Every so often, I come across a tip that is so awesome that I can’t wait to share it with you. I recently discovered one of these tips and today is the day you’ll learn about it. That is, of course, if you aren’t already aware of its existence.
In previous posts, I wrote about how you can use Adobe Camera Raw as a filter while working in Photoshop. This is a huge feature that can truly come in handy on so many levels. If you’re interested in reading my earlier posts, please click through below.
In today’s post, I’m going to let you in on a little secret. While you can easily convert a layer to a Smart Object and then use the Camera Raw Filter feature in Photoshop to edit that entire layer in Camera Raw and, in return, create a Smart Filter, you’re not limited to that set of circumstances. What you may not already know is that while editing the whole Smart Object layer is the most common, you’re also able to edit just part of the layer with the Camera Raw Filter. That’s right; you can make a selection in a layer with any of the selection tools inside of Photoshop and use the Camera Raw Filter to edit just the contents inside of that selection. What’s outside of the selection won’t be altered in any way.
So, if you’ve gotten used to jumping back and forth between Photoshop and Camera Raw, you’ll be pleased to know that you can add an entirely new dimension to your workflow. You can now limit what you edit in Camera Raw, which makes life a lot easier.
For this post, I’ll be using a photo of a bubble. This is the best photo I could locate that would offer a clear visual into what I’m trying to accomplish.
Converting to a Smart Object & Making a Selection
The photo is already opened up in Photoshop. I’ll go ahead and right-click on the layer and choose Convert to Smart Object from the menu that appears. Doing this will protect the layer and will offer non-destructive attributes to any changes I make.
Once that’s done, I’ll go ahead and pull some guides down from the rulers along the edges of the workspace. Since I’m working with a perfect circle that I’d like to select, I’ll place a guide along the top edge and the left side edge of the bubble.
Next, I’ll use the Elliptical Marquee Tool to create my selection.
I’ll click on the top left corner of the guides (where they intersect), hold down the Shift key on my keyboard to lock in the circle shape and then I’ll drag down and across until the entire bubble is enclosed in the selection. After that, I’ll let go and the selection will be complete. Also, just to let you know, when dealing with perfectly symmetrical shapes such as circles and squares, the expanding and contracting features can help a lot. Please read my previous post for more information on that.
Anyway, here’s my result. The elliptical selection in all its glory.
Using the Camera Raw Filter to Edit the Selected Area
Okay, now here’s the cool part. Under normal circumstances, after moving this layer into Camera Raw, the entire image would be affected by any edits I make in that application (plugin, to be more precise). Since I made a selection though, only the area inside of that selection will be affected. Let’s take a look.
I’ll head up to the Filter > Camera Raw Filter and click.
Once I do this, the Camera Raw plugin will open up, which is basically Camera Raw itself. Inside of Camera Raw, just for this example, I’ll adjust the Contrast, Clarity, Dehaze and Noise Reduction. I’d like to make the bubble stand out more while being a bit more smooth looking. When I’m finished making those changes, I’ll click the OK button in Camera Raw and I’ll return to my workspace in Photoshop. Let’s check out the bubble now.
That looks much more clear. And just as a reminder, I could have made just about any edit I wanted to inside of Camera Raw.
Now let’s take a look at the Layers panel in Photoshop to see what we’re dealing with.
I can see a Smart Filter layer, which was expected. Inside of that layer, I see a mask, which is a surprise. By making a selection in Photoshop before I jumped over to Camera Raw, I was essentially creating a masked area to edit. Working together, Camera Raw and Photoshop created that mask, which is completely editable at any time. If I made a mistake with my initial selection, I could adjust it after the fact by painting parts of the image either black or white (to either conceal or reveal). And that’s that. A new way to edit selected areas in Adobe Camera Raw via Photoshop. That’s totally cool.
I hope I clearly explained how to edit selections by using the Camera Raw Filter inside of Photoshop. If you have any questions or concerns regarding this post, please leave them in the comment section below. Thanks for reading!