Nested Smart Objects Tutorial

I don’t usually do wee-hours-of-Sunday-morning posts. But I happened upon a pingback message in my inbox. And besides, I was supposed to review some contracts tonight. (Ug, contracts.) So I felt compelled to blow off my real work and do this instead.

An article that I wrote for Layers magazine got picked up as part of a big Smashing Magazine compilation of “50 Excellent Digital Photography Photoshop Tutorials.” (Mine is the very last one. Many of the others are very good, so check it out.) It’s all old news. Both the compilation and the article appeared in 2008. But I hadn’t seen either before so I thought, what the hey, I’d pass ‘em along.

The topic of the article (entitled “Nesting Smart Objects for Multimask Effects in Photoshop”) is every bit as relevant now as it was last year. It explains how to take an image that requires some advanced applications of sharpening and smoothing, and achieve both using a combination of nested smart objects, which in turn permit you to apply independently masked smart filters.

Along the way I take this uninspiring bison photo (that I shot, mind you):

And turn it into the elegantly finessed one below. (Damn, you one fine, sesame-sprinkled bison, Bison.)

The one thing missing is the full-res sample file. The Layers post includes a downloadable “before” file, but it’s been downsampled so you’ll get different results. Which is why I’m including the full-res file here.

The article is available for free in the ether, so I figured I’d make this file available for download to members and nonmembers alike. Just right-click here to download the original bison image and choose Save or Download or a similar option.

Or click on the Attachment link at the end of the article. If it appears. (We have such problems with these things.)

For a detailed video explanation of this technique, see my series Photoshop CS3 Sharpening Images at You’re interested in Chapter 4, “The Sharpening Support Staff,” which is located about midway down the page. (If you own Photoshop CS4, don’t worry. It works identically for you, too.)

Oh, man, I just came out with a new series, Illustrator CS4 One-on-One: Advanced! That’s what I should have blogged about. Gosh I suck. Enjoy!

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  • Illustrator CS4 One-on-One: Advanced

    Hey, some of us actually read our email and have started the new series. My daughter is 12 so I got the Lady GaGa reference. (But I’m raising her right. She knows her Beatles too.) Perfect timing on the series as I’m writing curriculum for the 250 kids I’ll adopt for an hour a day in the fall and we start with Illustrator. Thanks for being one of a kind!


  • Talking of…

    Illustrator CS4 One-on-One and 12 year old daughters, I think some unedited stuff slipped in, including minor use of the F-word :P. Check Ch.14 - “Snapping to anchor points” 05:43 - 06:19. Having said that, I love the series.

  • Okay, Editor?

    You mean Deke’s not actually a god? The Emperor’s naked? He makes mistakes when recording?! Thanks, fabulacious. That’s priceless! (And to think I only stopped by to mention an email for something called “Radio Gaga.” I think I’ll skip that app and limit my illegal activity to recording the last 40 seconds of a certain video. Thanks, Snapz Pro.) Lovin’ the tuts more than ever, Deke! :D

    An edit to assure you that I’ll never publish that. It’ll be something to raise my spirits when recording tut X for the umpteenth time. (I don’t have an editor to fix the effin’ flubs.)

  • Hurray for the F-Word

    Muaha! I just watched “said” chapter and ... Hurray for the F-Word ^^

    It makes you that much more fun to watch. (Yeah yeah alright AND informative and teaching and all ... but honestly most people watch your tutorials to have a good time with you being funny. The learning comes by itself if you’re not bored to death by your teacher. I like it when professionals prove to be “not lame” at the same time ;) )

    Deke’s the man!

    Oh wait ... if you’re “The Man” ... I sense a conspiracy apporaching. ^^


    “Isn’t it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too?”

    - Douglas Adams

  • Oh, yuck

    I left a message with my producer. The lad has pluck, won’t pass the buck. So with any luck, he’ll give it a nip and a tuck and all that muck will be struck sometime Muckduck. I mean, Monday.

    But truly, I never say that filthy, dirty word. Someone must have edited it in.


  • I know this isn’t a Support forum….but….pretty please?

    I think I found a bug in Illustrator CS4 - let me explain…

    I have a group. I have another group also. The first group has an image in a clipping mask. When I try to align TOP the two groups…they align to the top of the clipped image and NOT to the top of the shape the image is clipped with…am I making sense? I just thought the Lord our god Deke the magnificent would know…he’s able to leap buildings in a single bound and sing songs with acoustic guitar (although I think the guitar playing was mimed somewhat :O)

    Love the site - I try to pop in from time to time when I’m not designing awful graphics for airplane toilets :o)

    Many thanks


  • I think the original photo

    I think the original photo looked better hehe. Its the technique that counts.

  • almost the same with

    almost the same with original picture…:p

  • wow

    This is fascinating!

  • Nested

    Wow truly a well applauded tutorial here…thanks.

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