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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Get More From Smart Objects

Eliminate the dreaded do-over when your client changes his or her mind by making good use of this Photoshop feature

This Article Features Photo Zoom

2) The next step, after using the Pen tool to create a path of the natural shadows, was to turn the path into a selection. After making the selection, I added a new layer under the object as shown in the Layers panel.

3) I wanted the Lens Blur for the initial blur to be gradated. After filling the selection with black, I added a gradient in Quick Mask to make a mask for blurring. This Quick Mask was then turned into a selection and then saved as a new channel.

4) The main thing I did then was to apply the Lens Blur filter to the shadow alpha channel and run the Radius all the way up to 100. Meanwhile, I selected the above gradient as the Depth Map. This allowed the filter to be applied in a way to help simulate a more natural blur to the cast shadow, using the gradient to map the falloff of the blur.

5) The falloff of the gradation needed an additional tweak. For this, I used the Motion Blur filter to make sure the slightly less-than-perfectly drawn path’s shadows were softened even more. The angle was selected to mimic the natural lighting direction and the Distance amount adjusted to provide a directional blur. After applying the blur, I reduced the opacity to 50%.

6) A new layer was added, and using the main shadow’s opacity loaded as a selection (to keep any painting within the blurred main shadow), I added a second shadow layer to paint in a “close shadow” that would help ground the object and keep it from looking like it was floating.

7) I selected the object layer and two shadow layers. I then went to the Layers panel and chose “Convert to Smart Object” (as seen in the upper Layers panel view). This created a single Smart Object layer. I then selected the object and dragged and dropped it into the background image (as seen in the lower Layers panel view, which I was in the process of renaming). As you can see, the scale was incorrect. However, because this was a Smart Object, I could resize, rotate and reposition it anyway I (or the art director) wished. To resize, I just selected the Smart Object and applied a Free Transform command. However the object was transformed, it didn’t alter the object’s pixels.


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