Photoshop CC Tutorial: Smart Filters Are Simple

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Smart Filters are an insanely powerful and addictive feature of Photoshop that you absolutely MUST know about. They’re easy to implement and there is absolutely no reason not to be using them! I’ll explain what they’re all about in this tutorial!

Watch the full video tutorial here

1. Convert to a Smart Object

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Follow along with this tutorial using this exact stock photography from Unsplash. Before we can add a Smart Filter, we need to convert the layer to a Smart Object. You can do this with any layer by right clicking on the layer and choosing “Convert To Smart Object”.

2. Apply a Filter

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Applying any filter to a Smart Object is automatically a “Smart Filter”, this goes for blurring, sharpening, even things like perspective correction or liquify as well. Let’s go Filter>Pixelate>Mosaic and I’m going to really pixelate this photo.

3. Editing the Filter

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Here is the big advantage to Smart Filters: You can edit or get rid of them after the face. You can also mask them to a specific area, or even fade them as you wish. Edit the filter by double-clicking the name of the filter just below the Smart Filter mask in the layers panel. I’m going to increase the pixel cell size to 75 square.

4. Masking the Filter

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In this case I’m going to use the mask and make Lady Liberty go incognito because she doesn’t want to be seen or known. I do that by grabbing the Rectangular Marquee tool and dragging a selection over Lady Liberty and then clicking on the smart filter mask in layers panel and then going Select>Inverse to flip our selection and hit Cmd/Ctrl + I to flip the white in your layer mask to black and cover up the effect outside of the Statue of Liberty. Hit Cmd/Ctrl + D to deselect.

5. Final Filter Adjustments

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Just to play with the fade and blend settings, let’s double click the little sliders icon in the layers panel and try setting our filter to the filter of “Vivid Light” just so you could see some kind of difference. ADDITIONAL TIP: You can also use the adjustments under Image>Adjustments as smart filters that you can go back and edit as well!

That’s it! Go forth and try to begin using Smart Filters. They really are awesome!