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Transcript for Smart Objects -- Part III Video

Transcript by Ron Bigelow

Photoshop CS4 Used in this Tutorial

In this video, we are going to use Smart Objects to transform an ordinary image into something a bit more interesting. Here, we have an image of a ceramic figurine. Let’s see if we can do something with this image.

A small amount of work has already been done on this image. As you can see, we have two layers. The top layer is the image with a mask. If we right click the mask and select Disable Layer Mask, we can see the original image. It becomes apparent that the image was shot while the figurine was in a mirrored display case. This resulted in a very distracting background. So, a mask was created to eliminate these distractions. Let’s go ahead and turn the mask back on by right clicking the layer mask and choosing Enable Layer Mask.

If we click off the eye icon of the image layer, we can see that a simple gray layer was added below the image to provide a background. This arrangement gets rid of all of the distractions, but it creates a rather bland image. Let’s see if we can spice this up a bit.

The first thing that we should do is jazz up that lackluster background. How about a nice red background with a bit of a pattern to it? As a matter of fact, I have just such a Smart Object background. So, this brings us to the first Smart Object technique of this video, replacing one Smart Object with another. This is incredibly simple. In order to replace the Gray Smart Object, all we have to do is make sure that the Gray layer is selected and choose Layer/Smart Objects/Replace Contents. Then, we just choose our new Smart Object, which is called Red in this case. There, this background is more interesting.

Next, I think that it would be nice to bring in something that would spice up the corners a little. In order to bring another image into this image, all we need to do is to use the Place command by clicking File/Place and choosing the corner image. We now have the corner image. However, we first need to reduce the size somewhat by dragging the corner of the new image while holding down the Shift key like this. Holding the Shift key ensures that the proportions stay constant. When the right size is achieved, the Enter key is pressed. The Corner image has been placed as a Smart Object. The Move tool can now be used to move the image to the corner. Now, I realize that all that white in the corner doesn’t look too good. We’ll take care of that in a bit.

Obviously, we need to take care of the other three corners. To do this, we need to know how to duplicate Smart Objects. Lucky for us, Smart Objects are duplicated the same way as any other layer. We just drag the Smart Object layer to the Create New Layer Icon at the bottom of the Layers panel. Let’s rename this new layer as Corner 2 and move it to the left top corner. Of course, this image needs to be rotated by clicking Edit/Transform/Rotate 900 CCW. This process is repeated two more times to take care of the other two corners.

It is now time to take care of that ugly white in each corner. This can be done by double clicking one of the Corner Smart Object layers to edit its source content. Let’s rename the source contents. We can now start the editing. Let’s darken the image by choosing Image/Adjustments/Curves and pulling down on the Curve. Please note that we need to choose Curves from the Image menu rather than the Layer menu as we want to directly edit the image rather than create a Curves layer. Next, we launch the Color Range tool by choosing Select/Color Range. We then make sure that the Eyedropper tool is active and click on the whites. Choosing the Add to Sample tool and clicking on some of the lighter blues brings them into the selection. Last, increasing the Fuzziness setting to about 40 or 41 finishes the selection. Now that we have the selection, hitting the Delete key removes the white and lighter blues. We can now close this source content by pressing Control+W on a PC or Command+W on a Mac and clicking the Yes button.

Do you see what happened? This procedure removed not only the white from the Smart Object that we edited but from all four of the Corner images. Why is this? Well, when you duplicate a Smart Object, they are linked. Any image editing that you perform on one of them is automatically applied to all of the linked Smart Objects.

That brings up an interesting question. What if you want to duplicate a Smart Object, but you do not want the new Smart Object to be linked to the original Smart Object. To carry out this operation, simply select the layer that you want to duplicate, we will use the Doll layer, and choose Layer/Smart Objects/New Smart Object via Copy. Now, in order to demonstrate that these two doll layers are not linked, I am going to open the new layer, use Curves to seriously darken the layer, and then go back to the image.

It is obvious that this layer has been darkened. However, if we click the layer’s eye icon off, we see that the original Doll layer below has been unaffected by the darkening. In other words, the layers are not linked. Now, we are not actually going to use this darkened layer, so I will delete it.

Next, I want to add a border to this image. In order to save time, I have already created a border image. So, I will add it to this image by using the Place command in the same manner as when I added the corner image.

Okay, so far we have added some images using the Place command. However, all of the images that we have added were raster images. What if we wanted to add a vector image? No problem, in fact, let’s do that now. Let’s add a vector image called Tulip. We use the same Place command as before. Let us reduce the image and hit the enter key. Now, we need to flip the image. Then, we need to rotate it and move it into the doll’s hand. That seemed pretty simple. In fact, we handled this vector image pretty much the same way as we did with the raster images. So, what’s the big deal about vector images?

Well, there are two types of images: raster images and vector images. Most images that we deal with as photographers are raster images. Raster images are made up of pixels. On the other hand, vector images are not made up of pixels. Rather, vector images are made up of mathematical objects called vectors. What you are looking at when viewing a vector image are the colors that are plotted out as a result of the mathematical vectors.

The big deal when using Smart Objects with vector images is that Photoshop allows you keep vector images in the vector format. Without Smart Objects, the vector images would be rasterized. In other words, they would no longer be vector images. Why should we care if our vector images stay as vectors? We’ll answer that question in the next video. Then, a bit further in this series, we’ll finish working on our doll image.