itself it will change in all four because their link it's very similar if you ever use page layout software that's generally the way we work with graphics there's tow link wth um so there's a link between them so I'm gonna just go in and save each one of these days we're already psd files and if we look at them in bridge you can see they each have the logo on there and there's a little symbol to show that there is a link in them now if I open my logo file I happened ahead of time to plan for this and I created layer camps so fight outside honestly what my logo would look like if I changed it slightly if I change the for example to read with texture that's one already haven't I had saved I can't even switch fast enough to show you it's automatically updated on all of them so the advantage of this is if you're working with a logo that you know I've used it in multiple windows and I want to make sure that if I change the logo it will change in all of them this work because I saved the documents if I hadn't saved one of them that one wouldn't update because it didn't know yet that there was a link that I wanted in there the thing you have to be very careful about is if I were to do anything like I was thinking oh I should actually would make better sense to me if I call this some other file to help myself remember I've effectively just broken the link there because now these files going to be like well wait a second it used to be called rogers and now it's called something else so I don't know if you can see this but there's a there's a little question mark on that that means well there is a link but something's changed so if I go to the properties panel it will tell me well it used to be here can I see if I can resolve the broken link by finding it so I would have to manually go well there it is I just changed the name or amore useful suggestion is don't change the name after you've linked it so when you link ah file it remembers the name the file name the position like where I should say the location where you had safe so if you change any of those things you will break the link so I at first put them in the same folder just to make sure that that wouldn't happen so if I was smart and wasn't trying to show this I just wouldn't have made that change and nothing would have happened you do have the option is a set of relinking if you need to or replacing with a different file if you realize it should have been a different one so the question that often comes up at this point is well which is better linking or embedding and the answer is like a lot of things the photoshopped it really depends in some circumstances it might make better sense for you to say I'm gonna embed this file so there's no worry of it ever changing it's a one time kind of deal if it's something like this where it's a logo that I'm using in multiple documents and I might want to update it for some reason then this is where I can really take advantage of that change one and have it go through every single place I used to have an update automatically so that's on option that you can choose to do it later on we'll look at how weaken take this a step further taking advantage of layer camps and smart objects that are linked because there's a really interesting brand new feature that can take it on a step further if you want a bit more ability to experiment try different things okay so that's very quick little kind of a nut shell of the concept of smart objects in general the fact that when you're to convert something indoor making a smart object it's automatically protective don't worry so much about the original contents where we can take this a little step further here let's get rid of these other files here is working with smart objects can give us some interesting possibilities but we can still run into a potential problem so for example I have these two type players I want to a try applying a filter here so if I go directly the filter menu and pick some filter going to get this error message that says the type player must be rast arised or converted to a smart object before proceeding if rast arise its text will no longer be editable and I'm very happy to tell you this is the first time I've noticed this right now today they actually changed this dialog box and I'd like to think mike complaining had something to do with it because I every time I was this dollar box used to say this type player must be rass arised before proceeding it didn't mention smart objects it just would said that's your only choice rast arise and the only option was cancel or asteroids now they actually have convert to smart public that they can't tell me I can't tell you how happy that makes me to see that because it usedto prompt people to click rast arise and the problem is when you're asked arise tex you can't edit anymore now this is the very latest update to photoshopped cc twenty fourteen so you have anything other than that you'll see an ok button that you don't want to click you want to hit cancel and manually convert to a smart object so now I can do it right here which is really nice and that means my filter by nature is also now smart applying a filter normally means you change them settings you click okay that's the end of the story can't really edit very much here I can go in and I can apply a filter to this smart object that used to be type and you can see now it says you've applied a smart filter that's called a motion blur if I want to remind myself how much I did aiken double click and change the settings I can also turn it off and on and over here on the right hand side is a nice little feature where we have blending options very somewhere toe layers so I can say what if I just lower the opacity to make it more of a ghostie kind of effect or maybe try a blend mode as well and see what that doesn't like that combination of overlay seventy percent but the benefit here is now if I look at it I say yeah but I made a mistake with the wording if I double click on this smart object it'll open a separate document that has the type in it so the type is still available I just have to find it by looking and then aiken close and say that in updates I'm gonna undo that because dave shadows doesn't make a whole lot of sense not the dark shadows does that much but so at this