When you first start using Photoshop you may watch a few videos to get started. When I first started using Photoshop, this was what I did. I wanted to understand it better and know what I was doing. But a lot of times these tutorials would mention something called a smart filter or smart object. I couldn’t understand the concept. In my research to understand it better so that I can use it better, I have finally just begun to understand what smart filters and smart objects are.
Hopefully, by the end of this tutorial, I will have explained it well enough that you too will understand it – hopefully, better than I did when I first started.
We’re going to start with smart objects. What are they?
Well, let’s discuss using a regular layer first. When you use a regular layer, you can actually have a more destructive way of working. You may duplicate to keep your original image from getting ruined, but then if you are still wanting to change something later, you are going to have to go all the way back to the beginning to redo.
But, let’s say that you change your image into a smart object. Using smart objects means that if you change something later on, it will automatically update and change it right away so that you’re not having to go all the way back to the beginning, without having to even touch that original image at all! This gives you a more efficient and effective way of working that will also provide you with more flexibility and more quality in your workflow.
Here’s a video by Howard Pinsky explaining the way that smart objects work. (How to Use Smart Objects in Photoshop)
Using Smart Objects
When changing an object into a smart object you can right click to the right of your image in the layers panel. Click on the “Convert to Smart Objects”. You will notice that in the bottom right corner of your thumbnail image in the layers panel there will be a new little icon that looks like the new layers icon with a smaller square in front of it.
This is the icon that is indicating that your image is now a smart object.
As you decide to make changes to the original image, click on the smart object thumbnail. It will automatically pull up the image in another window. Make the changes that you want. Save the image and it will automatically change it on the image that you’re working on.
I love to use masks, but smart objects are an easier way of getting the same job done faster, with better quality and more efficiency.
With regular objects, if you scale them up and down inside your image and press enter, there will be pixilation and destructiveness being effected in the image. But, if you are using a smart object and you scale an image up and down and continuously press enter, you will have no destructiveness inside your image and it’s maintained its quality. In fact, if you are using an image that is not a smart object, the more that you scale it up and down the more quality you are going to lose.
So I hope that this has helped you understand how smart objects work. And I hope to see you using them more often in your artwork.
Please let me know what has helped you better understand smart objects in the comments below.
Have fun creating!!