The evolution of Photoshop CC has brought created brand new workflows, mostly with the ever growing support for Smart Objects within the adjustment layers and filters. One area that has been improved is for those people that like to work in mulitple colour modes.
As you are probably aware Photoshop has multiple colour modes, CMYK, Lab and RGB to name a few. There are benefits to working within a specific colour space as opposed to another. However, the worflow was to convert the document to the required mode, then convert it back and loosing any edits. This post is to show how to work in multiple colour modes at anyone time without loosing the edits.
i.e. A typical workflow for somone that wanted to work in Lab from an RGB document was to convert from the documents originating source (in this caes RGB), then convert to Lab (using Image / Mode / Lab). Once the adjustments have been made, the document would be then most likely be turned back to the original mode (RGB in this case), or the intended output mode (i.e. CMYK or RGB for example).
i.e. RGB -> LaB -> RGB.
This was fine, but when converting back the adjustments made in Lab would committed to and not re-editable.
Using Smart Objects with this workflow can be beneficial and improve the workflow by enabling in intermediate mode edits to be kept for re-adjustment later.
Once the artwork has been loaded into Photoshop CC, the colour mode is highlighted on the document (marked in red), in this case it’s RGB. The layer is also a Smart Object (which links back to the original RAW file, where any adjustments made from Lightroom or from Camera RAW are kept).
To Convert between different modes is easy, just select the new mode and Photoshop CC will convert to the new mode for you. However, tools will behave differently in different modes. i.e. Curves in RGB has a channel entry for the overall channel, Red, Green and Blue. Where as, Lab, has Luminance, a and b (Once the conversion happens all of the tools will change)
A better and non-destructive way of working is to Create a Smart Object from the Smart Object, once the file is opened.
This process will embed the original file into a Smart Obejct, allowing Photoshop to store the final image in RGB mode (the new Smart Object, the original file’s Smart Object can then be converted to be Lab).
Once the Conversion to a Smart object operation has completed, the layer will need to be double clicked to open the embedded layer (there will be two canvases open inside Photoshop). To convert the embded file to operate in a different mode, choose Image / Mode, then choose the desired Mode. When the Smart Object layer is converted to a different colour mode, Photoshop will ask if the layer should be rasterised, I would choose the ‘Don’t Rasterize’ option and work around the issues (Becasue Lab is a large colour mode, there my be some colours that the final RGB profile may not be able to deal with). Not rasterizing the layer will keep any RAW adjustments that came from either Camera Raw or from Lightroom.
Again, Smart Objects now is able to solve the problem of working within different colour modes in Photoshop CC.