Smart Filters

Photoshop CS3, both Standard and Extended, offers the new Smart Filers. This is a huge excitement when it comes to editing in Photoshop, as it follows the trend of non-destructive editing and bringing it to the area classed by many as the most destructive. So lets take a good look at the Smart Filters in Photoshop that really deserves the name, smart!

In this tutorial I am going to use an image, found in the sample images folder of Photoshop (Find it by going to the Photoshop directory and under Samples).

Apply a smart filter

To make the filters, Smart Filters, you need to go under Filter > Convert for Smart Filters. This will make your layer into a smart object. When you do this, Photoshop will pop-up with a warning that you are making it a smart object, so don’t worry because that is precisely what you want, so you can check the Don’t show again box at the bottom before you hit OK should you so wish.

Smart Filters Tutorial - Image 1

Now, you can just apply any of the filters in the Filter menu and they will be applied as a smart filter. So lets take our example image, and apply a Smudge Stick filter. Just apply it with the default settings.

Smart Filters Tutorial - Image 2

Edit the smart filter

Now we can se the smart filter under the layer. So lets break up the way it is added.

Smart Filters Tutorial - Image 3

First we have a layer mask that you can use to hide and show the contents of the filters. The mask, works just like any other layer mask. Under that, we have the filters themselves. You can add multiple filters as well, and reorder them by just dragging them up or down in the list. You can also use the eye icon, to hide and show the filter.

To edit it, just double click on the filter name.

Smart Filters Tutorial - Image 4

So lets also take a look at the little sliders icon, on the right side, which allows you to change opacity and blending options, of the filter (Just note, we are not changing the layer opacity or layer blend mode, just the effect itself). Now you might remember we could do that before, directly after editing using the Fade command. But it didn’t have at all as much control as this way. Now you can do this, at any time with the smart filter assigned, and also edit it after as well, it is all non-destructive (You can also bring up the blending options for the filter by right clicking (Control clicking) and selecting “Edit Smart Filter Blending Options”).

Now in the dialog box, I think we can archive a pretty cool effect by choosing the Soft Light blend mode at 100% opacity, so that is what I am going to use and it renders our final result.


I hope you have learned some things about the new smart filters in this little tutorial, and that you are ready to play around with these new ways of editing your images!