Photoshop Q&A

by | 3 years ago

Q: Is it possible to have several adjustment layers share one layer mask?

A: Although it’s not possible for multiple adjustment layers to use the same layer mask, there are a couple of ways to achieve the same end result. The first option is to paint on the mask on one adjustment layer and then, holding down Option (PC: Alt), drag this mask onto the mask on another adjustment layer. You can repeat this operation on multiple adjustment layers; however, if you need to make any changes to the layer mask, you’ll have to edit one and then repeat the operation of copying the mask to the other adjustment layers.

The other option is to use smart filters instead: convert your layer into a smart object (Layer>Smart Objects>Convert to Smart Object) and then use controls under the Image>Adjustments menu (rather than using adjustment layers). The adjustment is applied as a smart filter, and a smart filter has a mask on which you can paint. Then as you apply more adjustments from the same menu, they’ll be added to the “list” of smart filters in the Layers panel, and they share the same layer mask. This way, you can edit one layer mask and all the adjustment smart filters will be affected.

Q: I know you can align layers to each other, but how can I align a type layer to a box on a layer (rather than the entire layer that the box is on)?

A: When layers are selected by clicking on them in the Layers panel, the Alignment commands are based on the entire layer. If there’s an active selection before you use the Alignment commands, then the alignment will be based on that selection. So, in this example, you would Command-click (PC: Ctrl-click) on the box on the layer to load a selection. Then in the Layers panel, select the type layer, make sure the Move tool (V) is active, and in the Options Bar, click on the appropriate Alignment commands.

Q: I’ve converted a layer to a smart object, but now I can’t use the Spot Healing Brush tool. What do I do?

A: Once a layer has been converted to a smart object, it can be helpful to think of the smart object as a container that contains—and “protects”—the layer(s) inside. Among other things, that means that the original pixels can’t be directly edited, which is why the Spot Healing Brush (J) doesn’t work on the smart object. You have a couple of options to retouch a smart object:

  1. Double-click on the smart object thumbnail to view the contents (the original layer) in a separate window. Then use the Spot Healing Brush on the contents document. Once you’re finished, save the document and the smart object will update.
  2. Add a blank layer above the smart object, and in the settings in the Options Bar for the Spot Healing Brush, make sure Sample All Layers is checked. Then use the Spot Healing Brush, and its results will appear on the blank layer. Note that if you make any adjustments to the smart object layer, the Spot Healing layer will not update.

Note: If the smart object originated from Lightroom or Camera Raw, then the first option will work a little differently. When you double-click on the smart object thumbnail, it will open Camera Raw. Then you could use the Spot Removal tool (B) in Camera Raw to do your retouching. When you’re finished, click OK and it’ll return to Photoshop with the retouching applied. This method has the advantage of the retouching being “live”: If you make any adjustments to exposure etc., the retouching will update.

Q: I want to edit the shapes of letters, but when I rasterize the type and use Free Transform, the quality is poor. Is there any way to change the shape of text without losing quality?

A: There are a couple of options that allow you to reshape individual letters while preserving quality. One option is to convert the type layer to a shape. Before using this option, you may want to duplicate the type layer (Command-J ), just in case you want to start over with the original type. Then go to the Type menu and choose Convert to Shape, and use the Direct Selection tool (nested under the Path Selection tool in the Toolbar) to edit the anchor points and paths. Since the shape is vector, it won’t lose any quality.

The other option is to convert the type layer to a smart object and then use Edit>Puppet Warp. Then you can add pins to the individual letters and alter their shapes. With this method, you can more dramatically alter the shape of the letters, although if you push and pull too far, the original letters can become so distorted that they could be difficult to recognize.

Q: I heard someone refer to making two views of the same document while retouching. How do I do that?

A: It takes a couple of steps, but here’s how: go to Window>Arrange>New Window for . Then return to Window>Arrange and choose one of the tiling options. Typically what people do at this point is zoom in on one window to do the retouching, while keeping the other window zoomed out. This can help avoid working on details that are so small that you won’t really see them in the final image at its final size. Work on the zoomed-in window, but constantly refer to the zoomed-out image to see the retouching in context.