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Getting Started with Photoshop CS5 : Working with Smart Objects

10/8/2011 9:10:37 AM
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A Smart Object is a container in which you can embed raster (e.g., PSD, JPEG, TIFF) or vector (e.g., AI, PDF, EPS) image data from another Photoshop or Adobe Illustrator file that retains all its original characteristics and remains fully editable. A Smart Object can be scaled, rotated, and warped nondestructively without losing original image data. Smart Objects store source data with the original object, so you can work on a representation of the image without changing the original—resulting in one file embedded within another. For example, when an Illustrator Smart Object is double-clicked in the Layers panel, Photoshop starts Illustrator and opens a working copy of the artwork. When you make changes in Illustrator and then save the file, Photoshop automatically re-rasterizes the file. If you duplicate a Smart Object, Photoshop stores only one copy of the source data while creating a second instance of the composite data, thus saving valuable disk space. When you edit one Smart Object, Photoshop updates all the copies. In addition, you can link Smart Objects to their layer mask so they can be moved together. You can create Smart Objects by converting selected layers, pasting Illustrator data from the clipboard, using the Place command to insert a file, or using the Open As Smart Object command.

Work with Smart Objects

Use one of the following to create a Smart Object:

  • Click the File menu, click Open As Smart Object, select a file, and then click Open.

  • Click the File menu, and then click Place to import into an open Photoshop document.

  • Select a layer, click the Layer menu, point to Smart Objects, and then click Convert To Smart Object.

If you use Place to import a Smart Object, use the bounding box to modify the image to the shape you want.

Press Enter (Win) or Return (Mac) to convert the image to a Smart Object (in the Layers panel).

To make a copy, drag the Smart Object layer to the New Layer button.

Double-click the thumbnail of the original or copy to open the editor for the Smart Object.

Make the desired changes to the image, save, and then close the editor window.

When you’re done working with a Smart Object, use any of the following:

  • Convert to normal layer. Select the layer, click the Layer menu, point to Rasterize, and then click Smart Object.

  • Export contents. Select the layer, click the Layer menu, point to Smart Objects, and then click Export Contents.

    Photoshop saves the contents in its original format, or PSB if it was created from a layer.

  • Replace contents. Select the layer, click the Layer menu, point to Smart Objects, click Replace Contents, select a file, and then click Open.



You can’t alter pixel data. If you want to use painting, dodging, burning, or cloning tools, you need to convert the Smart Object layer to a normal layer.

You can apply a filter to a Smart Object.
When you apply a filter to a Smart Object, the filter becomes a Smart Filter. Smart Filters appear in the Layers panel below the Smart Object layer, where you can show or hide them independently; they are nondestructive. You can apply any filter, except Liquify and Vanishing Point.

You can convert a 3D layer to a Smart Object (Extended).
Select the 3D layer in the Layers panel, click the Options menu, and then click Convert To Smart Object. To re-edit the 3D content, double-click the Smart Object layer.

For Your Information: Understanding Nondestructive Editing

In Photoshop, nondestructive editing allows you to make changes to images while keeping the original image data intact. This flexibility allows you to experiment with different effects without worrying about harming your original image. You can perform nondestructive editing in many different areas of Photoshop. These include: (1) Transforming with Smart Objects, (2) Filtering with Smart Filters, (3) Adjusting variations, shadows, and highlights with Smart Objects, (4) Editing in Camera Raw, (5) Opening Camera Raw files as Smart Objects, (6) Cropping nondestructively, (7) Masking with layers and vectors, (8) Retouching on a separate layer using Clone Stamp, Healing Brush, and Spot Healing Brush tools, and (9) Working with adjustment layers.

 
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