Smart Filter Masks

"Filter masks" is yet another great feature of smart filter allowing us to hide an effect without masking the layer itself. Actually, once a smart filter is created it already has a "white" layer mask. However, since a filter mask thumbnail doesn't appear in the Layers palette, you can't activate it directly as Photoshop users do (fig. 1).

In PSE you mask smart filters as follows:

  1. Select a "filtered" smart object in the Layers palette.
  2. Reveal Filter actionIn the Effects panel, double-click the "Reveal Filter" thumbnail.

    Reveal Filter actionThere appear white "dashes" around the smart object's thumbnail, meaning that the filter mask is currently active and you can edit it directly. For example, paint on the image with black color to hide filter effect in certain areas. On the screenshot 2, the author masks smart filters on the girl's face and knees. Let's make it clear that if an object has 2 or more smart filters applied to it, the mask hides them all. Masking individual filters is impossible.

  3. Reveal Filter action
  4. To exit the mask editing mode (for example, you may want to adjust the settings of the filter itself), de-activate the filter mask by clicking the smart object's thumbnail in the Layers palette. The white "dashes" disappear.
  5. To continue editing the filter mask, you re-activate it by double-clicking the "Reveal Filter" thumbnail in the Effects palette.

Important! In case your smart object has 2 or 3 smart filters, the mask hides all of them. Masking individual filters is not possible.

Hide Filter actionAlternatively, you may use the "Hide All" approach to filter masking:

  1. The "Hide Filter" effect masks the filter effect completely by filling the mask with black color.
  2. Now paint with white color there, where you wish to reveal the filter effect.
Filter Selected actionSometimes, it is more convenient to create a mask from an active selection.
  1. That is, you make a selection, for example with the Polygonal Lasso tool.
  2. Then use either the "Filter Selected" or the "Unfilter Selected" action (screenshot 3).

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