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Photoshop Tutorial: Taking advantage of Smart Filters in Photoshop CS6

What you’ll learn in this Photoshop Tutorial:

  • Smart Filter options
  • Enabling and disabling effects

This tutorial provides you with a foundation for working with Adobe Photoshop smart filters. It is the eleventh lesson in the Adobe Photoshop CS6 Digital Classroom book. For more Adobe Photoshop training options, visit AGI’s Photoshop Classes.

Photoshop Tutorial: Taking advantage of Smart Filters in Photoshop CS6

The filters you applied in the last section were destructive, meaning that any changes you made using these filters affected your original image data. As you discovered in Lesson 10, “Getting Smart in Photoshop,” Smart Filters are a non-destructive way to apply filters to an image. In this lesson, you will practice applying filters using the Smart Filter feature.

Applying a Smart Filter

1 Select the monster3 layer in the Layers panel.

2 Choose Filter > Convert for Smart Filters. A warning dialog box may appear, advising you that the layer will be made into a Smart Object. Press OK.

A Smart Object icon appears in the lower-right corner of the monster 3 layer thumbnail. This indicates that this layer is now converted for use with Smart Filters. Next, you will apply some filters in the Filter Gallery, and then update and change the way the filters are applied to the image.

The Smart Object icon on the layer thumbnail.

3 Make sure that the monster3 layer is still selected, and then choose Filter > Filter Gallery. Make sure you do not select the Filter Gallery listed first in the Filter menu.

Note that the last filters you used are applied to the layer by default, although these can be changed.

4 Click on the Craquelure filter effect in the list of filter effects in the lower-right side of the Filter Gallery dialog box.

5 In the filter categories section, expand the Artistic category and select Plastic Wrap. The Plastic Wrap filter replaces the Craquelure filter.

6 Click on the Fresco filter effect and then select the Sponge filter effect from the Artistic category. The Sponge effect replaces the Fresco effect.

7 Using the sliders, in the filter effects options, change the Brush size to 0, the Definition to 6 and the Smoothness to 2. Press OK.

A thumbnail appears underneath your monster3 layer named Smart Filters.

The image now has texture applied. Two filters have been applied.

You have just applied filters from the Filter Gallery to the monster3 layer, much the same way you applied filters to the monster1 and monster2 layers. The difference is that you converted monster3 to a smart object before applying the filters. This offers you the opportunity to make changes, or even delete the filters at a later time.

8 In the Layers panel, double-click on Filter Gallery located underneath the monster3 layer. The Filter Gallery dialog box opens again.

Editing a Smart Filter.

9 In the filter effects area, select Plastic Wrap from the list of applied filters.

10 Using the sliders in the Plastic Wrap effect options, change the Highlight Strength to 20, the Detail to 1 and the Smoothness to 1.

11 In the filter effects area of the Filter Gallery, drag Plastic Wrap below Sponge. This changes the filter order, and creates a different effect. Press OK.

Changing the order of the filters.

12 Choose File > Save.

Smart Filter options

Next, you will explore additional filter options. You’ll start by fading the filters and by editing the Smart Filter Blending Options. You will then discover how to disable a filter and how to take advantage of the Filter effects mask thumbnail.

1 In the Layers panel, right-click (Windows) or Ctrl+click (Mac OS) on Filter Gallery, located under the monster3 layer Smart Filter. Select Edit Smart Filter Blending Options from the contextual menu.

Editing the Blending options.

Like the Fade option used earlier in this lesson, the Smart Filter blending options allow you to control the intensity of a filter. However, this method is non-destructive. You can change the Fade settings multiple times and not impact the original image. You can also access the Blending Options at any time, unlike the Fade dialog box, which had to be accessed immediately after applying a filter to a regular (non-smart) layer.

2 In the Blending Options dialog box, click and drag the opacity slider to the left, lowering the opacity to 60 percent. Click the Preview checkbox on, and then off, to see the change that has been applied to the image, then press OK.

Editing the Blending options.


Smart Filter Blending Options with the specified opacity.

3 Choose File > Save.

These tutorials are created by and the team of expert instructors at American Graphics Institute.