Skip to main content

Color Techniques For Retouching

Lesson 21 of 30

Using Smart Objects


Color Techniques For Retouching

Lesson 21 of 30

Using Smart Objects


Lesson Info

Using Smart Objects

I believe what I'm going to do now is talk about smart objects a little bit. A little bit, we got (sighs), this is challenging. What is challenging about this next section, and I'm just gonna open up a smart object, I'm not gonna touch it, I'm just gonna open it. And we're gonna talk about smart objects in a few different ways. This is a raw shot, not cleaned up at all, okay. So do you recall when we were talking earlier about some of that section up here, that dreaded image adjustments, which most of you hopefully don't play around with 'cause there's no reason to be over here, because you have to do it to a flat file, right, you guys understand that? Let me just do a quick illustration just in case someone at home does not know what I'm talking about. All right. So let's say for example we have this layer here and we go to adjustments and we're gonna do selective color, and we're gonna change the reds. Whatever direction we feel like heading with the reds. Whatever, green, she doesn'...

t feel very well, she's a little ill or she's been in the sun too much. Whatever we're doing, this is no different than the adjustment layer, only it's now permanent and I cannot undo it. Not only can I not undo it, I don't know what I just did. And I cannot be the only one, right, that does this. I used to in the old days, believe it or not, adjustment layers didn't always exist in Photoshop. I'd have a pad of paper and I'd write notes and I'd write what my corrections were so that when I had to go back to redo it, 'cause the client came back and said they wanted a change, I could look it back up. Very messy desk, lots of papers, lots of writing. This is why I don't want you to use those 'cause they're bad, bad, bad. However, there are a couple things in here that are not bad, that you might wanna use. One of them happens to be shadow and highlights. Now I know this is not, this is a value thing, and I don't normally talk about it but because it's under the adjust, and so valuable, I think you should know about it, so shadow and highlights is one of those functions that I think is pretty amazing. It's a way of adding value or lightening up the shadows if you need to or bringing down the highlights if you need to. You can get that horrible HDR look if you do it badly, so be careful here. Use with discretion. However, you cannot do this to a adjustment layer. You cannot do it, you have to do it to a permanent file. The work around is create a file that's a smart object and attach it to that. That is a work around, okay. So you could also, I would not advise this, you could also do all adjustments the same way. If it's highlighted, those adjustments are available, if it is not highlighted, you cannot use it with a smart object, okay, that's how Photoshop tells you what you can do. In addition, I just wanna stress that you can change the blend modes on this and you can also add a mask, so let me just do this real quickly. You can mask it in or out, depending on what you're trying to achieve, so it's flexible this way. The trouble with this is that are you actually gonna get to work on a flat file? So I'm a retoucher, right, I do retouching, I put people's heads on other people's bodies, I take things in, I take things out. I am not the final decider on those decisions so I forever have to be flexible when I do this kind of job, so how I work around this is if I have a file and in fact, let's just open up a different file. I will open up... Let's just open up me for a second, and let's say I've done some work, I've got some color, I've got some nasty stuff, we're just gonna say, doesn't matter what it looks like, and let's say this is me with some adjustments and at the end, I just have to take that off, at the end, the client is like, "Oh, I really want those shadows "brought up," and in the process of bringing up the shadows, I didn't do it in a way with curves or levels that I liked, and shadow highlights is a really great trick. I use it all the time. What I would do and see if you can just follow along here for a second, I will make a copy merge. Command option shift E or it's under here somewhere. I don't use the menu bar for this often, but it's make a copy on a new layer. And I will call that merge below for shadow detail. It takes two seconds, I actually have to be honest, I have an action that does this. I just hit an action key and it makes this for me, so it's part of my regular work flow and then I go to shadow and highlights, and I put in what I need. Now why do it this way is this file can now go to my client, my client's client and my client's brother in law because you know they're gonna ask a brother in law his opinion as well. This is how my job works, and when it comes back, I can apply this. Oh, but I can't apply this right, this is flat. Here's your work around, we just talked about it a second ago, it's smart objects. So instead, once you've made your stamp visible, you change the name, make it a smart object. Convert it to a smart object, then apply your shadows and highlight, whatever it is that you like, let's just say for giggles this is what we like. Send the job. They come back, they say that is awesome but the only thing is is her eyes need to be bigger. Okay, turn that adjust layer off, turn that smart object off, go back to your file, call it round two, whatever you need to call it. Go to liquefy, let's just say for example. Face aware, do we want that? Change the size, change. Why are you not clicking on my face? You see my face, I know you see it. (chuckles) Come on. Oh demos, they just don't wanna work, that's all right. We'll do it this way. Ooh, fishy eyes. There, nice and awake, lots of caffeine, everything's good. I know, it's pretty frightening. I probably look like that in the morning. All right, here we go again, absolutely zero big deal. Command option shift E, make a new merged layer. Merge. Round two. Please do not forget this step here. Make it a smart object. Drag your smart filter down. Throw away that top one, or save it. Save it if you need to, and your color correction can still work, okay? I now this sounds a little cuckoo bear crazy but sometimes some corrections that are just jacked or really hard to do, or for example, the correction you need to do, I really need to get rid of (mumbles) just nasty looking. The correction you need to do requires such a complicated mask, so sometimes when you're trying to bring up the shadow values and you need to get a really complicated mask, heck, use the cheat, use the shadow highlight filter but just keep it as a smart object, okay, that's a good work around because the retouching has to change, so let's say I spent a half an hour making a really groovy mask and making those levels come up and then they change the head on me. (sighs) This way it's a cheat, so it's a valid cheat and I think it is a good work around. All right I'm gonna show you another work around. This one I say proceed with caution. Proceed with caution. I'm gonna make this a smart object. And I'm gonna go to Camera Raw. All right, proceed with caution. There are a lot of color adjustments in Camera Raw. I happen to really like that you get the oranges and the reds. There's something about me, I don't know if it's my photographic background but this particular interface I really like and it's only available in Camera Raw. So you can change the hue. Again, I know some of this you can do in hue saturation but you can't do all of this in quite this more expanded breakdown and truth of the matter is it's the orange. It's having that orange. It really just makes this that much easier, for me. So I actually like to use this Camera Raw for affecting imagery, but there's kind of a problem here and the problem is it's not an adjustment layer. It's gotta be done on a merged file, right, and if there's changes it's slightly problematic. Here is my work around, 'cause for me to remake, that orange, I look like I'm an Oompa Loompa. The work around is to make a smart object and just attach that Camera Raw filter to it. And I think that works very well for me and I can go back in, but what that does is that works very well for me. That isn't necessarily a common workflow and isn't necessarily gonna work well with someone who I have to pass the file to. So a giant caveat for this particular technique, and what this technique is is using Camera Raw for color correction. I use it on my files only, that means it's a file where it's a client direct, I'm the only one who's gonna touch this file, I do not have to give this to a retoucher and I do not need to supply a layer file with this on it. Okay, I use this a lot, I have to be really honest, on my catalog work, and it's just 'cause it's faster for me. It just works for my brain. I used it exactly as you see here, it's a smart object, all the retouching's below and it'll be on a merged layer. And what else do I wanna tell you about watching out for this? Only client direct, that's key. Client direct stuff.

