A Tip and A Spooky Freebie

Lesa Snyder’s 4-Day ‘Photoshop CS5 Intensive’ wrapped up today.  Lesa is so knowledgeable!  She explains things so thoroughly!  I missed the first day, but, with what I already know, hopefully, it would have been ‘old news’.  LOL  I doubt it.  One can always learn something new!  Some of the things she has taught that I did know, she has offered an understanding of why it works, or how, so, that is always nice.  Understanding the where-to’s and what-for’s has always done the trick for me in remembering stuff.  So, go Lesa!  LOL
One of the areas I haven’t really learned yet in PS is ‘Smart Objects’.  Somewhere, I got the notion that they were some special trick that everyone but myself knew.  I caught that they were editable, but, I thought images already were if you saved the layers.  It depends on what you do to an image, I guess.  I learned how to use the ‘Adjustments’ on a separate layer so these could be turned off if desired.  But, I did wonder about ‘Filters’ and some other things on a separate layer.  That is exactly where Smart Objects rule!
Even if you are scared, like me, to try something new and tense-sounding, here is a super easy way to show you how they work.  I Googled ‘wild flowers’ and got the poppy image from Kyle Veldhouse.com. 
So, ready?
Open your image.  Right-click over the layer and click ‘Convert to Smart Object’ from the menu.  This is necessary in order to be able to apply a non-destructive adjustment.  Next, go up to ‘Filters’-‘Blur’-‘Gaussian Blur’ and set it to the amount of blur you wish.  This will depend on your image.  For mine, I chose a setting of 3 point 4.  When you click ‘Okay’, look at the ‘Layers palette’.  Now, there is a layer beneath our image, with a mask.
You can see, in my screen shot, that there is a small circular black spot on the mask.  That is the next step.  Just select a soft round brush and be sure the foreground color is black.  By using black on my mask, I am ‘erasing’ the blur over just the red flower(even tho the filter is ‘below’ my image).  Zoom in close and get the details on the edges for a more realistic look.  By using a mask, if you make a mistake, just hit ‘X’ and the black and white will reverse.  ‘White reveals – black conceals’ the image the mask is applied to.  I’m not really erasing it.  I’m covering it up.  This is what I get.
Ta-da!  I’ve added the blur all over, except over the one red flower!  This is kind of a simplified technique, but, look at the possibilities now with the image.  Say, I later tired of so much blur.  All I have to go is go back to my image file(be sure to save it as a .PSD document).  I can click on the ‘Gaussian Blur’ layer and still make adjustments!  There is no need to keep a copy of my poppy image since I already have one in this file.  No adjustments what-so-ever have been applied directly to the image.  Rather, all the adjustments, filters, etc, are on separate layers. 

If you’re wondering what the attraction to all this is, the ultimate goal of Photoshop learning is to do all of your adjustments and fixes, to all your lovely photos and/or creations, non-destructively!  Having your tweeks and filters and all that stuff on separate layers from your image is so nice!  A prime example of needing this set-up is those times when you are half way through, say, a beautifully textured paper and you don’t like one part of it.  If you’ve Blurred it or applied any other ‘destructive’ technique to any part of what you are doing, it can’t be ‘undone’.  Not unless, that is, you just did it!  I have applied Gaussian Blur to different layers of something I’m working on so many times, it’s insane!  I had to delete that layer and go find the texture, or whatever, that I had, so, I can try a different filter or adjustment on it.  By doing things with Smart Objects, I would merely have to delete the filter layer and do another.

I realize this is but one teeny-tiny way that you can use Smart Objects, but, getting a good basic concept of how they work really does help!  I found that, after I grasped this concept, the rest of Lesa’s class made so much more sense to me!  I had no idea what Smart Objects were all about!  LOL

Give it a try!  If Smart Objects are new to you, too, you’ll begin to see the importance of using them.

I can’t leave without a little something for you all.  This is a set of six papers, grunged out, each bearing a different spooky, Hallowe’en-y symbol.  I did them just for fun and just for ya’ll.  I don’t know what you might use them for, but, do with them as you like.  The texture came from LostandTaken.com.  The symbols are shapes from ActionFX.com

Speaking of ActionFX.com, if you head on over there, right now, you can get a year of his super Photoshop goodies for $16.95!  Can you believe that price!  But, hurry, ’cause Al is getting the site all loaded up and refurbished, then, his prices will go up.  It’s worth it either way.  You name a pre-set, ie brushes, patterns, styles, actions, etc., Al has it – lots of it!  He caters, too, to the scrapbookers, as well.  There are tutorials, plus, he has a custom photography service that yields some beautiful pictures!  Oh, and his terms are that you can use use his stuff commercially.

I got side-tracked!  Sorry!  It’s just that Al is one Hell of a great guy!  LOL

Anyway!  Click on the preview to go to Minus.com to download the papers, if you like them!

Until next time…
Dance on into Autumn!
  Winter is on her way!
Hugs,
Su

SU CheshireCat

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