Quick Tip - Use Smart Objects with Non Destructive Filters in Photoshop

March 21, 2013 by in category Quick Tips with 4 and 0

In this Quick Tip, we’ll learn how to use Smart Objects in Photoshop and apply non destructive Filters to those objects.

Smart Objects can be very useful in Photoshop to work non destructively on a projects or on part of a project, when you convert any layers to a Smart Object, you can apply Layer Styles or Filters on it without affecting the original artwork.

The Great thing about using those Smart Objects is that you can modify the parameters of the Filters you’ve applied at any time, modify the Opacity and Blending Options of each Filters also deleting or rearranging the order of those filters very easily. You can’t do that when for example you apply a Gaussian Blur Filter on a simple layer, the layer will be blurred for good. Here’s a few tips on how to use those Smart Objects with Filters in Photoshop.

Step 1 – Convert to Smart Object

Load any image you want to work on in Photoshop, select one or multiple layers in the Layer panel, right click on them and select – Convert to Smart Object.

Step 2 – Non Destructive Filters

Now we converted our layer(s) to a Smart Object, start to apply a few filter on this Smart Object, for the first one I applied a 7,5px Radius Gaussian Blur Filter, Filter – Blur – Gaussian Blur. To modify the parameters of a filter just double click on the name of the filter the Layers panel.

Next I applied an Emboss Filter, with a 90° Angle, 1px Height and 100% Amount, Filter – Stylize – Emboss on this same Smart Object.

To add more effect I added a third filter, a Motion Blur Filter with a -90° Angle and 200px Distance, Filter – Blur – Motion Blur.

Like I said at the beginning of this quick tip, you can easily modify the Opacity and Blending Mode of each Filters on the Smart Object, to do that, double click on the little icon next to the filter in the layers panel like below :

I changed the opacity of the Motion Blur Filter to 15%

Like any layer you can also add some Layer Styles on a Smart Object, I added a subtle dots pattern from a Basic Shapes Photoshop Patterns Pack I released with those parameters:

This is just a little example of what can be done using Filters on Smart Objects, try to experiment with different Filters and Layer Styles on your Smart Objects all with a non destructive process. There’s just a little number of filters you can’t apply on those Smart Objects like the new Blur Tools or the Liquify Tool in Photoshop CS6.

Leave us a comment if you’ve got some requests for the next Quick Tip.


  • sarfaraz
    on April 30, 2013 Reply

    nice info to learn basics in photoshop.

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