Class Description

There are countless options for manipulating, changing and correcting color your photographs. Clear up the confusion by joining professional finisher, Lisa Carney in her exclusive class focusing just on color. In this course, Lisa will identify and clarify different adjustment layers, walk through a professional’s workflow for color correction, and dive into working with curves.

You’ll learn:

  • How to work with gradient fills and gradient maps
  • Working with Hue and Saturation
  • Setting up a Color workflow system
  • Using Gradient Maps for Color Correction
  • How to use curves for matching color and tone

Handle color like a pro by learning from one of the best retouchers in Hollywood. Join Lisa for this extensive and in-depth look on working with color in Photoshop®.

Software Used: Adobe Photoshop CC 2017



Another awesome course by Lisa Carney, packed full of information This course is really a comprehensive look at colors ... I learned so much, and even stuff I thought I knew pretty well, I found some pretty eye opening new information. I find Lisa Carney to be a wonderful teacher. When she has an important point to make she'll say her point, pause and then repeat what she just said, just to lock it into your memory. Fantastic. Side note: I signed up for the CreativeLive creative pass as soon as I realized how great all of Lisa Carney's classes are. I'd started to buy them one by one and quickly realized they are all wonderful. You can watch this class from beginning to end and get great information ... but to get the most bang for the buck you'll want to pause, hit rewind, get a cup of coffee, open Photoshop and try out her tips while you watch. There are sections I rewound and watched about 5 times, to be sure I understood all the subtle points. Lisa Carney is pretty amazing - she works really hard to thoroughly explain the process she uses to solve problems, and she never glosses over anything important. To cover a particular point, she'll start with a finished file with all the layers - and instead of simply explaining each layer like a mortal would do, she'll literally delete all the adjustment layers and start from scratch to show the process. This is incredibly empowering since it gives you an understanding of just how easy the process can be once you get the hang of it


This is an EXCELLENT class for Photoshop users! Lisa is very professional, knowledgeable and, also, a delight to watch and listen to! Not only that she explains the concepts but she also shares her own experience and her practical ways of using those concepts! Great, great class! Thank you, Lisa and CreativeLive!

a Creativelive Student

This course has an abundance of useful information along with professional tips based on actual field experience. This course is definitely one I will come back to from time to time to reiterate the information. For this reason the way it is organised is perfect to find information about a specific technique or adjustment layer. It is well composed with some humour and advanced information. Loved it and highly recommend it for people who want to deal with the little details and get things exactly the way they want. Not suitable for lazy or sloppy people who just want to get the job good enough for sharing but don't care about getting it perfect for print.