Smart Objects in Photoshop

Disclaimer:  I am by no means a PS guru, expert, teacher or anything of the sort.  I’m a student trying to learn concepts motivated by my Photoshop final next week.  These posts are study aids to get me through this exam.

I wish I have paid a bit more attention to the lecture on Smart Objects, but here’s my recollection.

Smart Objects preserve an image’s source content with all its original characteristics, enabling you to perform nondestructive editing to the layer.  Found that definition on the web so it must be true.  🙂

A RAW file and a layered document can be contained in a Smart Object.  To access all the layers within the Smart Object, double click on the smart object layer in the layer palette.

What’s fun or interesting is that:

  •  On Smart Objects you can perform nondestructive transforms e.g. scale, rotate, warp without losing original image data or quality because transforms don’t affect the original data.
  • You can link SOs such that changes to the SO will effect other occurrences of the image.  (Not shown here)
  • Filters you place on SOs are retained and able to be edited and blended.  And you can put masks on your filters.
  • Smart Objects are the ideal solution when you are working with projects that will change a lot, e.g. layouts.
  1. To create a Smart Object you can Open as Smart Object Command or simply click on the layer, Layer->Smart Object->Convert to Smart Object like I’ve done here.

Screen Shot 2016-06-06 at 7.15.19 PM

Then all the transforming you do to the image will not effect the quality of the image.  Believe me.  🙂

When I add filters like Blur, Lens Flare, and Noise they are noted as effects under the Smart Object layer pictured below:

Screen Shot 2016-06-06 at 7.19.02 PM

Note in the screen shot above the tiny little Smart Object indicator in the bottom right corner of the Smart Object Layer.  And see the list of filters now called Smart Filters that are underneath the Smart Object.  These can be fine tuned by double clicking and adjusting their options.  You can also effect the blending mode between the filters and mask their effect on the image.  For example:  if you paint black on the mask the filters will not effect that part of the image.  In the banner image I painted black on the filter mask to remove the smart filters from the subject’s face.

The difference between Smart Objects and regular layers is that transformations would have totally destroyed the original image.  And if you wanted to change the settings of the filters you’d have to Undo and start over.




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