Photoshop Tutorial – Smart Objects Inside Smart Objects
This video is available Free for Everyone.
We’ve discussed the wonder of Smart Objects, but it does get confusing for some people, especially for a beginner. This tutorial will teach you workarounds when it comes to working with Smart Objects, and will get rid of your fear of meddling with these seemingly tricky situations.
Smart Object as a Layer
Open up your raw file into Camera Raw. Hold down the SHIFT key and click the “Open Image” button, which now changes into the “Open Object” button. Inside Photoshop, you now have a Smart Object as a layer.
Let’s say that we want to create a clone out of certain elements in your image background. What you need to do is to create a new layer from the New Layer icon in your Layers palette. What pops up is a layer with a checkered icon, which simply means that there is nothing on this new layer.
With the new layer selected, click on your Clone Stamp Tool. Pick your source point, and start cloning the area you wish to clean out. When you’re done, you’ll see that all the changes you’ve made are stored in the new layer, leaving the original layer of your image untouched.
You can toggle the visibility of your layers with the eye icon, and when you hide the new layer where you made some cloning, you can still see your original image without the cloning effect. It’s nothing too complicated, really. It just simply creates a way for you to go back to your photo with a non-destructive workflow.
Editing the Background Image in CS6
So maybe throughout the course of your photo editing, you realize you want to make changes on the original image. You double-click on your Smart Object and it takes you back inside Camera Raw. After making adjustments, say, on the Exposure, you click OK and you’re taken back inside Photoshop. But what’s all this? You can clearly see the glaring disparity between your original image background layer and the new layer where you made your cloning. This happens because you made your Exposure adjustment on your original raw image, but not on the cloning layer, hence the exposure mishap. What’s up with that?
With Photoshop CS6 and below, you get stuck with this exposure mismatch and are thus limited to not making changes on your original raw file after you’ve made your cloning. What you can do instead of editing your original raw file is to create a new Adjustment Layer. You can click on the Exposure in the adjustment layers palette, which will create a new layer on top, where you can make a global exposure adjustment on both the original image and on the cloning layers below. Remember to place this new Adjustment Layer on top of both the original image and the cloning layer. This will then effectively solve your problem.
Editing the Background Image in CC
In Photoshop CC, however, you have something else entirely. Instead of making separate changes to your layers, hold the SHIFT key and select both your original image layer and the cloning layer. Click on the sidetab for more options in the upper right corner of your Layers palette, and you will see an option that says “Convert to Smart Object”. What this does is it merges both your original image layer and your cloning layer together into a single Smart Object.
Then, simply go to Filter – Camera Raw Filter. And what just happened? You are now taken back to Camera Raw with the ability to make your adjustments with both your original image and clone layer as a single Smart Object. Go ahead and make your Exposure adjustments and just click OK to apply. The original, and the clone layer, now match.
Smart Objects Inside Smart Objects
Still confused? Bear with me. After clicking OK, look at the structures inside your Layers palette. You now have one Smart Object that you combined earlier, and below that, you have a Smart Filter that says “Camera Raw Filter”, which is what you just did.
When you double-click on that Smart Object layer you combined and converted, you will be taken back to your original setup where you had one smart object for the background image, and one layer with only the cloning information on it. Double click on the smart object layer of the background image, and you will be taken back to your very first original raw file inside Camera Raw. How powerful is that? It’s a raw file inside of a Smart Object, where that Smart Object has that layer and a clone layer; both inside another Smart Object. It’s simply a folder structure. You have now applied changes without really damaging your original photo, and with a wonderful way to go back and forth to all your adjustments without having to start from scratch and throw your efforts away.
To sum it all up
This method simply allows you to create adjustments and filters on smart objects as a group, instead of going one by one per layer every time you need to redo or undo something, or whenever you change your mind. It might seem confusing at this point, but constant practice with this folder structure and layer hierarchy will help you work non-destructively and will mean the world to you, especially when you make more and more adjustments when retouching.
To learn more about our complete 2 Hour Photoshop Class that this video comes from, simply go to Portraits, Camera Raw, and Smart Objects. Change the way you work on your portraits. It’s Free. Enjoy.
This Adobe Photoshop Tutorial answers the question: How to use Smart Objects Inside Smart Objects? If you would like to learn more about Photo Enhancement from a Professional Retoucher, I offer Adobe Photoshop Classes. Please contact me today, and I will be able to add you to the schedule too. If you would just like to watch online videos, The Art of Retouching Studio offers many Photoshop Tutorials for Beginners and Advanced users.