What you need to know about smart objects in Photoshop

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With the recent introduction Associated Smart Objects (linked smart-objects) in Photoshop CC, Smart Objects (Smart Objects) have become much more powerful and useful. Many resources at the Envato Market site, for example, are created as smart objects so that you can work with them much easier.

In this lesson, I will share with you ten tips you need to know about working with smart objects in Photoshop. Let’s get started!

1. Creating smart objects

Smart Objects (Smart Objects) can be created in several ways, and as a rule, the type of smart object that you create depends most of all on how you create them and where. For example, you can create Related Smart Objects (Linked Smart Objects) for Photoshop CC version 14.2 or Embedded Smart Objects (Embedded Smart Objects). Smart objects can be created from the palette. Layers (Layers) by clicking on the layer with the right mouse button, or you can create them by simply dragging the necessary elements onto your canvas.

2. Saving the quality of the bitmap

Preserving the quality of your layer is one of the main features of smart objects. Working with layers of bitmap images in Photoshop can be very destructive for them. Even such simple manipulations as, for example, rotating images with the tool Free transform (Free Transform tool) may cause loss of image quality. When you convert a raster layer to a smart object, Photoshop saves an embedded or linked file in which it stores the necessary information about the original image. Thus, it can maintain the quality of the original image regardless of how many times you resorted to changing the size of the smart object layer. Here you can draw an analogy with working with vector objects, with only one difference: when scaling smart objects upwards in size, and if this increase is larger than their original size, it will still result in pixelation and quality loss. Images.

3. Saving settings with free transform

One of the important features of smart objects is how they behave when saving tool settings. Free transform (Free Transform) that you apply to them. If you distort a smart object in a certain way, for example, and apply a transformation, then your original transformation will still be available if you need to configure it a little later.

4. General source

If you duplicate a smart object in the usual way in a Photoshop document, the same embedded or linked source file will be used for both copies. This means that you can duplicate the smart object several times and make changes to all of them, just by making changes to their common source file.

5. Create a smart object through copying.

If you need to duplicate the smart object, but you want to be sure that the two copies are not linked to the common source file, then you need to use an option like Smart object through copying (Smart Object Via Copy). Thus, you can separate the duplicate layer from the original smart object. The only drawback of this method is an increase in the size of your file.

6. Replacing content

Replacing the contents of a smart object is fairly easy. All you need to do is double click on the layer thumbnail and edit the source file. You can truly appreciate the benefits of this feature when working with the tool. Free transform (Free Transform tool), when using it you distort or rotate the smart object.

7. Associated smart objects

This option was introduced in Photoshop CC 14.2 and made it possible to use external source files for smart objects. This feature has several advantages, but the biggest one is that you can now use an image or vector graphics file in several Photoshop documents as Associated Smart Object (Linked Smart Object). If you convert the original object, it will automatically lead to changes in all of your PSD files. Another undoubted advantage of related smart objects is that they do not increase the file size.

8. Convert text layers to smart objects

Text layers can be scaled (scale), rotated (rotate) and tilted (skew) without rasterization, but, by default, they cannot be distorted in a non-destructive way. The best way to keep them editable is to convert them into smart objects. This will make it possible to perform distortion operations, giving you access to editable text inside the smart object source. The same approach can be used when working with smart objects in the program for working with vector graphics Adobe Illustrator.

9. Using smart filters

Another equally important advantage of smart objects is that they transform ordinary Filters (Filters) in Smart filters (Smart Filters) non-destructive type. These editable effects can be added and controlled separately. There are only a small number of filters that cannot be used as smart filters, one of these filters is Perspective correction (Vanishing Point Filter).

10. Smart Filter Mask

When you start using smart filters, you may notice an additional white rectangle below the layer thumbnail in the palette. Layers (Layers). This is the smart filter mask. It can be used to mask the effects of filters applied to this particular layer.


Smart objects are an incredibly powerful tool in Photoshop. They can be used not only to speed up your workflow, but also to preserve the quality of your images and reduce file sizes. I hope that you have learned something new from this lesson, and will be able to apply this knowledge to improve the technique of working with smart objects in Photoshop.

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