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2.2 Non-Destructive Editing

Working with Adjustment Layers, Layer Masks and Smart Objects can help you edit your projects non-destructively, which will save you a lot of hassle in the future.

2.2 Non-Destructive Editing

Hey everyone, and welcome back. In the last video, you guys learned about layers, how to create them, how to group them, and how to filter them. Well in this video, we're gonna take a look at a few different kinds of layers and how they can help you edit your projects non-destructively. We're gonna being looking at adjustment layers, smart objects, and layer masks. [BLANK_AUDIO] Before I show you the magic of adjustment layers, let's look at the mistake many beginners make when editing their photos. Under the Image menu, we have the Adjustments submenu, which contains many adjustments that will help take your images to the next level. Let's start by selecting the Black and White adjustment, and from the Preset list, I'm gonna choose Darker to sharpen up the contrast. Now, pressing OK will apply this adjustment and convert it to a black and white image. Now here's the problem. Well, at this point, if we decided that the image looked better with color, we can simply undo the adjustment. But, what if were much further along in our edit, or we saved and closed the document? Well when that happens, you're out of luck. If you apply adjustments to your images directly from the Adjustments menu, they are applied directly to your image. So if you wanted to make changes to that adjustment or you wanted to completely remove it later on in your edit, well, tough luck. Now let's look at how adjustment layers completely changes the way you edit your photos. It all starts in your Layers panel. Right at the bottom, the black and white circle is the Adjustment Layer icon. When selected, you're gonna notice many of the same adjustments that you had access to under the Adjustments menu. Minus a few here, and there. Just like before, I'm gonna add the black and white adjustment, and select the darkened preset. It's the exact same adjustment. But this time, instead of the adjustment being applied directly to your image, an adjustment layer was added in our Layers panel. Let me add one more. This time, I'm gonna add a Gradient Map. And then in my Properties panel, I'm gonna choose one of Photoshop's CS6's new photographic tone and presets. Again, notice how a new layer has been added which contains the Gradient Map adjustment. If you haven't figured out the advantage of using adjustment layers yet, because the adjustments are added as separate layers rather than direct adjustments, at any point in the future, you can simply click on the adjustment you wanna make changes to. And back in the Properties panel, you'll find your settings just as you left them. And if you decide you wanna either hide that adjustment layer at some point in the future or delete it completely, you can do that with just one click. And because your adjustments are applied as a separate layer, you can also adjust the blend modes and opacity to give a different look to your images. For example, I can grab the Gradient Map adjustment layer. Change the blend mode and then decrease the opacity if I feel it's necessary. None of this would be possible if I simply added that gradient map as a standard adjustment. So far so good, right? Adjustment layers are pretty simple to figure out, but you may run into an issue when working with a document that contains many layers like this one. Let's say you wanted to use an adjustment layer to change the color of this button to avoid editing the gradient. Just like you would add any adjustment layer, adding a hue and saturation adjustment can change the color of your layers. However, you're gonna notice that as I change the hue value, not only does the button's color change, but everything else under the adjustment changes as well. Clearly this isn't what I intended. Here's how to fix a situation like this. First, make sure that the adjustment layer is right above the layer, or group, containing the layers that you want to effect. Once it's in place, make sure that the adjustment layer is selected. And then in your Properties panel, this icon right here will clip the adjustment layer to the layer or group directly below it leaving all other layers as they were. And that's the first non-destructive method we're gonna be taking a look at, adjustment layers. Next, let's take a look at layer masks and how they can help you hide and show parts of your images without ruining the original pixels. Think of a layer mask as a non-destructive eraser. You're soon gonna able to remove parts of your layer and still have the ability to bring them back later on in your edit. The basic rule of thumb for layer masks is that everything black will be hidden while everything white will remain visible. This first example will demonstrate exactly how a layer mask works in its simplest form. In the Layers panel, I have the background layer selected. First, let's convert it to an editable layer by holding down Alt or option and then double clicking the layer. Good. Now, to show you the traditional way of removing parts of an image, I'm gonna grab my Eraser tool, or shortcut key E, and simply erase the areas of this image that I want