Sep 04, 2015

How to Use a Smart Object to Create an Ad in Photoshop

Today’s episode is full of tips and tricks as we show you how to use a smart object to create an ad in Photoshop!  We’ll be taking an image, making it into a smart object and then placing it over an iPad.  This technique would work great for anyone who wants to create a mockup and see what it’d look like in real space.


We start off by gathering our source materials.  We move our images over into the same document.  While examining our images we find out how much work we’ll actually have to do.  We know we want our image to fit into the iPad screen seamlessly.  That means we need to match the angle, blur, and characteristics that already exist with the iPad screen.  There is a bit of glare and fingerprints we’d like to include.


Smart Objects can be really powerful when used correctly.  In order to turn your image into a smart object, simply right click and go to “Convert to Smart Object.”  The great thing about Smart Objects is that you can transform the image all you want and it won’t effect the original image.  This method comes in handy because now we can transform our image to fit into our iPad screen perfectly.  After stretching and rotating our image, it’s time to do some final adjustments.


Now it’s time for us to create a blur.  Because we have already created a Smart Object, our blur is a Smart Filter.  This is amazing because we can change the blur after the fact.  So you can go into the image anytime and edit your Smart Filter.


To finish everything off, we add fingerprints by selecting a Color Range.  We sample the color in the fingerprinted areas, we throw a layer mask on top, then we paint on top of our image so the fingerprints show up.  We lower our Opacity and viola!  To finish up, we add some text alongside our image and we are good to go!


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  • user image

    Aaron, I enjoyed this episode, I don’t think you’ve done one that I haven’t to be honest. I have a question though, is there any reason why we don’t use smart objects as default if they’re so good?

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    Skip Michael

    As always I learn something each time I watch one of your tutorials. Thank you.

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    Phenomenal tutorial. I’ve used a similar method for videos too. Thank you Aaron. I really enjoyed that review you did at the end there where you go over the key lessons.

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    First of all I thank you guys, you are a great and fun team. I thought about doing more or less the same example and this is what I could come across with. The picture of the moon is totally black (but the moon of course) and the iPad screen was off and both, fingerprints and cover case marks are visible. What do you think?
    Excuse my english but I am spaniard from Barcelona and there’re no “layers or smart object” to sort it out hahahaha. Again, thank you for your valuable tutorials.

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    How cool is this! You are too clever, I could sit and watch you play all day. Thanks for sharing 🙂

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    Heather Sheldrick

    Great tutorial — thanks. I learned a lot.
    I want to superimpose designs on to a blank white mug so that we can show the full range on our website in a consistent format.

    Is there a way to convincingly bend the smart object so it looks realistic, then swap out each different design on the same basic mug?

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    What a great tutorial, loved it, thank you, can see so many things I can do with this knowledge, will watch it again and again. I am a student of digital design and will link to my fellow students who will love it too, ??????????

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    Daniel Gilbreath

    You guys inspire me so much!! I watch all your videos over an over. You guys really do make learning fun!!! Thanks for being awesome Phlearn!!!

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    Thanks!! Great tutorial and I received this on my email and watched it on my Kindle. Learned something new “smart objects”

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    The focus on the one side of the iPad is different than the other. How can you graduate the Guassian blur???

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    Very cool, especially bringing the fingerprints onto the screen, brilliant! I’m loving the Ultimate Guide to Retouching so far, the best Pro Tutorial yet!

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    Allan Kolczynski

    This is the first time I have seen you use “smart objects” in a tutorial. Why haven’t you used “smart objects” more in your past tutorials and don’t “smart objects” increase the size of your file? I guess you have to decide whether the flexibility of a “smart object” is more important then the size of the file. Thanks and have a great day.

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    Dennis Oliver

    Excellent tutorial as usual. Thanks for the top tips on use of smart objects.

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    Thomas Keach

    Another great video from you Aaron. I sure do appreciate all these tutorials you put out, and especially appreciate the fact that they are free!

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    Great tutorial. It’s always a pleasure to take a break and watch your tutorials. You have helped me progress in using Photoshop in my website business. Can’t thank you enough!

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    Susie Anne

    That was my first Photoshop tutorial. You rocked it!! I am a serious Photoshop baby-novice and this gave me some real insight into the use of the tool. I have to learn it and to have someone make it this fun makes a big difference. Loved the blooper reel. Well worth it as now I will be keenly watching to the end to see what happens on each tutorial.

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    I was wondering what the benefit of using a Smart Object was – I’ve never really worked with them, so this is helpful!
    Just a question, wouldn’t you want to put some of the glare from the iPad screen over the picture as well? At the risk of losing the image a bit, it seems like it would add to the ‘natural’ effect.

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    Wow! Really? You are GENIUS! You just make everything seem soooo easy! Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge with us. Absolutely love you/them.
    I purchased your pro tutorial and am super happy learning a lot but, I have a question. Do I absolutely need to use Lightbox too? I currently only have PS C6. What do you reckon? Thanks again, and congratulations on doing an awesome job!

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    Great episode…

    I have been doing this for a while, here one I did for myself. This is one of the first ones I did also.


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    Thanks. It’s help me for use perspective. And I learned about color range option. But I have a question why you change layer mode screen.

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    Eva Briggs

    A quick photo for my podcast’s Facebook page – you can listen anywhere, anytime. Thanks for the tutorial.

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    Sytine Tchang

    Of course, another great tutorial! I cannot wait to give this one a try.

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    Roslyn Wilton-Maidman

    Love, love, love your classes, you make them easy to learn. I’ve used this tutorial in my assessment piece for my Cert 4 in Digital Design course, I have two assessments to do then I’m finished this course, I’m 62 lol last starter, looking for a new career lol.

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    Great episode again, Aaron.
    Though I’m fully convinced of the usefulness of smart objects, I still do have a question on my mind.
    “Where are smart objects stored?” I mean, if I move a .psd file containing smart objects, let’s say on another drive or even on another computer, are the smart objects moved automatically too, or do I have to move a copy of them on my own? In other words, are smart objects part of a .psd file or are they distinct and stored separately?
    Thanks for all I learned from you