Apr 29, 2005

Work Smart with Smart Objects


This is the result of replacing an image in the book using the new Smart Objects and Warp features in Photoshop CS2.

The Transform command in Photoshop allows you to scale and change the shape of an image. But one of the drawbacks of using this tool is that up until now, it has always been a one-way process in which the pixels inevitably become degraded as successive transforms are applied. The new Smart Object feature in Photoshop CS2 allows you to preserve the integrity of the image data by applying the transform changes to a proxy version of the image instead of editing the original pixels.

In the following tutorial Martin Evening shows you how to edit a Smart Object layer using the Transform tool in combination with the new Warp mode in Photoshop CS2.


Figure 1. The starting point here is a picture of an open book that has been photographed using natural daylight. Over the next few steps I will show you how to add a new image on a layer and then apply a warp transformation to make it match the appearance of the photograph on the right hand page.

Figure 2. When you add a new layer in Photoshop CS2 you can promote it to become a Smart Object via the Layers palette fly-out menu. Once a layer (or group of layers) has been grouped to become a Smart Object its status will be indicated by the Smart Object layer icon in the bottom right corner of the layer thumbnail icon. Once you have created a Smart Object you can carry out multiple transforms to the Smart Object layer without progressively degrading the pixels.


Figure 3. In this next step, the Smart Object layer was scaled down in size via the Image menu Transform command so that the photograph on the Smart Object layer was roughly the same size as the photograph in the book.


Figure 4. You can switch from the Transform mode to Warp mode by clicking on the button (circled) in the tool options bar. This button will allow you to toggle easily between the transform and warp modes. In the example shown here, I was able to use the corner warp handles to distort the Smart Object layer so that it matched the shape of the photograph on the page below.

Figure 5. Once I had warped the photograph, I needed to make sure it matched the lighting in the original photograph. To do this, I added a new curves adjustment layer above the Right page layer. I then created a clipping mask so that the Curves adjustment layer adjusted the Right page layer only. One easy way to create a clipping mask is to Option/Alt click the divider between the adjustment layer and image layer. To release a clipping mask, Option/Alt click on the divider again.

In this example I applied a curves adjustment to darken the image to match the original image’s lighting. I filled the adjustment layer mask with black to hide the adjustment effect and then selected the paintbrush, using white as the foreground color, to paint in the darkening adjustment across the left edge of the picture so that the photograph on the Right page layer matched the shading in the original photograph.


Figure 6. You can edit a Smart Object layer by double-clicking on the thumbnail image icon in the Layers palette. This will open the Smart Object layer as a separate document. In the example shown here, I added a new Hue/Saturation adjustment layer to colorize the image. Once you have finished editing the Smart Object layer, use File > Save or Command/Control-S to save any changes made. This will update the Smart Object layer in the master/parent image and if you wish you can now close the Smart Object image window.


Figure 7. In the final version shown here you can see all the changes that I made in which I replaced the photograph on the right hand page with a new one that matched the shape and lighting of the original and also matched the color of the photograph on the left hand page.


Martin Evening is the author of Photoshop CS2 for Photographers published by Focal Press. This new edition will be hitting the stores the third week of May, 2005.

Based in London, Martin is an advertising photographer and noted expert in both photography and digital imaging. As a successful photographer, Martin is well known in London for his fashion and beauty work. Check out Martin’s web site.

In addition, Martin is a principal of PixelGenius where he designed and was product manger for the recently released PhotoKit Color. PhotoKit Color applies precise color corrections, automatic color balancing and creative coloring effects. PhotoKit Color offers a comprehensive set of coloring tools for Photoshop 7.0 and Photoshop CS for both Macintosh and Windows.

Martin also works with the Adobe Photoshop engineering team consulting on new feature development and alpha and beta testing. He worked alpha & beta for Photoshop CS2 and was influential in the new Adobe Bridge and Camera Raw 3.0.




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