removed. Now, just like applying an adjustment from the Adjustments menu, the original image is being modified, which means unless you have a duplicate of your image, you can't bring back those erased areas later on. Certainly, not a smart way to edit. Now let's look at layer masks. There's a few ways to add a layer mask to your image but the quickest way is to click on the Add Layer Mask icon at the bottom of your Layers panel. Notice that when the icon is clicked, a white box is added to the active layer. This is your layer mask. As I mentioned before, black is hidden, white is visible. So at the current time, the layer's contents are 100% visible. Now that the layer mask has been added, instead of using the Eraser tool, brushes can be used instead to paint the areas that I want to hide. So with a black brush active, painting on the layer will hide the areas that are no longer needed. The result looks exactly the same as it did when I use the eraser. So what's the big difference? Well now, because a layer mask is being used to hide the unwanted areas, at any point in the future, you wanna bring those areas back, you can simply switch to a white brush and paint them back in. It's as simple as that. Let's look at another example. I'm gonna go ahead and add a hue and saturation adjustment layer. And then adjust the hue until we have a nice funky effect. So here's the question, if we were working with only one layer, and want the adjustment to be applied to a specific part of our image, how can that be done? Well if you take a look at the adjustment layer that was just added, you may notice that a layer mask has also been added as well. This allows us to control which portions of the adjustment is hidden and what remains visible. In a situation like this, you have to ask yourself, which area is larger? The portion that you want hidden or visible? In this case the area that I want hidden is larger, so it's actually easier to start with the whole adjustment hidden. To do this, make sure that the layer mask is selected, and then fill your document with black. If black is your background color, which you can do by pressing the D key on your keyboard. And then if you're on your Mac, hold down your Cmd key and press Delete. If you're on Windows, hold down Ctrl and press Backspace. This will completely hide the adjustment allowing to now use a white brush to paint in the areas that you want visible again. Of course, if you're working with a complex area and you prefer to create a selection instead of using a brush, you're free to do so as well. Once a selection made, filling it with white will reveal the hidden adjustment. So, now that a layer mask has been added and defined, what else can you do with it? Well, let's start simple. Right clicking on the layer masks thumbnail in your Layers panel will allow you to disable or completely delete the layer mask. When disabled, the layer mask turns off, as if it were never added. So anything that was hidden will now be visible again. If you wanna re-enable it, you can either right-click again or hold down your Shift key and click on the layer masks thumbnail. You can also delete the layer mask completely by either selecting delete layer mask in the menu, or simply dragging it to the Trash icon at the bottom of your Layers panel. Another helpful feature that's available when dealing with your layer mask, is the option to refine the mask. For example, if you masked out an area using a hard brush. And now want the edges of the mask a bit softer, refining the mask can help achieve that. When the layer mask is selected, up in your Properties panel, you can see the refined mask settings. The two options that are initially visible, are density and filter. Density is almost like contrast, where a higher value produces a greater separation between white and black. Decreasing the density, washes out the mask, resulting in less affective result. Feather will help soften out your edges. As you increase the feather radius, the edges of your mask become softer and softer. But if that still isn't enough, you also have access to the Refined Mask tool. Which is just like refine edge, which you're gonna see in a future video when we cover selections. The nice thing about layer masks is that they can be added to pretty much any type of layer, from text to vector shapes, and even groups. So at any point you wanna hide a portion of your layers, don't grab the eraser. Add a layer mask instead. One of the advantages of smart objects is pixel preservation. I'm sure many of you have found yourself in the following situation. You have a rasterized layer in your document that you wanna shrink. So you enter Free Transform mode with the Cmd or Ctrl+T shortcut, and then precede to scale the layer down. However, later on in your edit, you take a look and decide, well I want it to be a little bit bigger or back to the original size. So again, you enter Free Transform mode and scale it back up. Unfortunately, when working with raster layers, scaling upwards usually results in heavy pixelation. Let me show you how working with a smart object can preserve the original pixels and avoid situations like this. Going back to before I scaled down the layer, I'm gonna want to convert this layer into a smart object. This can be easily done by right clicking on your layer in the Layers