Apply Filter to Editable Shape or Type Layer in Photoshop

Apply filter to editable shape or type layer in Adobe Photoshop

This is one of cool tips you may not use very often but it is really worth to know.  Photoshop allows you to apply any filter to vector based layers and to keep it editable so you can change and modify content non-destructively at any time even after saving and reopening document.

Convert layer to Smart Object
First step is to convert type or shape layer to Smart Object. I already mentioned how Smart Objects works and here is quick reminder: Photoshop will keep original layer data intact and what you see on Smart Object layer is copy (duplicate) of original with modification if you have applied any (like transformation or filter(s) applied). To convert layer(s) to Smart Object select layer(s) then right click (Cmd + click) and choose Convert to Smart Object. You can also use Filter > Convert for Smart Filters or Layer > Smart Objects > Convert to Smart Object commands available from menus.
Convert type layer to Smart Object in Adobe Photoshop

Apply filter
After converting layer to Smart Object you can start playing around with filters. Ensure Smart Object layer is selected in Layers panel then apply filter to it. One of filters you can always use (and I will do in this example) is Wind available from Filter > Stylize > Wind.

Benefit of converting Type and Shape layers to Smart Objects
Benefit of converting type or shape layers to Smart Objects is some cool effects which can be easily achieved using filters and maybe and more important: you can edit content non-destructively at any time. After confirming and saving changes (edits) Photoshop will automatically update Smart Object and reapply exact same filter(s) with exact same settings.

Edit Smart Object
In this example I converted type layer to Smart Object and applied filter. Type layer contains only one word: Fortress, which have sense for citizens of Niš where I currently live but may not be enough descriptive for other viewers so I decide to add some more text. To edit text I will double click on Smart Object thumbnail in Layers panel but you can and do that and from Layer > Smart Objects > Edit Contents or Layers panel menu. Info window will appear after choosing to edit Smart Object and you must click OK to continue.
Edit Smart Object in Adobe Photoshop

Now comes interesting part. It seems that type is rasterized in image area because transparency grid is present but do not worry. Take a look at Layers panel. Type layer is represented with letter T what means you can edit it without any lost of quality. The only thing that can confuse you is grid behind type but everything else is the same: to select type just double click type thumbnail or select Type tool and select text as usually.
To modify shapes use Direct Selection Tool. You are not limited to Direct Selection Tool when working with shapes by the way, you can also ad, subtract, intersect another shape(s) with existing and do everything else you are doing with shapes.
Type layer edited as Smart Object

If you plan to enlarge shape or to add more type then I can recommend you to enlarge canvas before editing from Image > Canvas Size (Alt/Opt + Ctrl/Cmd + C is keyboard shortcut) but you do not have to. It is just more convenient in some situations.

When you finish editing use Image > Reveal All when some parts are not visible or Image > Trim if you have transparent areas around type or shape in case canvas size is enlarged more of what is needed.
Reveall All command in Adobe Photoshop

Last step in this process is to click close (x in top right corner of tab or window) and to confirm changes on Yes button.
After changing type layer converted to Smart Object

After confirming changes you will return to document window and filter(s) will be reapplied automatically but you can ad and other or change existing at any time.

Here is comparison without and before/after editing Type layer converted to Smart Object with Wind filter applied:
Comparison before/after editing type layer converted to Smart Object

Conclusion
Smart Object are one of most powerful features in Photoshop and I am using them all the time. This is only one example how to use Smart Objects for flexibility and non-destructive editing. Never miss to use this powerful feature whenever you need it.

Reference:
Photoshop / Nondestructive editing
Photoshop / Create Smart Objects
Photoshop / Edit Smart Objects

Product used in this tutorial: Adobe Photoshop CS6

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