PSadv – 05

Smart Objects are extremely practical and once you get the hang of them I promise you will love to use them. In this class we will combine them with in depth info about how we can use existing shadows and light on uni-colored objects. This will not only enable us to recolor ANYTHING. It also gives us ample opportunity to add images, patterns, logos, you name it to existing photos or 3D renderings.

Home Assignment

Work along the videos and upload your version of bottles, t-shirt, book, cosmetics and the car to padlet.

Smart Objects

In this Section we’ll look at Smart Objects. They are very useful in any situation, where you want to either replace any part of a content later on and want to keep all modifications/effects/transformations that you already applied, or if you want to use multiple instances of one content that you want to only modify once and be able to update.

Here are a few videos of Smart Objects in action. They have no explaining audio so you can quickly scroll through the video and see what’s the process. These are only for your inspiration on what Smart Objects are useful for. You don’t need to recreate them 🙂 You can find the PSD files in the base Class-Files folder.

Also it’s a really good exercise to just try and figure out what’s happening. Write down your questions and ask them in class. I’m happy to explain any details.

Light and Shadow

Here are examples of this technique applied:

Know How


Noise can be used as a deliberate effect if you either want to recreate a papery texture or a photographic effect. Also noise helps to cover up bad details, image problems when upscaling and even with steps in gradients. In these cases its more like replacing one image problem with another one that is more pleasing to the human eye. You don’t need to add noise to an image, but you can if you want and know how to.

There are a lot of ways to add noise. One of my favourite is to add noise to a layer on top of everything and then blend it with Linear Light, Overlay or Soft Light.

The advantage is that you can still work on everything underneath → the noise layer is completely non-destructive.

The end effect looks something like this.

How to create it:

Start with an empty layer on top and fill it with neutral grey (RGB 128 128 128). A quick way to do this is to press Shift + ⌫ which opens the Fill Dialouge where you’ll choose 50% Gray.

Also make sure to have Mode: Normal and Opacity 100%.

You’ve now got a grey layer, yay! Put it into Blend Mode “Linear Light”. It will become invisible, because, remember, neutral gray has no effect in the Blend Modes that do both lightening and darkning.

No we’ll apply some noise to this layer. The nicest noise you’ll get by applying Filter → Blur Gallery → Field Blur. This is a bit of a workaround as we don’t really care about the blur but we’ll only use the Noise settings.

Make sure a little bit of blur is applied. How much does not matter, we are blurring a uniformly grey layer anyway.

Now you can adjust the noise sliders on the bottom right until you’re sattisfied with the amount of noise. Zoom in to 100% but also have a look at the whole image while you set these. Once you’re finished hit OK.

You can now fine tune by taking you Noise layers Fill value down a bit to make your noise less strong

Blend Modes

We all have surely used them already but do we really know what exactly they are doing? Knowing your Blend Modes will let you work more freely and it will be less Photoshop telling you what looks good but more the other way round.

Blendmodes change the colours of underlying layers according to the lightness and colour values of the layer the blend mode is applied to.

The most important ones are these three groups:

Darken, Multiply, Color Burn, Linear Burn and Darker Color

A layer with one of these blend modes only affects the underlying ones in a darkening way according to the darkness of the layer itself. 

  • White has no effect 
  • Black has maximum effect

Use these Modes for:

  • Shadows
  • Light images with dark elements
  • Textures that are based on white

Lighten, Screen, Color Dodge, Linear Dodge, Lighter Color

A layer with one one these blend modes only affects the underlying ones in a lightening way according to the lightness of the layer itself. 

  • Black has no effect 
  • White has maximum effect

Use these Modes for:

  • Lights
  • Dark images with light elements
  • Textures that are based on black

Darken, Multiply, Color Burn, Linear Burn and Darker Color

A layer with one one these blend modes affect the underlying ones in both a darkening and a lightening way according to the darkness or lightness of the layer itself. Thus creating more contrast.

  • Black darkens
  • White lightens
  • Neutral Gray (128) has no effect

Use these Modes for:

  • Lightening and Darkening with one layer
    (f.e. sketch lines in Duck painting)
  • Small detailed Textures after Effect High Pass was applied
    (sand, fabric, paper,..)
  • Custom noise layers
  • Every time you want to save the original tones and values and still want to apply some texture/noise/…

High Pass explained:


With Displacements you can create everything from just a slight grainy offset to crazy glitch effects.

Displacement works on the basis of greyscale information in one image (Displacement Map) to stretch and move pixels in another. Where your Displacement Map image is dark, pixels in your working image will be moved one way; where your Displacement Map image is bright, pixels in your working image will be moved the other way.

Use this for:

  • roughening up smooth edges
  • glitchy effects
  • semi fake mapping images onto uneven surfaces
    (cloth, bags, tshirts, paper)
  • wavy effects
  • experimenting with your own painted images as Displacement Map