Transcript for Smart Objects -- Part I Video

Narration by Ron Bigelow

Photoshop CS4 Used in this Tutorial

Hello, I would like to welcome you to this video series on Smart Objects. I am Ron Bigelow, and I will be your host throughout this series. In order to get underway with this topic, we should probably begin with a definition. Basically, Smart Objects are just layers. However, Smart Objects are not ordinary layers; these layers have very unique properties.

The most important thing to understand about Smart Objects is that a Smart Object completely preserves the image data. In other words, no matter what you do to a Smart Object, there is always a copy of the original data. Thus, Smart Objects can always access the original data. Consequently, editing with Smart Objects is nondestructive.

As a result of this, Smart Objects have five unique properties. First, Smart Objects allow for nondestructive editing of images that were created as Smart Objects in Camera Raw.

Second, Smart Objects allow for nondestructive transformations. Thus, you can make rotations, distortions, scale changes, or many other transformations without the degradation that would occur if they were done without Smart Objects.

Third, Smart Objects allow you to edit vector objects while keeping the data in its vector format.

Fourth, Smart Objects allow for the use of nondestructive filtering. In other words, with Smart Objects, we can apply filters, such as Unsharp mask, in a nondestructive way.

Last, with Smart Objects, we can edit one Smart Object and all linked Smart Objects will automatically be updated with the edits.

On the other hand, Smart Objects create one challenge. Smart Objects require you to think a bit differently than you do when using regular layers. For those not familiar with Smart Objects, the way in which one works with Smart Objects may, at times, seem a bit unusual. However, once you have developed some experience with Smart Objects, it all becomes second nature. Overall, using Smart Objects is a great way to work in Photoshop. In fact, it’s, well, the smart thing to do. So, let’s get started.

Let’s begin by looking at how Smart Objects allow for nondestructive editing of images that are created as Smart Objects with Camera Raw. Fortunately, I have a raw file just waiting for us. We can access this file by choosing File/Open and accessing the file. The raw file is quickly opened in Camera Raw. The image shows a leaf on a boardwalk on a brisk winter morning. Right now, the image looks rather flat. We’ll work on that in a bit. The first thing that we need to do is make sure that the image will be opened in Photoshop as a Smart Object. For that, we need to click on the Workflow Options below the image. Now, there are several Options available here. On the other hand, we are mainly interested in one of them. We need to make sure that the Open in Photoshop as Smart Objects box is checked. Clicking OK brings us back to the Camera Raw dialogue box. Now, let’s get started on this image.

This image is a bit too bright, and it needs some contrast. Lucky for us, we can edit the image nondestructively. The key here is that editing in Camera Raw is nondestructive. So, I think that we will start the editing of this image in Camera Raw, and we will start by decreasing the exposure to - 0.30. Then, we will move the Blacks adjustment to set the shadow point.

That was a good start, but we need to add some more contrast. Let’s click on Tone Curve and set the sliders like this: shadows -37, Darks -41, Lights 18, and Highlights 8.

Now, let’s take a look at the image in Photoshop.

Hey, I think that we are off to a good start here. Now, notice that we have our image with one layer. The way that we know that we have a Smart Object layer is by the tiny Smart Object symbol in the lower right hand corner of the layer icon.

Next, we need to evaluate the image to determine our next steps. The contrast looks pretty good, but we should increase the saturation a bit. In Addition, I detect a minor blue color cast that we need to deal with. In other words, we have some more editing work to do. This is where the beauty of Smart Objects comes in. We can continue to edit the image nondestructively by reopening the image in Camera Raw. All we have to do is double click the Smart Object layer.

Now, it is important to understand the significance of what we just did. Since we are working with a Smart Object, we were able to go back into Camera Raw to continue the editing. This means that our new edits will be nondestructive. If we were not working with a Smart Object, we could not have gone back into Camera Raw.

Now, let’s get on with our edits. We need to bump up the saturation to about 20%.

With our last edit, let’s take care of the blue color cast. Now, I do not want to remove the blue cast completely. The blue cast helps give the image a feeling of a cold, brisk morning. On the other hand, I do want to reduce the blue cast somewhat in order to warm up the leaf’s colors. Let’s increase the temperature from about 5,700 to about 6,200.

We now head back to Photoshop.

So, we have carried out multiple edits, and it has all been done nondestructively. Furthermore, we could continue to edit like this all day. No matter how many times we went back into Camera Raw, no matter how many edits we made, no matter how strong the edits were, it would always be nondestructive.

Okay, this all works great if an image starts off as a raw file that we open in Camera raw, but what happens when we already have an image in Photoshop and it is not a Smart Object? No need to worry; we’ll deal with that in the next video.