point I have the start of the effect that I want I've got the word dark is now smart object with this cool smart filter but what if I want to do something more to it like no let's just apply a drop shadow so we'll do that ladder drop shadow and pull the drop shadow turnoff global light global I just means all laywer effects will be the same light source or in this case for a special fact I don't want that I want to do it independently and make it a very subtle kind of a shadow so here's where now I could run into a slight challenge because in my head I'm thinking to really show this the fact that I want I want a second shadow going another direction and the problem is with layer styles you can't have more than one drop shadow for the same layer so what you could potentially do I suppose is duplicate this but again then you're back to having two different layers and so instead I want to in effect telephoto shop I want to reset everything so I can start again with layer styles so I want to add another drop shadow so I take this smart object that has the drop shadow and the motion blur take that whole thing and I choose convert to smart object now looking at the icon or the thumbnail you can see it looks like a brand new fresh layer doesn't it there's nothing underneath it that says filter or smart object or I should say smart filter so now for example I could go on add another drop shadow in this case I'll go this direction I make it more obvious so now I'm getting to the point that I wanted not to push this too far but if we decided we wanted yet another drop shadow I could take this and convert to a smart this is referred to his nested smart object you take a smart object and you convert that to a smart object each time it's a little the wording is odd because it always says convert to smart object even though technically it already is it's like saying make another one so you're putting that smart object inside another smart object so at this point if I have done all this work and then I decide well I do want to change the type or the fought or something else it's just a matter of digging down far enough to find the original type so if I double click on this smart object it'll open another window that shows well I still can't see the type yet so have to double click on that one and now I can see the text so in here I make whatever changes I want this clothes and save that will update this one which I can then close and save and it will update so it takes an extra window or two but the level of editing you khun do here is really quite remarkable places where he's always kind of say oh well I guess I'll have to live with that'll have to rast arise or whatever to me this is a better solution because I'm preserving all the levels of ed ability that I want but still getting the effect that I want what any point if I decide I want to change the type I want to change the filter on changed the angle the drop shadow all of those things are accessible I just have to keep in mind double click to dig down and find the original contents and depending on the situation it could literally be four levels down if you have that many smart objects someone asked me once whether I knew if there was some limit as to how many levels of nesting of smart obviously to do and there probably is but it's probably some crazy number like you know nine hundred ninety nine or something that the average human wouldn't actually you ever run into I did hear a rumor once of a guy in texas that did like twenty seven smart objects in his brain exploded because he was just like ac and handle all this pressure so there probably is some technical limitation but for me I've never run into it I've done it most four five and not for any reason other than I needed to because I ran into a road block that let me say well in order to continue I need to go back to making another smart object any situation we want to kind of reset where you already have a stroke or a drop shadow or something like that and you want to move a step further or you have a filter here's another example in this I do this all the time because it is one of the ways that I edit when I'm retouching so I have camera it's going to be already comes in as a smart object and I decide I want to do some editing so let's do a filter like this and this is quick retouching it's not full blown portrait retouching anything by that nature and before I proceed let me remind you of one of my favorite expressions which is end up with so when I'm part way through you're going to be thinking yourself really you're thinking that's making this photo look better because it's deliberately overdoing things so I can see the results so for example I want to soften her skin by doing a little bit of a blur but to make sure I can see it I'm initially going to do more blur than I need so I can quite clearly see what I'm doing so I click okay that creates this smart filter telling me it's a gaussian blur and this right here is a mask so this is where I can decide which parts I want to blur which parts I don't right now everything is blurred because the mask is white so if I press commander control id teoh invert this now I have ai ghazi in blur filter that's completely hidden and if I stopped right here then I would have just wasted my time because why would you apply a filter and then hide it completely but the reason I did that is now I can take a paintbrush get my foreman card a white I'm doing a quick check of my settings here it looks ok and wherever I paint with white I'll be revealing the effects of the smart filter so in effect I could say it's like I'm painting gazi and blur because really that's what I'm doing by painting with white is saying revealed the effects of whatever smart filter I have there and again I've deliberately over blurred and normally of course I would zoom in closer from is doing this quickly to show you the basic principle I'm deliberately trying to avoid detail areas like her face her eyes and her mouth and everything if I want to see what my mass looks like option all click on the layer mask will show you the mass which is always fun to do with this because it just looks so we're does look at something like that but also helps confirm that I get the main spots now that I've done that it