Relax. We Code.

PSD to WordPress. WordPress Customization.

Get Started

Create a Camera Phone Mock-Up Using Smart Objects and Smart Filters in Photoshop

Final product image
What You’ll Be Creating

Photoshop Smart Filters are one of the greatest things about Smart Objects. When you apply a filter effect to a Smart Object layer, you automatically create a Smart Filter. You can edit the filter(s) as many times as you like, without damaging the original pixels. 

In this tutorial, you’ll learn how to use two copies of the same Smart Object to create the product mock-up, then apply a filter to de-focus the background. Once everything is set up, you can easily update the image in the Smart Object to change the scene.

1. Prepare the Mock-Up

I’m starting with a layered Photoshop file. You can use your own photos, or find isolated product images on GraphicRiver or PhotoDune.

Photoshop mockup

Step 1

As you can see in the Layers panel, this file is organized into its component parts. You may not need all of these layers, but more layers gives you more flexibility and more control over the final output.

layer panel

Step 2

For our purposes, it’s important to have one layer as the “screen” layer. It should be a transparent layer, containing a filled rectangle the size of the phone’s screen.

transparent screen layer

To create this layer, you can carefully select the screen area using the Rectangular Marquee Tool (M), then fill the selection in a new layer above the Phone layer. To refine the selection, use Transform Selection under the Select menu to get it just right. You can fill the selection with any color, as it won’t be visible in the final mock-up.

2. Prepare the Smart Object

Step 1

Drag a photo into the mockup PSD. It should be a high-resolution image, so it can fill the background without enlarging. Drag the layer to the bottom of the layers stack. Optional: rename this layer “Scene”.

background image

Step 2

Convert the Scene layer to a Smart Object. There are three ways to do this:

  1. Go to the Layer menu to Smart Objects > Convert to Smart Object.
  2. Click the flyout menu on the Layers panel and choose Convert to Smart Object.
  3. Right-click the layer in the Layers panel and choose Convert to Smart Object.
convert to smart object

Step 3

You’ll notice that the layer now has a tiny icon in the lower right of its thumbnail, indicating that this is a Smart Object layer. Make a copy of the Smart Object layer by dragging it to the New Layer icon at the bottom of the Layers panel.

copy smart object
Drag the Smart Object layer to the New icon to make a copy.

Step 4

Drag the copy up above the Screen layer. Use Free Transform (Command-T) to scale the image so that it’s approximately the size of the phone screen. It should overlap slightly.

transform smart object

Step 5

Clip the Scene copy layer to the Screen layer. This will mask off the part of the image that extends beyond the edges of the screen, but it won’t actually crop the image. First, select the “Scene copy” layer, and then click the flyout menu on the Layers panel and choose Create Clipping Mask. You can also use the keyboard shortcut Command-Option-G.

create clipping mask

Alternately, you can hold down the Option (Alt) key and click between the two layers. You’ll see the cursor change to double circles to let you know you’re in the right spot.

clipping mask icon
Hold down the Option/Alt key and click between the layers to create a Clipping Mask. The cursor changes to a double-circle icon.

Once the clipping mask is created, the image should fill the dimensions of the screen. You’ll also see the layer thumbnail has shifted slightly to the right, and has a small downward arrow. This indicates the “Scene copy” Smart Object layer is “clipped” to the layer below.

3. Add and Edit the Smart Filter

Step 1

Select the background “Scene” Smart Object layer. Go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur. Enter a value for the blur Radius to give the background a de-focused look, as in the image below.

blur filter

Step 2

When you apply a filter to a Smart Object layer, a Smart Filter is automatically created below the Smart Object, with a Layer Mask built in.

smart filter layer

Step 3

You can paint on the Smart Filter Mask or otherwise edit it, to obscure parts of the filter effect. In this case, we want to bring the foreground of the scene into a little sharper focus, because it’s closer to the viewer.

