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Adobe Photoshop CC - Essentials Training

What is a smart object in Adobe Photoshop CC

Daniel Walter Scott

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All right, it is time to learn what a Smart Object is. Basically it is a protective wrapper you put around images that you bring into Photoshop, that protects them, keeps them safe from all your filters, any kind of resizing you do, like a protective wrapper. Now remember, way back at the beginning of this course, remember we made this. We copied and pasted all these different pieces. I'm going to show you what we did wrong in that one, or at least we're going to level up a little bit so that if you do a job like this again, you'll do it the proper way or the more professional way. I'm going to close this one down. 
What I want to do is, I've got this one, and I copy these three images in. This one here, 'Move Tool', click, hold, drag, drag, drag. Holding there. Drag, drag, drag. Cool. So first option. That's perfectly fine. The number 3, click, hold, drag, drag. Holding the mouse down. Let go, and he's perfect as well, but in the last one he's a lot bigger. Remember this, click, hold, drag. Drag, drag, drag, let go. Too big, this happens all the time. Nothing ever matches up in terms of sizes. So what we did is, we want 'Edit', 'Transform'. 'Edit', 'Transform', 'Scale' and we scaled it down, and we kind of got it close. Looks good, we hit 'Return', and that's perfectly fine. 
The only trouble with that is that later on if we make it bigger, we've lost detail. What I mean by that is, let's go to the extreme, let's make it super small. So I'm making it really small here, because I want it as a little icon. Hit 'Return'. It looks fine at that size, but when I say, on that same layer I'm going to scale you back up, scale it back up, hit 'Return'. We've all seen images like that, come through, like email where it's being resized and then made larger again, and it just loses all the detail. So that's the bad way of doing it. Even though we only did a small fraction of that resizing we still lost detail, and it just means later on when I'm working on the project, and I want to resize it, because it needs to be a different, say social media post, needs to be slightly bigger. I'm doing this to it. 
Probably not to that extreme, the way to get round it, is if you go to this one, the same thing, click, hold, drag, drag, drag, and before you do anything, right click the word where it says the name of the layer and go to this one here that says 'Convert to Smart Object'. Nothing changes except, remember this icon, we've seen it a few times before. We've done that when we used this one here, 'Filter', 'Convert for Smart Filters'. There is no difference between doing it that way or the way I just showed you. This method converts it to a Smart Object, and then we apply a Filter or you can right click it down here, and say 'Convert to Smart Object' and then go and play with the filters. Same thing. 
What you'll find is, most people won't call it Smart Filters, they'll call it Smart Object. The difference is, watch this, if I scale it down now, down, down, down, you go; super tiny. Then I scale it back up again, all that detail's still there, and I can go up to that original kind of size roughly before I start losing any sort of quality. That's what it is, just a wrapper that goes around it and holds that quality in there. The only trouble is that, say you have got this image and there's like a thousand of them on this page, this Photoshop file's going to be super big because inside of all those tiny little icons are going to be their full high-res versions. So just be aware of that. 
If you want to remove it, say you're like, "Man, get rid of that Smart Filter" right click, it and there's this one in here called Rasterize Layer. Rasterizing means-- I'm going to remove the wrapper and turn it back into regular old pixels, but I'm going to use this crazy Rastafarian word. I'm going to use this crazy word, Rasterize. Now if I scale it back up, it's going to look bad, so I'm going to undo, undo again. I'm using that shortcut, you can go 'Edit', 'Step Backward'. I'm back to where it says Smart Object. 
A few things to understand about Smart Objects is, there is a few things, not many, but you can't do with them, but you can do with a Rasterize Layer, or just the regular layer. So this one here, I've got selected. If I go up to Filters, there's a few, like Vanishing Point that don't work. And just a few of these, every time I open up a new version of Photoshop, things like Lens Blur don't work, but I bet you, in a future version, that you might be using, that actually works. Now every time I open a backup, like when it first happened, half these things were grayed out, and you couldn't use them but there's just more and more that does become usable. Luckily Lens Flare is still workable. 
