How to Master Smart Objects in Photoshop

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Smart Objects

The main reason for converting to smart objects is that you’re able to retain the original size of the image. If you don’t convert to a smart object, pixels will be lost when scaling up and down.

You can test this out by transforming your image. Hold Cmd + T, shrink your image, and click enter. Now hold Cmd + T again and bring it back to a larger size. Sadly, the image will start to be completely blurred and pixelated. By converting it to a smart object instead, you have more flexibility in editing because you won’t lose any of the image during transformations.

To create a smart object, right click on the layer and select “Convert to Smart Object.” It’s that simple!

Smart Filters

Once your layer has been turned into a smart object, you can work with smart filters. All this means is that any filter or effect you apply to a smart object will automatically become a ‘smart filter.’ You will see it stacked under the layer, and are able to go into it and edit it. You can also turn the effect on and off, and even change the blending mode!

Linked Objects

Linked objects can be extremely helpful for when you need to reference and update multiple documents at once. If a change is made on the original document, it will be applied to all of the linked documents when saved.

All you have to do is go to File – Place Linked. Choose the file you’d like to use, and hit place. Now, your original image’s changes will appear on all of the linked files. Hooray!



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30 thoughts on “How to Master Smart Objects in Photoshop

  1. I'm surprised if no-one else hasn't reported the fact that there is a distinctive clicking noise in the background of this video!

  2. Thank you for your time and efforts. Because of this lesson I've learned to solve a small issue that was causing a large problem with the completion of our project. We are at a further advantage for having access to this information.

  3. Hey Aaron,

    Thanks for this tutorial. I have two questions actually. One is related with what you have shown here: linking an object to different documents – what good is making a change to change every linked document if you can duplicate the original after you have done whatever change? Sorry, maybe an illiterate question (I meant what's the use of it?)

    The second is actually the one I'm searching for the answer: If there is a way to split one document into let's say 9 pieces and making those different pieces as smart objects so that I can create a template to change the smart objects' contents for creating different outcomes.

    Thanks in advance.

  4. "We did some great things in this episode. First, we sharted,"…Lol Love it.
    You just saved me a butt-ton of disk space. Thank you for this. You Rrrrock brother.

  5. So I used the quick selection tool to cut out people for my thumbnail, I paste them to overlap the image I took for the thumbnail. Then I convert the image I used the quick selection tool on into a Smart Object and the quality is still not good. Any help?

  6. Why did the pic which was not a “smart object” lose its definition when you only shrank it and then brought it back to its original size? It should have maintained its original resolution. The only reason it should be pixelated is if you made it much bigger than its original size.

  7. hi there. thank you for your perfect tutorials. i have a problem with photoshop. i make lots of animations so need to duplicate a layer many times to merge it to other layers one by one. is there any easier way to do so?

  8. I have a question. I noticed my.photoshop, cs6, doesnt have the place linked or place embedded, it only has place under the file options. So does that mean i cant use place linked or place embedded? I really need to use place embedded for this project im working on.

  9. Pls. How you can edit the layer which you applied smart object to it ? In your video I saw the layer was editable in same file , whereas when I am using it , photoshop saying that I can't do that! Unless I get out to other file.

  10. This is something that Photoshop should just do out of the box. This is exactly how DAWs work, nondestructively with audio. I bet if audio guys looked at this they'd wonder why Photoshop doesn't just allow one to work nondestructively, rather we have to assign this mode. Simply stupid.

  11. So what it does is allows you to work with layers nondestructively while tracking changes and allows you to treat effects as layer masks individually and allows you to go back and alter the effects intensity even after the effect was applied. That's all you had to say.

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