Select the Smart Filters mask in the Layers panel. It will have a thin double line around the thumbnail to indicate it’s active. Choose the Gradient Tool (G) and make sure a linear black-to-white gradient is selected in the Control Panel. Drag the Gradient Tool vertically through the image so that the black part of the gradient starts at the bottom of the mask. As with any type of layer mask, remember: “black conceals, white reveals.”

apply gradient to mask
Drag a black-to-white gradient through the Smart Filters mask.

Once the gradient is applied, you will see it in the Smart Filters thumbnail in the Layers panel:

filter mask

You can Option (Alt)-click on the mask’s thumbnail to see the full mask in the PSD. Option-click again to return to the normal view.

layer mask

Step 4

Here is the finished mock-up. You can see that the beach and the water in the foreground (i.e. at the bottom of the image) are more in focus than the bridge and the sky. The black part of the gradient obscures the filter effect, and transitions to the full blur in the top half of the image. You can keep experimenting with the placement of the gradient to get it just right.


Step 5

The great thing about Smart Filters is that they are non-destructive. You can edit them infinitely without causing permanent damage to the pixels in the image. Let’s say you want the Blur effect to be a little stronger. Double-click the effect’s name below the Smart Filters mask in the Layers panel to bring up its settings again. Adjust the radius and click OK.

If you had applied the Blur filter to a regular pixel layer, you wouldn’t be able to go back later and change the settings. This is the advantage of using Smart Objects with Smart Filters.

edit effect
If you double-click the effect in the Layers panel, you can adjust the effect as many times as you want, without any degradation to the image.

Step 6

You can also change the Blending Mode of a Smart Filter, making it even more versatile. There is a small icon to the right of the effect’s name in the Layers panel. It looks like two sliders. Double-click this icon to bring up the Blending Options

blending mode icon

Choose a Mode from the drop-down menu. You can also change the Opacity. Most Blend Modes won’t be practical for a mock-up like this, but it can be fun to experiment.

blending options

4. Edit the Smart Object

Now that the mockup is is all set up with a Smart Object and a Smart Filter, you can change both the phone screen image and the background at the same time, by editing the original Smart Object.

Step 1

Double-click the Smart Object thumbnail to edit. You’ll see the following message. Once you become accustomed to working with Smart Objects, you can choose to turn off this warning dialog.

edit smart object
Double-click the Smart Object thumbnail to edit.

Step 2

The Smart Object opens as a separate, special file. The file extension is .psb.

psb file

Step 3

I’m just going to drag a different landscape photo on top of the existing one. There is no need to flatten the image, as Smart Objects can have multiple layers.

new layer

Step 4

Close and save the .psb file. Now the new landscape will appear on both the phone screen and the background. This effect works because the Smart Object on the phone screen is a copy of the original.


Step 5

Depending on the image you use, you may want to edit the blur effect, or adjust the gradient on the Smart Filters mask.


Smart Filters give you infinite ways to modify the look of your Smart Object layers. The best part is that you can do so without damaging the original pixels of the Smart Object. Experiment to your heart’s content!

Phone Mockup on Placeit

Placeit is a simple and easy to use online mockup generator with over 11,000 Smart Templates to pick from. No Photoshop skills needed because everything you need to do is on the online tool. It doesn’t get any quicker than this. 

Mockup of a Woman Holding a Silver iPhone 8 Plus Against a Concrete Wall
iPhone X Mockup Lying on top of a Book While Near a Coffee Cup and Headphones

Source: PSD TUTS

Designers, don’t be afraid to let robots design

In 1961, Alan Perlis, an early pioneer in computer science, advocated that computer programming should be a requirement of a liberal arts education. He believed students of creative disciplines should learn programming, not so they could become programmers, but so they could learn more about how to construct and analyze processes — whether building an imaginary world for a video game, designing a brand logo, or telling a compelling story. Fast forward to the present, where computation and creativity have become intertwined in the design process and Perlis’ advice becomes not just wise, but prophetic. Computational design — which uses…

This story continues at The Next Web

Every Star Trek: Discovery season two photo so far – CNET

As Star Trek comes to Comic-Con, we finally have our first looks at season two of Discovery.
Source: CNET

Ezra Miller's seen at Comic-Con: Will he shake up the DC, Warner Bros. panel? – CNET

Fantastic Beasts? Flashpoint? We’ll know soon.
Source: CNET

Data breach exposes trade secrets of carmakers GM, Ford, Tesla, Toyota

Security researcher UpGuard Cyber Risk disclosed Friday that sensitive documents from more than 100 manufacturing companies, including GM, Fiat Chrysler, Ford, Tesla, Toyota, ThyssenKrupp, and VW were exposed on a publicly accessible server belonging to Level One Robotics.

