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This chapter is from the book

Working with the Smart Filter mask

When you apply a filter to a Smart Object, a filter mask appears on the layer automatically. If you create a selection before applying the first filter to a Smart Object, the selection will appear as the white area in the mask. A filter mask can also be edited using the same methods as for a layer mask. For an illustration of how this works, see the next two pages.

To edit a filter mask

  1. Click the filter mask thumbnail.
  2. Do either of the following:

    Click the Brush tool,brush.jpg then apply strokes with black to hide the filter effect, or with white to reveal areas you’ve hidden. For a partial mask, use black and lower the tool opacity (AE, next page).

    To hide the filter effect gradually from one side of the image to the other, click the Gradient tool,gradient-tool.jpg then drag across the image (AC, page 348).

  • To display the filter mask by itself in the document, Alt-click/Option-click the mask; repeat to redisplay the full Smart Object.
  • To soften the transition between black and white areas in a filter mask, click the filter mask thumbnail, then on the Properties panel,properties-panel.jpg adjust the Feather value. To control the overall opacity of the mask, use the Density slider.

If for some reason a filter mask was deleted and you want to restore it, do as follows.

To create a filter mask

  1. Optional: Create a selection.
  2. Right-click the Smart Filters listing on the Layers panel and choose Add Filter Mask.

To deactivate a filter mask temporarily

Shift-click the mask thumbnail (a red X appears over the thumbnail). Repeat to reactivate the mask.

To delete a filter mask

  • Do either of the following:
  • Drag the filter mask thumbnail to the Delete Layer button delete-layer.jpg on the Layers panel.
  • Click the filter mask thumbnail, then on the Properties panel, click the Delete Mask button.delete-layer.jpg

Working with Smart Filters: An Example


A This is the original image.


B We duplicated the Background, converted the copy to a Smart Object, pressed D to reset the default Foreground and Background colors, then applied Filter Gallery > Sketch > Charcoal (values at left).


C We reduced the Opacity of the Smart Object to 62%.


D We clicked the filter mask, then with the Brush tool at 50% Opacity and black as the Foreground color, applied strokes to partially restore the tiger’s face to its virgin state.


E This is the Layers panel for the image shown at left.


A Next, to wipe the filter mask clean so we could try a different approach, we clicked the mask thumbnail, pressed Ctrl-A/Cmd-A to select the whole mask, pressed Backspace/Delete, then pressed Ctrl-D/Cmd-D to deselect.


B With the Gradient tool (100% Opacity, “Black, White” preset, radial type), we dragged from the center of the image outward. The filter effect is at full strength where the mask is white, and it fades to nil where the mask is black.


C The gradient in the filter mask is diminishing the impact of the filter in the center of the image—the tiger’s face—right where we want the focal point to be.

Filters and an Adjustment Layer


A We duplicated the Background in this image, then converted the duplicate layer to a Smart Object.

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