Photoshop Smarter: Smart Objects

Photoshop CS2 has a new feature called Smart Objects. Smart Objects allow you to alter, transform, and warp your photo, without ruining the original information.
Here, let me explain:

Let’s say you transform your object by scaling it down. Then press Enter to set the transformation, in case you haven’t.


Then you want to re-scale it to the original size. You end up with a blurry, pixelated object, like this:


Now, let’s convert our layer into a Smart Object [Layer > Smart Objects > Group Into New Smart Object] or use the Layers palette menu.

Now we scale our object down. Press Enter to set the transformation.


Then, we re-scale the object back to the original size.


And no blurry, pixelated image. This is called non-destructive editing… and Photoshop isn’t the first to use it, some people may remember a program called Live Picture.

Anyway, let’s look at what else we can do with Smart Objects.

Let’s duplicate our Smart Object layer with [Ctrl + J], then scale the new layer down.

Double-click on the Layer thumbnail in the Layers palette. You should get a dialog like this:


Click OK, and you’ll get your object in it’s own window.


Now you can alter your object in the new window. We’ll start by adding a Hue/Saturation Adjustment layer and changing the color.


Whoah… exciting, huh? Well, hit [Ctrl + S] to save, then click back on your original image.

Holy crap. As soon as you clicked, the images changed.


Now, let’s duplicate [Ctrl + J] another layer, and transform it.


Select the Group Into New Smart Object again [Layer > Smart Objects > Group Into New Smart Object]. Then duplicate and transform again. You should now have a total of 4 objects.


Double-click on the Layer thumbnail again, and alter your object.


[Ctrl + S] to save your object, then click back on your original document.


You now end up with two different pairs of objects. Pretty cool, huh? I can see this being a very powerful tool for anybody who does large image compositions.

Comments Spill 4 Comments »

  1. December 12, 2008 1:47 pmVerSolemnis Party Poster: Energy on Paper – Please Critique Me: Design Critiques for Designers by Designers

    [...] trace options in Illustrator too. Copy the effect, open back up Photoshop, and paste it in as a “Smart Object”… the ball is completely in your court [...]

  2. January 3, 2009 1:43 amHellourne Frosthate

    thats nice.
    can a smart object be used across different files?

  3. February 7, 2009 4:09 pmGene DeLallo

    I don’t know what I did but all my images are opening up as smart objects. How can I stop that from happening.

  4. March 14, 2009 2:15 pmbridgette

    when i copy an object in illustrator then paste as a smart object in .psd the scale and proportions do not hold..any way to keep this from happening?

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