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Photoshop CC: The Missing Manual by Lesa Snider

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The Joy of Smart Filters

Filters, by their very nature, are destructive—they move, mangle, distress, and distort pixels like you wouldn’t believe, and they always run on the currently active layer, mask, or selection. Before Photoshop CS3, the only way to protect your image—and retain any level of editing flexibility—was to duplicate the Image layer first and then run the filter on the copy. That way, you could lessen the filter’s effect by reducing the duplicate layer’s opacity or hide the filter from parts of the image using a layer mask. However, as you know from Chapter 4, duplicating layers can bloat your Layers panel, and then there’s the extra step of adding a layer mask. Yuck.

Then along came Photoshop CS3 with its nifty Smart Filters. If you convert a layer—or multiple layers—into a Smart Object before applying a filter, you can make the filter run in its own special spot in the Layers panel (similar to layer styles), complete with blend mode and opacity controls. It even comes with a layer mask.

Smart Filters are the best thing since sliced bread, and in Photoshop CC, more filters take advantage of that capability than ever before; new to the Smart Filter family are the Liquify, Field, Iris, and Tilt-Shift Blur filters. That said, Vanishing Point and Lens Blur work only on regular Image layers (ones that haven’t been converted to Smart Objects); to use one of these filters, just do things the old-fashioned way: Duplicate your Image layer and then run the filter on the copy. ...

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