There's one other part to a Smart Object, so using images, basically anytime you bring in an image and you need to resize it bigger or smaller, just convert it to a Smart Object. The other side of this is, when we're dealing with Vector objects. Now Vector is, think of them as like Clip Art. You might know what Vector is already. Generally they're created in something like Illustrator. I've jumped to Illustrator here. So these are some graphics, they have a really specific look to them. Often quite flat graphics. The cool thing about them, if I show you this kind of Wireframe view, it's actually made up of, like coordinates and points. So if I click on this guy here it's actually mathematical equations that make this thing happen. 
So the cool thing about that is that it's super scalable. I could scale this up to the size of a mountain, my poor computer would have a bit of a trouble with it but eventually it would render out this ginomous mountain size. It should, because it's just Math, right? The computer love Math, whereas over here in Photoshop, it's dealing with pixels. There's no Math going on here, it's just a collection of cubes. So if I scale that up, it goes that kind of goofy look. So that's the perks of Vector. It's Math, it's coordinates, that's super scalable. Great for logos, text, illustrations, icons, that type of thing. 
So when you're bringing them into Photoshop-- we looked at this a little bit before. So I'm going to grab my glasses, no, I'm going to grab my shoe. I'm going to copy it, just using 'Edit'. 'Copy'. In Photoshop here, I'm going to go 'Paste', and this option appears. Earlier on in the course I said, just switch it to Smart Object. What you might do now is turn this off. Libraries are a little bit more complicated than where we're at right now. Doesn't really matter. What really matters is, we love Smart Objects. Let's click 'OK'. I'm going to scale it down a little bit and I'm going to grab anywhere but the edges. I'm going to have this, I'm going to hit 'Return' on my keyboard to say, "That's it, that's the icon that I want," but later on, I say, "Actually I want a different version of it," so I'm going to duplicate it. 
I should name it, I'm not. So I got two versions of this thing, but this guy I want to be super big. So because we use the Smart Object and because it is a Vector file it can go as big as we like, and you can see, still got really sharp edges. I'm going to make, I don't know what I'm doing with this but it's got a giant shoe end thing. Hit 'Return'. I'm going to drag the layers down so it's underneath everything. So I got this giant shoe for no good reason. That's the cool thing about it, is that it is Vector, it's scalable and as long as I use a Smart Object I can keep making it bigger or smaller. Now if your brain has melted with the whole Vector thing switch your brain off now because we're going to get just a tiny bit more nerdy. 
Because we copied and pasted this from Illustrator and because it's Vector, there is a nice little trick you can do. So this over here has a little icon for a Smart Object. If I double click a Vector object it'll open up in the program that made it, in this case it's Illustrator. So if I double click the icon. not the original, it hasn't gone back to that one I copied from, it opened up a separate file in Illustrator called Vector Smart Object, and in here is my object, and I can do some stuff. If you haven't done Illustrator before I've got an Essentials and an Advanced course for Illustrator, go check that out but for now I'm just going to grab the white arrow and I click on this blue stuff here, I'm going to pick a different color. Colors, you, that color and I'm going to destroy it a little bit. 
So I'm going to-- not sure what I'm doing. Here you go, I'm going to hit 'Save' and check it out in Photoshop. You can see the color changed, and there's the big bump on it. So it's really handy if you are still kind of working through, you got both programs open, you're copying and pasting, you need to adjust it because the nice thing about it is that, see the big version change, but even the teeny tiny version changed, they're all connected. So that my friends is a Smart Object. 
Let me just kind of recap. Basically bring in an image, any image, convert it to a Smart Object. Continue with life, forget about all the stuff I've said. It's just going to be better for you because it's a protective wrapper that goes around your image saving all the quality as good as it can. If you start working with something like Illustrator, or Corel Draw, or copying and pasting stuff from InDesign, does the exact same thing. It will ask you, "Do you want to be pixels?", "No." "Smart Objects?”, "Yes." And that's all you might do. But if you are a person happy to use Illustrator or InDesign to kind of do this kind of Vector illustration you can double click on the icon down here, and it opens it up. You can make changes, hit 'Save', and it updates in Photoshop. 
All right friends, that is going to be the end of Smart Objects. On to the next video.