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Running Photoshop Levels, Curves and other Adjustments as a Smart Filter

Photoshop Levels as Smart ObjectFor as long as I can remember the advise advice  to all Photoshop users is ‘Never use the Levels and Curves from the menu, always use an Adjustment Layer.’ This is good advise, working non destructively is the best plan, but with the update to Photoshop CC 2015 things have changed.

Photoshop Smart Objects

Smart objects have been around for a little while now and with each update they get a little more powerful. With the update to CC 2015 more filters are able to run as Smart Filters. This includes the Levels and Curves adjustments.

To convert a layer to a Smart Object, right click on the layer and choose Convert to Smart Object;


or go to the Filter menu and choose Convert For Smart Filters;


You’ll know if the layer is a Smart Object as it will have a little icon on its Layer Panel thumbnail;


Add a Smart Filter

Scanning through the Filter menu you may notice there’s a lot more available, for Levels and Curves however head over to the Image > Adjustments menu;


Look at all those available to us now! All of those adjustments can be run as a Smart Filter!


Extra Control

Once you have a Smart Filter you can always go back and change it by double clicking on the name in the Layers Panel;


By clicking on the slider icon to the right of the filter name you can change the Blending Options too;



About Eric Renno (435 Articles)
Eric’s background in video editing with Adobe Premier led to his interest, and then obsession, with Photoshop. Starting TipSquirrel.com as a hobby he is proud to have gathered together and be a part of The Photoshop Nuts. Known as only “TipSquirrel” for two years, Eric ‘went public’ when he was a finalist in The Next Adobe Photoshop Evangelist competition. He’s also been a finalist in Deke’s Techniques Photoshop Challenge. While still taking on some freelance work, Eric has recently become a Lecturer at Peterborough’s Media and Journalism Centre where he enjoys sharing his knowledge as well as learning new skills. This realisation that he loves to teach has made Eric look at altering his career path.

4 Comments on Running Photoshop Levels, Curves and other Adjustments as a Smart Filter

  1. Advice! Not “advise”!
    Copy edit, copy edit… .

  2. Jon Pyle // 20/07/2015 at 12:26 pm //

    Hi Eric,

    That’s an interesting new option for sure, but is there really any advantage to applying these adjustments as Smart Filters? As I see it, the big drawback is that you can still only have one layer mask per Smart Object to affect all the Smart Filters, whereas using Adjustment Layers you can apply a separate mask to every adjustment where you need one. Maybe Adobe will fix this in a later release?

  3. Thats absolutely correct. Where it will help is for global adjustments, but also in the stacking order of the Smart Filters. The order has an effect on how they react, as an adjustment layer it would always be applied after all the Smart Filters.

  4. I tip my hat to you, and shall change it forthwith

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