Skip to main content

Photoshop – Quick Tips 4

Written by adminCGT on .

Part 4 of this Photoshop Quick Tips Tutorial covers:

  • Applying a custom warp
  • Chameleon Keystrokes
  • Smart Objects
  • Things to watch out for when adding layers

Workaround Warp

Do you sometimes wish that you could apply a custom warp to your live type? Just put your live type into a smart object, apply a custom warp to the smart object, and your type comes along for the ride.

The advantage, of course, is that warping a smart object is not destructive and you can change the type (or the warp) at any time. Here’s how:

Open a new blank document, choose Layer>Smart Objects>Group into New Smart Object, then double-click on the little “object” in the layer thumbnail. In the new window, choose the Type tool (T), enter your text, and press the Commit check mark, close this windows, then choose Save. Your text is now part of the smart object. Choose Edit>Transform>Warp and you can now drag on the bounding box points to warp your text. Press the Commit check mark when you’re satisfied.

If you really need to distort and mangle your type with a custom warp, you lose no quality by adding the type to a smart object and keeping the type live. Of course, you can always use one of the preset warp styles, such as Flag, by clicking on the Warp Text icon up in the Options Bar.

Chameleon Keystrokes

1. Hold the Option (PC: Alt) key to change the lasso tool to the Polygonal Lasso tool and vice versa.

2. Hold the Option (PC: Alt) key to change the pen tool to the freeform pen tool. Note: This command doesn’t work the other way around.

3. Holding the Option (PC: Alt) key in the liquify filter can change the Push Left tool to the Push Right tool and the Twirl Clockwise tool to the Twirl Counterclockwise tool.

4. Pressing the Option (PC: Alt) key with the active Brush tool changes the tool into the Eyedropper tool so you can sample a new Foreground colour.

5. Hold the Option (PC: Alt) key as you use the Render>Clouds filter to create clouds with much higher contrast.

Smart Objects

In Photoshop, you can choose Layer>Smart Objects>Group into New Smart Object to encapsulate one or more layers into a single layer that’s known as a “smart object” (or choose File>Place to import the layers from an external file). If you duplicate that smart object layer multiple times, each duplicate refers back to the same original. Then, if you change the original (by double-clicking on the thumbnail image for any one of the duplicates in the Layers palette), all the duplicates will update because they all refer back to the one you just edited.

This feature is great when a logo or design element is used multiple times in a single document and might need to be changed later, but it can be problematic when used in the multiple document challenge. When you’re using the same smart object in multiple documents (by dragging between documents with the Move tool) and you’d like to have changes that you made to one smart object reflect in the other documents, here’s what to do:

First, make changes to one of the smart objects and save those changes so they appear in one document. Next, with the updated smart object active, choose Layer>Smart Objects>Export Contents and save the smart object as an independent document. Now switch to the second document, and with the smart object layer active, choose Layer>Smart Objects>Replace Contents and point Photoshop to the file you just saved (repeat this for any other files containing the smart object).

Watch for added layers

If you add a layer to a smart object that was created by “placing” an image (File>Place) and the file you placed is in a file format that doesn’t support layers, you can run into trouble. For instance, let us say you placed a JPEG image as a smart object via the File>Place command and then decided to edit the resulting smart object. If you add a layer while editing that JPEG-derived smart object, then the image can’t be saved back into its original file format (because JPEG doesn’t support layers). When you attempt to save the smart object back into its parent document, you’ll be presented with the standard Save As dialogue and when you click Cancel and try to switch back to the original document, you’ll get a warning asking if you want to rasterize the smart object before proceeding. (Rasterizing cause the layers that make up the smart object to be merged into a single layer.)

There are two ways to get around this problem:

Discard Layers – If you don’t need to retain the layers for future editing, then choose Layer>Flatten Image to merge all the layers in the document before saving the edits back into the smart object.

Retain Layers – If you’d like to retain the layers you’ve added, type Command-S (PC: Control-S), which will present you with the Save As dialogue. Save the image in a format that supports layers, such as a TIFF or PSD file. After closing the newly saved document, you’ll be prompted with the warning that indicates the smart object must be rasterized. At that point, just click Cancel to abort the editing process. Then, once you’re back in the original document, choose Layer>Smart Objects>Replace Contents and point Photoshop to the layered file you just saved.

Once you’re done replacing the contents of the smart object, you can throw away the file you saved earlier, because its contents are now embedded into the Photoshop image you’re now working on.

Article courtesy of Adobe Photoshop Magazine