Join Justin Putney for an in-depth discussion in this video Grouping and reusing content inside Smart Objects, part of UX Design Tools: Photoshop.
In this video, we're going to take a look at creating smart objects. Smart objects are just that. They're quite smart. They can be made up of Photoshop documents. They can be made up of Illustrator documents, and you can actually go back and edit the original, and your changes will ripple back into your main Photoshop document, if you have multiple instances of the smart object, the change will actually show in all of those. One other great thing that smart object's do, is they retain the original pixel integrity. So if I had something let's say 500 pixels wide.
I can scale it up, scale it down. And every time I do so, if it's a smart object, Photoshop looks inside that smart object, grabs the original, and then re-samples it based on the original, without degrading it, so that original quality is always in there. And if it happens to be a vector object, you don't lose that perfection of the original vectors. Let's create the thumbnails for these videos. So in the layers panel, we're just going to make sure that's selected, add the pass panels selected from the previous video. Should find that there's a video thumb grid layer folder in this document.
Make sure that's selected. And go over to your shape tools, and click and hold and make sure you have the rectangle tool selected. And we're going to make a rectangle with a white fill. So I'm going to select white as the fill. And a black stroke, that is 3 points wide. And I'm just going to hit the return key. And then I'm going to draw the frame for the thumbnail, between the guidelines, and just make it a nice rectangle that's a little bit wider than it is tall. And that looks good and you can see that that's gone right into the video thumb grid layer folder.
And that's just fine. And now let's create a new layer. Inside that layer, we're going to add the icon. So click and hold the rectangle tool, and go down and change it to the custom shape tool, and then go up to the shape option in the control bar, and make sure you have that play icon selected that we created in the previous video. So just draw out a play icon about in the middle of the thumbnail, and you can hold the shift key to constrain the proportions, and let go.
And then let's change the fill to solid, solid black, and let's change the stroke to none, and we'll hit return, and then I'm just going to click off of that shape so I can see what it looks like. And that looks pretty good. If it's not exactly where you want, you can of course select the shape, grab the move tool, and you can re-position and I'm just going to undo that move cause it had, I had it pretty much the way I wanted it, If I want to make a small adjustment, may be I want to like one or two more pixels to the right, I can use the arrow keys on my keyboard to make small adjustments.
And, I think I'll just rename these layers so I'm going to double click on the name. Maybe I'll call this icon, and I'll double click on the rectangle one, and rename that border, and now what I want to do is copy this, so that I have 9 thumbnails in total. In this grid, and then eventually, I want to put them in the side bar as well, so I want this you know, really easy to copy. For right now let's focus just on this grid, and so what I'm going to do, is select both the border layer, and then I'm going to shift click, and select the icon layer so I have both of those selected.
And then I'm going to right click in the layer's panel on those 2 selected layers, and choose convert to smart object. And it picked up the, the name of the, the last selected layer, but I'd like to change that. So I'm going to double click on that name, and change it to video thumbnail, or maybe just video thumb for short. And now to save myself a little effort, because I always like saving myself effort, I'm going to make sure I have the move tool selected, and the video thumb layer selected. And then I'm going to click on the video thumb, but when I do so, I'm going to hold down the Option key, or Alt, on Windows, and then I'm going to hold the Shift key so that I can strain In the horizontal direction.
And I'm going to position that thumbnail, right in the middle, of the guides. So I have my second column thumbnail, in place. And I'm going to do the same thing for the, third column. So now I have a nice row. And, you know maybe that's not, exactly where I wanted it. Just use the arrow key to adjust it a little bit to the left. And now, no it looked better where it was. There we go, that looks nice. So just make some fine adjustments with the arrow keys as long as I have the move tool selected and the layer is selected in the layer's panel.
So now that I have this row done, I think I'll just save myself a little more time and shift click so I have all 3 of them selected, and I'll right-click again and say convert to smart object, and now I'm going to rename the smart object. I'm going to call it Video Thumb Row. And now that I have this Video Thumb Row selected, I'm going to do what I just did with the individual thumbnails. I'm going to hold down the Option or Alt key, and drag down, and again, I'm going to hold Shift. That'll constrain the, the direction of vertical for me.
And get that into position above the text on the second row. I'm going to do that one more time, so that I create a third row. So now, I have the entire grid completed, and it's made up only of 3 smart objects. Now if I need to make any edits on this, I can double-click on the icon. You can see the icon actually has like a little document, and a little rectangle. And that's telling me it's a smart object. So if I double-click on that icon, Photoshop will give me a little message about the smart object, and basically it's just telling me that in order to commit my changes, in this original document, I have to save the document that contains my smart object.
So, I'll click okay, and Photoshop will open up a new document, that is the smart object. So, even within this document, I have these 3 smart objects. So I could actually go into this object. I could double click, click okay again. And I have my original thumbnail. So, I have access to all this artwork. I can make changes. I could change the border. Maybe I want the border to be gray. So let me select the rectangle tool. I'll change the stroke to, kind of a medium gray. And, and I'll just hit enter, save, and then I'm just going to hit Command W, or Control W on Windows to close that.
And it's already taken effect in this smart object, and just in case I can hit command S to save and make sure. And command W to close, and now that's rippled through, I've now edited every single thumbnail in here, just by making one edit to one smart object. And my layers panel is much cleaner in my original document. It's really easy to see what I have. And it'll make it easier to reuse this for future documents. So that's just a little hint at how powerful a smart object is.
In the next video we'll take a look at another way to reuse some content.
- Setting up files
- Building live shapes with the Rectangle tool
- Using character and paragraph styles
- Organizing content into layers
- Building layer comps
- Creating and reapplying custom shapes
- Using Smart Objects to group and store elements
- Saving and using layer effects
- Exporting artwork