Placing an Illustrator graphic

show more Placing an Illustrator graphic provides you with in-depth training on Design. Taught by Deke McClelland as part of the Photoshop CS5 One-on-One: Mastery show less
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Placing an Illustrator graphic

In this exercise, I am going to show you how to bring an Adobe Illustrator graphic into Photoshop as a Smart Object. There is all kinds of reasons you might want to do this. For example you might prepare a logo inside of Illustrator or some other kind of specialty type or a dynamic effect or there are all kinds of things that Illustrator does better than Photoshop. Bear in mind, the two programs serve very different purposes. Photoshop despite its prowess in other areas is ultimately a pixel-based image editor, whereas Illustrator is ultimately a vector-based drawing program.

So, they really do work hand-in-hand with each other. If you bring an illustration into Photoshop then you really turn the two programs into kind of sister applications, so that you can rasterize the Illustration on the fly inside Photoshop then you can double-click on the Smart Object layer to open the illustration in Illustrator, make modifications, save your modifications back to Photoshop and so on. It's actually a remarkable solution. So, what we are going to do is we are going to grab a fairly simple illustration and we are going to apply it to this guy's arm as a tattoo.

Now the name of this image is Meaty bicep.jpg found inside the 29_smart_objects folder. It comes to us from Vladimir Wrangel of the Fotolia Image Library about which you can learn more at Now, there is a handful of ways of bringing an illustration into Photoshop as a Smart Object. One is to go up to the File menu and choose the Place command or if you load the dekeKeys you've got a keyboard shortcut of Ctrl+Shift+Alt+D or Command+Shift+Option+D on the Mac. Then navigate your way to the 29_smart_objects folder. You'll see more files in this but one of them will be Tiger

Go ahead and click the Place button in order to bring up the Place PDF dialog box. Now, I've got my Thumbnail Size set to Fit Page so that we can see a big if a little bit jagged version of a preview of this illustration. Note, that it says Place PDF even though this is an .AI file, meaning it's a native Illustrator graphic, it has a PDF version of that graphic built into it. I'll show you how to make sure that you save your illustrations with PDF definitions as well but for now, I'll just go ahead and click OK in order to place that graphic.

It will come in very large because Photoshop is sizing the graphic according to how big it was drawn in Illustrator in the first place relative to the size of your image. That's not anything to worry about, because you can resize this graphic any which way you like. In fact, Photoshop is inviting me to resize the graphic first thing. So, I'll go up to the Options Bar, click on the Link icon and I'll change the Width value let's say to 50%. Now, I am by no means locked into this value here. I can transform this graphic later as much as I want. Because it's a vector-based Smart Object, it is ultimately protected from damage.

It works like any other vector object inside of Photoshop which would include text or vector-based shape outlines, path outlines, vector masks and so on. All right, so I am going to go ahead and press the Enter key a couple of times or the Return key on the Mac to accept that resizing. Now, we have a Smart Object layer and you can tell it's a Smart Object because of this little icon there. Notice it's a page with a little linked file next to it. What that's really telling us is we have now embedded the entire .AI file into this Photoshop composition.

The AI file actually exists inside of the Photoshop document. Now, I can double-click on that thumbnail in order to open the file in Illustrator anytime I like. This is not a link, this is important to bear in mind. We are not linked to that Tiger file on disk. We could make as many changes to that file as we want and this Smart Object would not change. This as an embed meaning that the illustration and this Photoshop composition cannot be separated from each other. I'll press the Backspace key or the Delete key on the Mac to get rid of that new layer.

Another way to work here inside of Photoshop CS5 is to go ahead and drag and drop the file from the desktop. So, here is the folder at the desktop level, here in the Explorer on the PC, it would be the Finder on the Mac. I am looking at the contents of the 29_smart_objects folder. The content so far again, those of you who are working along with me will see many more files in this. I would just go ahead and grab Tiger tattoo. ai and I would drag and drop it into Photoshop. I get that same Place PDF dialog box I got before, I'd click OK and then I would be allowed to scale my file as I place it.

I am going to Cancel because I want to show yet another method. I'll bring up my Mini Bridge so that's an option as well and I can get it by clicking on this little Mini Bridge icon in this column of panel icons that I've setup or I could go up here to the Applications Bar and click Launch Mini Bridge. Notice that I've navigated to the 29_smart_objects folder and there's my Tiger graphic. By the way I should say this is not mine, I did not draw it. It comes to us from Miguel, also of the Fotolia Image Library. I am going to go ahead and drag and drop that guy into place, I'll get the same dialog box.

I will once again click OK. Then I will be invited to size the graphic, I'll go up to the Options bar, turn on Link icon, change the Width value to 50%, yadi-yada. Press the Enter key or the Return key on the Mac a couple of times and Bob's your uncle, there is your tiger. Anyway, I am going to hide the Mini Bridge. Now, I do want you to note one thing. I am going to press Ctrl+K or Command+K on the Mac to bring up the Preferences dialog box. There's this check box right there that says Place or Drag Raster Images as Smart Objects. You probably want that to be turned on that's a good idea.

But notice that it says Raster Images and if I hover over it, it even goes so far as to tell me this does not apply to placing vector or video files. So, what we just did happens no matter what. Whenever you're bringing an Illustrator file into Photoshop it comes in as a Smart Object. If you choose the Place command or you do a drag and drop from the desktop level or you do a drag and drop from the Mini Bridge or you do a drag and drop from the Bridge; you can to do that as well. So, any of those methods that's going to bring the .AI file in as a Smart Object no matter what, it could be a PDF file as well incidentally.

Anyway, I just you to note that this check box specifically applies to raster images that is pixel-based images saved into JPEG format, Tiff or what have you. All right, so I am going to Cancel out. It's still a good idea to have the check box on and it already is for me so I am going to Cancel out here. There is one more way believe it or not to bring in Illustrator Smart objects in the Photoshop, and that's to do a copy inside of Illustrator and a paste inside Photoshop and I'll demonstrate how that works in the next exercise.

Placing an Illustrator graphic
Video duration: 6m 30s 20h 1m Advanced


Placing an Illustrator graphic provides you with in-depth training on Design. Taught by Deke McClelland as part of the Photoshop CS5 One-on-One: Mastery

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