Dec 16, 2014

How to Master Smart Objects in Photoshop

Today’s episode is all about smarts! Tap in to the amazing power of Smart Objects, Smart Filters, and linked objects in Photoshop!

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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    Patrick Dillon

    Thanks for putting out your great tutorials and tips. I bought a set of your PS actions too.

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    Why use regular layer ever?! With smart object we have better control for everything in PS.
    P.S. Thanks for everything! Greatings from Serbia!

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      The main disadvantage is the file size…smart objects increase the file size significantly over a non-smart object file. However, that is only for the saved file, i.e. a .psd or .tif As you publish in a .jpg, it ceases to be a problem.

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    Hi Aaron, thanks for that great episode!
    Yet there are some disadvantages with smart objects I’d like to know how you deal with. E.g., applying the patch tool requires the layer to be rasterized. What is the best way to deal with that?

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      Campos Emmanuel

      Double click on the smart object it will create another document for you edit the file as you want then save the file and every changes you made will be applied on the original file. Hope u nuderstand me am a learner.

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    I’d love to see a tutorial where you put multiple layers into a SmartObject and if you have examples where this is useful. thx!

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    Smart objects have saved me from time to time. Great tutorial Aaron.
    I was wondering if you could do a tutorial on how to make a set of actions that enhances a outdoor portrait. There is a growing number of outdoor portraits that have rich dark colored backgrounds with amazing softness. Would really like to know how that is done.

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    Alan Kesselhaut

    Another outstanding tutorial. We here at Princeton Photo Workshop want to wish you and all the Phleaners a Very Merry Christmas and a Healthy and Happy New Year.

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    Ken Parnell

    I only use smart objects but I like Christoph would like to see how Phlearn handles the smart objects so it doesn’t have to be rasterized.

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    Erik Ryan

    This was really interesting. I have been wondering what smart objects were used for.
    As always THANK YOU for all the help!!

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    Great as always! What disadvantages do you see to using smart objects all the time? Thanks for being willing to share your knowledge and skill.

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    Lynn Letteris

    I recommend your videos to members of my photography club. They are easy to follow, especially for a novice. Thank you for your skill and effort.

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    When I try an Link an object, on the file menu I only see “Place..”. Is this a Photoshop CC 2014 feature? (I use Cs6 and windows)

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    Hi. i could not find in my photoshop Convert to smart option.Could You tell me what i did wrong?

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    Hi Aaron,

    this is great. I never understood the benefit of smart objects until today.

    Thank you so much


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    Allan K

    I sent you a response to a more current episode on using “smart objects” and I am going to restate my question in this episode. Why don’t you use smart objects more in your retouching tutorials? Are smart objects not practical? When and why do you use smart objects? What Photoshop capabilities are lost when you convert to smart object that would not make smart objects practical for retouching? What are the pros and cons to using smart objects??????????

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    Abby Lippitt

    Hello, Aaron love your tutorials very helpful. I please like to ask you a question on Smart objects if possible?
    I please would like know if this is way to use Smart objects for their Hi-Rezdetail, edit your object purposely collapse/ compress them back into the original document while keeping all your edits and Hi-Rez detail to save on ram? if If so what is the procedure?
    I looked all over the net and have not found an answer to this question. I am using Photoshop CS6 extended and running OSX System Mavericks. Please note using the CC is not possible for me. I need a solution with in Photoshop CS6 extended.
    Thank you very much for your help,