#CreativeFriday – Using Adobe Stock and Smart Objects

Sometimes when working on composites, either for creative ideas during the creative process or for including in the final version, getting the right image can be challenging and also time consuming. Adobe Stock could be the answer, and I wanted to show how to use Adobe stock when inside Photoshop CC, or the other Desktop apps to save you lots of time and open up more creative ideas.

Access to Adobe Stock is available within the Libraries panel of the Desktop applications; however, i’ve just used Photoshop CC as an example here. Just to be clear, Adobe Stock is an additional subscription, which allows you to use watermarked assets for free or to buy the same high-resolution imagery, vectors and illustrations (watermarked images can be used ‘FPO’ Free for Placement Only). This can be beneficial, as it might help you visualise an idea for a shoot or composite.

Adobe Stock has been embedded into the applications within the Libraries panel, and it’s content can be searched using the Search box (marked in red). The search results are shown in purple within the same panel. Stock items have metadata associated with them, which is used for the search, this data also comes across once the image is downloaded (into a designated library), therefore the search can be used not only against the  Stock library, but also for the assets that have been downloaded (either licensed or watermarked) within the library or across any instance (Library and Stock).

Hovering over an image from the Stock search, will show the download watermarked image (marked in yellow), or license/buy option (the basket item (covered later within this blog)). Assets are downloaded into the library that has been selected (red), new libraries can be created on the fly (possibly due to a project or other focused content), and be shared/collaborated on with other Creative Cloud users. Clicking the icon within the yellow marked area, will download the low resolution version of the asset into the selected Library.

Once the asset has been downloaded, it will be available within your environment under the selected library, as well as within the other desktop apps, and available too any one else sharing/collaborating on the library with you. Once the assets have been downloaded into the library, they can be dragged into the canvas and added to the composite. Notice that when the content is brought into the layer panel, it’s set up as a Smart Object, which means you will be working with a copy, not the original, therefore if anyone else if using the content, then they will get a clean watermarked image. As an aside, the original image can be modified, by right clicking on it and choosing ‘edit’.

Screen Shot 2015-12-18 at 05.51.52 copyOnce the asset has been loaded into the layer as a Smart object, this means that non-destructive adjustments can be applied without altering the original image and can be modified at any point into the future. Notice that in the example below, the Image Adjustments (as opposed to Layer Adjustments) have been used. Within Photoshop CC, these adjustments are now available for use on Smart Objects, and will be applied as non-destructive edits. Once the adjustment has been applied, you will see the adjustment below the layer to which it was applied (marked in yellow).

Screen Shot 2015-12-18 at 05.51.52 copy 4To finish this composite off, I’ll add a Santa hat. Searching Adobe Stock once more, I can easily find some ‘Christmas Decorations’ and add what I feel is needed to finish this image.

Screen Shot 2015-12-18 at 06.54.14Then using masks and selections, the new addition can be cut out and placed into the original comp. The selection can be quickly converted into a mask, by clicking the create mask icon marked in red.

Screen Shot 2015-12-18 at 06.56.32 copy

Once a mask has been created (marked in green), it can be refined using the Mask edge (marked in yellow). Once the edge has been refined (in this case, just the hat and white edges), the Mask can then be updated (marked in red).

N.B. Only the hat has been refined using this method because there is some good contrast to pull all of the fur out from the background. The bracket holding the hat as limited contrast so a refined mask edge won’t work very well. To cut this element out, the mask can be edited using a standard black and white brush directly on the mask.

Screen Shot 2015-12-18 at 06.59.09 copyPressing Shift +Alt +click on the mask with show the mask overlaying on the image, this can make it easier to mask in/out these areas.

Screen Shot 2015-12-18 at 07.03.24 copyOnce finished, the object fits in quite nicely.

Screen Shot 2015-12-18 at 07.08.30Of course, adjustments can be made to this layer, so that it fits in with the background size and colours.

Screen Shot 2015-12-18 at 07.13.02Once the composite has been completed, it can either be created in the real world, or the Stock images can be purchased from your Stock plan.

To buy/license the images, it’s as simple as heading over to the Library panel, and then right clicking on the image and choose buy.

Screen Shot 2015-12-18 at 08.06.45 copyBecause the images can be purchased inline of the composite and it’s adjustments, adding the high-resolution image does not need to be downloaded, re-imported or have the adjustments re-applied manually. This unique approach to using watermarked images, and buying from within the application can save vast amounts of time. Of course you are also able to contribute to Adobe Stock and get rewarded for your efforts.

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