panel and choosing the Convert to Smart Object option. Essentially, what this is doing is preserving the original layer within a document within your document. Makes sense, right? Okay, probably not. But you'll soon understand it completely. So now, if I scale down the layer again, I accept the transformation, and then decide later on that I want it larger again, I'm able to safely scale that layer back up without losing quality. Now here's the thing about smart objects that you should be aware of. Once the layer has been converted to a smart object, it's not directly editable. If I grab my Brush tool and try to paint on this object, I'm gonna be presented with a pop-up yelling at me that the layer must be rasterized first. If you want to edit a layer that was converted to a smart object, you must double-click on the smart object's thumbnail in the Layers panel which will open up your layer in its containing document. You can see at the top that a new tab has opened with the original layer. Any editing that you want done to the smart object must be done in its containing document. So, just to show you how it works, I'm gonna again grab my Brush tool and scribble over this layer. Now, keep in mind that the changes don't automatically get made. You must first save the document, just like you would any other file. Up to the File menu and then Save. Now if I hop back over to my original document, you can see the changes. Here's another thing to note about smart objects. Because the layer is contained within an embedded document, if you have duplicates of the smart object, editing the source will also update the duplicates. This could be very useful if you're working on, let's say, an icon pack and you want all instances of the icon to update. Let me show you how that would work. Here's a document that contains an icon that I've been working on. In the Layers panel, you can see that I have several layers that make up this icon that are contained within a group. First, I must convert the group to a smart object. Just like before, I can right-click on the group and then convert the group to a smart object. Again, once this happens, the contents are no longer editable unless you double-click on the smart object's thumbnail. But well get to that point in a moment. Now, to duplicate the icon with the smart object selected, I'm gonna hold down my Option key on the Mac or Alt key on Windows, and drag it to the right. Now, I'm gonna transform it downward so I can preview what it would look like at a smaller size. Perfect. So, now that we have a duplicate of the icon, let's go ahead and edit one of them. Because the smart object was duplicated, it doesn't matter which one we edit. Double clicking on either of the smart objects thumbnails will open up the same source file. Now that the source is visible, I'm gonna make a pretty simple change using an adjustment layer. Right above the layers that contain the blue glowing lines, I'm gonna add a hue and saturation adjustment layer, and then shift the hue slider to the left until the lines turn orange. Because the other layers underneath are pretty much black and grey, I won't need to clip this adjustment layer. Good. So now that the changes have been made, I can quickly save the document with my Cmd or Ctrl+S shortcut, and you're gonna notice that when I hop back over to the original document, both of the icons have been updated. This will certainly save you a lot of time, especially if you're working on a project that contains many instances of the same design. But of course, you're probably wondering, well what if I want to duplicate a smart object that doesn't share the same source. Well, simple. Instead of simply duplicating the smart object like we just did, right-click on it in the Layers panel, and choose New Smart Object via Copy. This will duplicate that smart object, with its own source, so you can update it separately from the original. Now the last advantage of smart objects that I wanna show you, is how they work with filters. Just like adding an adjustment from the image Adjustments menu, when you add a filter to rasterized layer, just like I'm doing now, it's applied directly to that layer. So if you wanted to tweak the settings of that filter at a later time, it's nearly impossible. However, when working with smart objects, filters are added similar to adjustment layers, where you can go back and edit them later on. So on this image here, assuming I wanna edit non-destructively. I'm gonna convert this layer to a smart object by right clicking on it, and choose Convert to Smart Object. And then I'm gonna add the filter again. Now you might notice that not all filters are available when working with smart objects. Most are, but some will be grayed out. Now when I accept the changes to this blur filter, take a look at the Layers panel. The filter that I just added shows up underneath the layer. And just like adjustment layers, at any point, I wanna edit the settings of that blur, I can simply double-click on it, make my changes and press OK. Of course, it can also be hidden or completely deleted if necessary. And that's non-destructive editing in Photoshop. Implementing these practices will not only save you time, but a lot of hassle as well. We'll see you in the next video.

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