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Elevating your Photoshop workflow with Luminar Flex

Advance masking is what Photoshop lives for. The program is designed for graphic artists with tools photographers can also use. Luminar, on the other hand, is designed for Photographers to develop and process images with graphics tools such as layers and masking to blend creativity with solid photography. In this tutorial, I’ll show you how to create an editable poster of a football player using Photoshop and Luminar Flex as a Smart Object and Smart Filter. Let’s get started.

Create a blank Photoshop document with the size of the final print

Step 1: Launch Photoshop and create a new document. We are creating a poster so the dimensions are 24×36 inches. Since this is the full size we are printing at, we can get away with 180ppi — PPI stands for pixels per inch  — for standard prints. This helps keep the file size smaller and quicker to process. Yes, 300ppi is the industry standard and should be used on high-end print jobs, but the difference in quality is hardly noticeable.

Click File > New. Set the width to 36 inches, height to 24 and PPI to 180. Click the Create button to create the new Photoshop document.

Create a new New Document

Place and resize images

Step 2: Place the background and football player images in the new document. Click File > Place Embedded. Browse your computer for the images and click the Place button to place the images in the document as a Smart Object. A Smart Object is a container that holds the contents of a layer. You’ll see why this is a great feature in a moment.

Convert to a Smart Object

Step 3: Convert all Layers to a Smart Object. Select all the layers and right click on one of them. Select Convert to Smart Object. This creates a single smart object layer. Double clicking on the Smart Object will open the container showing all the layers. The file extension for a Smart Object is PSB  — Photoshop Big — and is automatically created.

Convert to a smart object

Apply the Luminar Flex plugin as a Smart Filter

Step 4: Apply the Luminar Flex plugin. The Luminar Flex plugin becomes a Smart Filter when added to a Smart Object. This feature allows us to make changes after applying the filter, making it non-destructive. Click Filter > Skylum Software and choose Luminar Flex.

Luminar Flex

From here, you can apply any Looks or Filters to the image. A good starting point is to select a Luminar Look from the Looks Collection. Let’s use the Grunge Look from the Creative collection. You can continue to make changes to the Filter settings or add additional filters to complete the Look. Click the Apply button to return back to Photoshop.

Apply Luminar Flex

Smart Objects and Smart Filters can be edited non-destructively

Step 5: Resize or make changes to Smart Object. Here’s a great example of showing the power of Smart Objects and Smart Filters. The football player appears a little small. Here’s how to resize him without having to start over.

Double click on the Smart Object to open the container. Click on the football player and use keyboard shortcut Ctrl or Cmd T to resize him and position him in place. Press enter to complete the change. Press Ctrl or Cmd S to save the file. Luminar Flex reopens and gives you an option to accept or make additional changes. Click apply. Return to the Poster document and your changes are automatically updated. How cool is that?

Bonus tip

Since Smart Objects and Smart Filters are non-destructive —  meaning they can be changed at any time — it’s best to create a copy of the Smart Object layer and rasterize it to avoid any accidental changes. Use keyboard shortcut Ctrl or Cmd + J to duplicate the Smart Object Layer. Right click on the layer and select Rasterize.

By using Photoshop’s Smart Object we were able to add Luminar Flex as a Smart Filter to create an editable football poster. Think how powerful this is. You could swap out the Football player with a different image and all the changes will automatically be applied to the new image.

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