The exposure via Level One Robotics, which provides industrial automation services, came through rsync, a common file transfer protocol that’s used to backup large data sets, according to UpGuard Cyber Risk. The data breach was first reported by the New York Times.

According to the security researchers, restrictions weren’t placed on the rsync server. This means that any rsync client that connected to the rsync port had access to download this data. UpGuard Cyber Risk published its account of how it discovered the data breach to show how a company within a supply chain can affect large companies with seemingly tight security protocols.

This means if someone knew where to look they could access trade secrets closely protected by automakers. It’s unclear if any nefarious actors actually got their hands on the data. At least one source at an affected automaker told TechCrunch it doesn’t not appear that sensitive or proprietary data was exposed.

UpGuard’s big takeaway in all of this: rsync instances should be restricted by IP address. The researchers also suggest that user access to rsync be set up so that clients have to authenticate before receiving the dataset. Without these measures, rsync is publicly accessible, the researchers said.

The breach exposed 157 gigabytes of data—a treasure trove of 10 years of assembly line schematics, factory floor plans and layouts, robotic configurations and documentation, ID badge request forms, VPN access request forms. The breach even included sensitive non-disclose agreements, including one from Tesla.

Personal details of some Level One employees, including scans of driver’s licenses and passports, and Level One business data, including invoices, contracts, and bank account details.

The security team discovered the breach July 1. The company successfully reached Level One by July 9 and the exposure was closed by the following day.


Venom, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse web up fans at Comic-Con – CNET

Fans see new raw Venom footage with Tom Hardy. Plus more on Spider-Pig and Nic Cage as Spider-Man Noir.
Source: CNET

Your Body Text is Too Small

Several years ago, there was a big push by designers to increase the font-size of websites and I feel like we’re living in another era of accessibility improvements where a fresh batch of designers are pushing for even larger text sizing today. Take this post by Christian Miller, for example, where he writes:

The majority of websites are still anywhere in the range of 15–18px. We’re starting to see some sites adopt larger body text at around 20px or even greater on smaller desktop displays, but not enough in my opinion.

Christian attributes this to all sorts of different things, but I particularly like this bit:

Unfortunately, it’s a common mistake to purposefully design a website in a way to avoid scrolling. To the detriment of design, body text size is reduced to either reduce scrolling, or condense the layout in order to fit other elements in and around the copy.

Scrolling is a natural, established pattern on the web—people expect to have to scroll. Even when it isn’t possible, people will attempt scrolling to see if a page offers more beyond what’s initially in the viewport. Readability is more important than the amount of scrolling required—good content won’t prevent users from scrolling.

I would only push back a little bit on the advice — that legibility isn’t always tied to the font-size of a block of text. A lot of the time it has to do with contrast instead — whether the typeface is easy to read and whether it is clearly visible against the background. Overall, though, there’s a lot of great advice for designers both new and old in this post.

Direct Link to ArticlePermalink

The post Your Body Text is Too Small appeared first on CSS-Tricks.


By Firing James Gunn During Comic-Con, Marvel's Reckoning Came at the Worst Time Possible

Sacking the ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ helmer was the worst outcome of a lose-lose situation.
Source: WIRED

Comic-Con 2018: 'Glass' Is the Movie M. Night Shyamalan Wanted to Make For Comics Fans

When the filmmaker made ‘Unbreakable’ in 2000, the studio told him to avoid mentioning comics. Those days are done.
Source: WIRED

Meet the kids joining Adam Savage for MythBusters Jr. – CNET

The former MythBusters co-host returns to TV with a new Discovery Channel science-centric competition for young whizzes.
Source: CNET