looks way too blurry so I double click on this pull the number back considerably and then I usually also dial down the opacity a little bit so now it's a lot more subtle than it was before but she has just a little bit of skin softening going on if we turn this on you could see it's still probably a little too much let's put it back in a bit more there we go and also this view I can notice that I probably should have done a better job of masking down here so let's just do that now obviously I would take more time and do it more actually but I really want to show you is here's the one drawback you're into with smart filters and that is there's only one mask no matter how many smart filters you have so at this point I'm thinking well now that I've soften her skin I want to sharpen her hair and her eyes and her lips and things like that that need to be sharpened well the problem that I run into is this if I go to my filter menu and choose whatever sharpening filter I want to try that again I was in the wrong place here we go what's going to happen is the same layer mask is same filter mask is in place so I'm going to blur and sharp in exactly the same pixels which doesn't make any sense what I need to do is the opposite I want to blur one area and then sharpen the opposite area so my mask needs to be completely opposite of this and unfortunately there is no method that allows you to say on this one layer let me have two filters each with their own leader mass that just doesn't happen it's just a nature of the technology so here's what I would do make my life simpler I hope is to take all of this I just option are all clicked on the mass so I could see it select all and copy then I'm gonna take this layer mask excuse me this layer smart object here converted to a smart obvious which again is like saying reset and let me start again now I can do my sharpening whatever I want and on the mask I choose paste and then invert so now I have a mask which is exactly what I want I don't want to sharpen her skin errors want to sharpen everything else so when you look at this point this is the only part that you have to keep your mind realizing what's going on here is that when I look at just this there's no way for me to remember to look at it visually see oh yeah I also have a gaussian blur filter because that's inside the original smart object so I just have to remember as part of my work low this is kind of the second smart object so if I decide I want to edit that I would double click he would go back to the one with the gaussian blur I could make whatever changed their save it and we'll update in the other one so at first glance it seems like why would I have to make another smart object very simple reason is when you're talking about smart filters there will be one mask and if you're if it works out that one mask and apply to three filters great but very often for me I find this is exactly what I want to do softened one area sharp another in the same photo so I can't it's not the same area opposite of each other so the solution is while still preserving all this ability is nests smart objects inside of each other now later on we'll talk about it the camera smart object aspect but just to remind you in this case the original file came from cameras so we've not done those other steps of one smart object to soften her skin and one two sharp in other areas I can still get right back to the original photo information in camera and added it and have everything update so that's a real plus is nowhere along the way have I felt like and I've said this multiple times because I feel very strong about this I never want to feel myself going oh well I guess I have to live with that I never want that file was not that feeling of even though it might seem complicated first to put a smart up object inside a smart object it's giving me this unending level of well I can still get back to that we'll get back to that so I've said this before but I any word like merge flatten a race delete rast arised amir old bad evil things that cause you grief so if you can avoid those than that's really important and again I can't tell you how happy it makes me tit see that new message that now says convert to smart object writing that dialogue box because I used to tell people don't click ok but some people if if that little glowy button is glowing there like oh I guess I should click that was like no not if it says restaurant so now the fact that there's a new alternative is really really important and they're useful to because it saves a step

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Ratings and Reviews

a Creativelive Student

I am an experienced photographer and retoucher and this Advanced Photoshop class with Dave Cross was exactly what I was hoping to find. I know how to accomplish everything I need in Photoshop, but was looking for the ways that I could update my workflow with the new features that have been added by Adobe. The complete use of Smart Objects and libraries is already changing my life and is incredibly useful and time saving. Dave gave a great explanation about the coarse at the beginning as to the fact that he just wanted to help users make their workflow better and he did just that...and in an enjoyable way. I highly recommend this class!

a Creativelive Student

While not highly experienced in PS I'm also not a newbie. I've done a few other online courses and am a member of other training sites but very quickly found I got information here that I hadn';t yet come across. Nesting smart objects and the non-destructive editing abilities they give me was one of those light bulb moments. Lots of other useful information in this course. Had to try the CC Library as a result. Very useful..... wish it saved the layer comps with your file though. Put some of these new learnt skills into a composite straight away.... did I say I'm loving nested smart objects!! A great course Dave.


Brilliant, love Dave's clear presentation style which is easy to follow, simply had to buy this one. I thought i had a pretty good grasp on photoshop but I'm delighted at how some of these seemingly simple tips and tricks have improved the quality of my final images and the speed at which I can work.

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