Do you know how many times I had to change the title for this post because I couldn’t think of just the right words? A bunch. I mean, how do you try to explain that you plan on creating a Smart Object in Adobe Photoshop out of a bunch of graphics and then using those graphics as a label for a jar? Oh yeah, and that you’ll be taking advantage of the Warp feature of the Free Transform Tool in Photoshop to do so. Oh yeah again. And that your explanation needs to be under seventy characters for a blog post title.
Anyway, I guess I just explained what I intend to do for this post. To be more clear, I plan on walking through a small project in this post. I have a photo of a jar sitting on a tray in front of a wood pile. I also have a graphic I made that would be the perfect label for a hypothetical product. I’d like to turn the layers I created for the label into a Smart Object and then combine that Smart Object with the photo of the jar. After that, I’ll use the Free Transform feature of Photoshop to resize the label and then use the Warp feature of that same tool to add some curvature to the top of the label as well as the bottom. Finally, if the label needs any modifications, I’ll edit the Smart Object directly from the file I’m working in. After this post, you should have a good idea how to combine multiple layers as a Smart Object, how to merge that Smart Object with another file that’s open in Photoshop simultaneously, how to transform a Smart Object and how to warp it as well. Also, I’ll go over any touching up that might be necessary to make the label look natural. Hopefully, I can get this post finished without making my head spin too much.
The Working Files
As I mentioned above, I already made the label file. As this project moves on, I’ll show you those layers below. Here is the finished product.
Also, this is the jar I’ll be placing the product label on. Of course, the label will need to look good, so I’ll have to reshape it, which is the purpose of this post.
Of course, this isn’t a real product but it is the real process someone might follow to create a mockup of what a product may look like when finished.
The Label Layers
To create this label, I started off with a photograph of a nature scene. Then, I added a white background that would help out as I faded the photo, an oval to place the product text in, the text itself and a bottom and top bar to give the label some interest. Here are the layers.
After a bit of coloring and alignment, the label was finished.
Creating a Smart Object From Multiple Layers
This process is very simple. To create a Smart Object from many layers, all I need to do is to select all the layers in the Layers panel by clicking on the top layer, holding down the Shift key on my keyboard and then clicking on the bottom layer. This will highlight all of them.
After that, I’ll right-click on any one of the layers and after the menu appears, I’ll click on Convert to Smart Object.
Just for your information, the more layers you want to convert to a Smart Object or the larger the files that are included are, the longer the conversion will take. You need to be patient during the process. Don’t worry, a spinning indicator will be visible during the process.
Once the conversion is finished, only one layer will be available. That’s the Smart Object. If I wanted to, I could double-click on the text in the layer to rename it. That’s what I did.
Merging Files Into One Tab
The next step I need to take is to move the Smart Object label layer over into the tab where the photo of the bottle lives. To do this, I’ll click and drag the Smart Object layer up to the other file tab and wait for that tab’s contents to appear. Once that happens, I’ll drag the layer down into the center of the photograph and let go. This process will give me a Layers panel that has two layers in it.
In case you don’t know, you can always edit the contents of a Smart Object at any time. I won’t be doing that in this post, but if you’d like to know how to go about something like that, please feel free to take a look at this post below.
In this post, just scroll down to the “Edit Smart Object” section. All the information will be laid out there.
Transforming the Smart Object Layer
Okay, now that the photograph and the label are where they’re supposed to be, I can go ahead and resize the label to fit onto the jar. To do this, I’ll select the layer in the Layers panel and use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+T to activate the Free Transform tool. Once the transform bounding box appears over the label layer, I can hold down the Shift key, click on a corner of the label and drag that corner to the center of the label so it shrinks down. I can also click anywhere inside the transform box to reposition the label over the jar. This is the result.
If you look at the jar closely, you may notice that while the two top corners perfectly align with the glass, the two bottom corners need to be slightly dragged inward. I’ll get to that in a bit.
Warping the Label
Now that the label has been reduced in size, I can go ahead and warp (bend) the top and bottom edges of the label so they match the curves of the bottle. So, while the transform bounding box is still active, I can press the Warp button that’s up in the options bar. This will create a grid with handles over the label.
To learn more about how to warp things inside of Photoshop, please take a look at the post I link to below.
As it stands, I only need a very minimal warp upwards for the top edge and one just a tab bit more for the bottom. To accomplish the warp, I’ll click right on top of the top horizontal edge line, at the center, and drag upward. I’ll do the same for the bottom edge, but I’ll drag downward.
I also clicked and dragged the two bottom corners in so they touched the sides of the jar. I think everything is lined up the way it’s supposed to be now.
To confirm and set the changes, I’ll press the Enter key on my keyboard.
At this point, we have a jar that looks good. It has a label on it that looks fairly realistic. Have a look.
Adding an Adjustment Layer For Realism
While the label already looks really good, I’d like to take things one step further and darken up the edges of it. This will give the illusion of the label wrapping around the sides of the jar. To accomplish this illusion, I’m going to add a Curves adjustment layer and darken the label from there.
To add the adjustment layer, I’ll make sure the top “label” layer is selected in the Layers panel. Then, I’ll head up to the Adjustments panel and click the Curves icon.
Once the Properties panel for this adjustment appears, I can simply click directly on the center of the line and pull it down slightly.
Doing this will darken the entire image. Since I don’t want to darken everything and I want to limit any adjustment this layer causes, I’ll click on the Clipping Mask icon.
Don’t know what clipping masks are? Well, today’s your lucky day.
Anyway, once I click that icon, the jar photograph will lighten back up as if there was no change at all.
Painting the Mask
The only thing I now have to take care of is editing the adjustment to the label I just made. If you remember back, a white mask reveals any change that’s made via the adjustment and any black areas on the mask will hide those adjustments. Since I want to only show the darkened areas on the side edges of the label, I’m going to paint a black stripe right down the center of the label. This will hide the darkness from the center and bring that area back to its original state.
You can see the black paint in the adjustment layer mask in the screenshot above. I circled it in red. I also pulled the Curves line down a bit more to darken the edges even more.
Now, let’s take a look at the final image.
Wow, I’d say that looks great.
My intention for this post was to show you how you can put a freshly learned skill into practice. In my last post, I described how to apply a warp to something. In this post, I used the previous lesson to actually warp something for a real-life project. I sincerely hope this helped you.
If you have any questions or concerns regarding this post, please leave them in the comment section below. Thanks for reading!