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Photoshop Smart Objects explores the creation and use of Smart Objects, one of the most technically demanding tools in Photoshop. Deke McClelland walks through the four primary purposes of Smart Objects, and focuses on one of their most practical advantages, non-destructive transformations. This feature allows any object to be manipulated in any way, while still maintaining its original pixel information. Finally, Deke shows how to crop compositions without affecting a single pixel, even in masks. Exercise files accompany this course.
Download Deke's customized keyboard layouts and color settings for Photoshop from the Exercise Files tab.
Let's start out off with an examination of the fundamental purpose of Smart Objects inside of Photoshop. If you want to follow along, it's totally not necessary because I will be showing you the slide on screen. But just in case you want to show your friends and family, the name of this file that I have opened is purposeofsmartobjects.psd, and it's available to premium members and folks who have the DVD inside the 01_how_they_work folder, which is found inside your exercise files folder. And here's what going on. The idea is that Smart Objects allow you to edit your Edits forever.
So, you are editing the image, but then you can turn around and edit those Edits, so you can modify your modifications, however you want to say it, without penalty. And I am advancing from one layer comp to another, in order to reveal these different portions of the slide. Now this guy right there is the icon. That's the Smart Object icon, and you will see it on any Smart Object layer inside of Photoshop, in the layers palette. And it's analogous to a little image on a page, so you might think of it as being an image that's been placed inside a page layout program, or you might think if it as an image placed inside a protective container, necause that what a Smart Object does.
A Smart Object is a container that protects the pixels in an image, so you can edit your Edits. The pixels are still there. You open the embedded sub-file to get to them. So if you want to modify the pixels inside of a Smart Object, you double click on the Smart Object layer inside the layers palette. Then you have access to the pixels as you normally do, and you can apply your so-called destructive Edits, then you escape out, and you go back into non-destructive mode. You will see all of this, in rich luxurious detail, in future exercises.
But for now, meanwhile, you have access to these whole image manipulations. So that's what Smart Object excel at is whole image manipulations that are ultimately non-destructive. The first and foremost of these manipulations is non-penalty transformations. Now we got that with our first incarnation of Smart Objects inside Photoshop CS2 and it remains possibly the best example of a Smart Object manipulation. So the idea is this. Scaling or rotating makes Photoshop rewrite pixels, and the reason is because pixels are arranged on a grid.
Every single pixel is a square, and every single pixel has a neighbor on each side, on the right side, the left side top and bottom, and diagonally, I guess, as well. So if you start rotating the image, or scaling it, then you have to remap all the colors differently onto a new pixel grid. Now that still happens with Smart Objects because inside a Photoshop you are still working with pixels, nut it happens only once. So transform all you want. In another words, you can rotate a Smart Object an infinite number of times, and Photoshop will still go ahead and generate one rewrite of those pixels, on the fly. Plus, cropping does no harm.
So can't crop a Smart Object when you are working in a larger layered composition. All right, so the next advantage to working with Smart Objects is that you can edit the source data. So, if you import a camera RAW, or a Illustrator file as a Smart Object, so this is an Adobe camera RAW file or an Adobe Illustrator file, you maintain a direct link to the original source information, that would be the high bit-depth information from a RAW digital camera file or the vector information from an Illustrator file.
And you retain access to the program's features. So you can recall camera RAW if you want to, or you can recall Illustrator. And so Illustrator becomes a plug-in for the Photoshop. It's awesome, as we will see. Next, we can create true clones, i.e. Instances, so you can call them either clones if you want to, or Instances, either works. And the idea is this. Every Smart Object layer links to an embedded image, so there's an image, a pixel based image that's embedded inside your larger layer composition.
Copying the Smart Object layer, either by jumping in, or however you want to work, creates a new clone of that same embedded image. If you modify the image, you modify the core image, modify its pixels, then all clones update in kind. And when you are working with symbols inside of either Illustrator or Flash, the various clones of those symbols are called 'Instances'. So that's where this word comes in, just in case you want another vocabulary word. And then next, and finally, we have editable Smart Filters, so the 100 plus commands under the filter menu rewrite pixels.
That's the way they always work. That still happens with smart objects, but only once, just as with transformations. So again, once and only once do those pixels get rewritten, on the fly. The difference with smart filter, that is the difference vis-a-vis, transformations, is not only can you edit those filters, you can apply blend modes and mask the effects. So I was telling you that these are all whole image manipulations. Smart Filters affect the entire image as well, but then you can turn around and mask the smart filter so that you are editing only a portion of the image.
And those are the various functions of Smart objects, the larger purpose of Smart Objects inside a Photoshop. Beginning in the next exercise, I will show you how they work.
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