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8.1 Understanding Photoshop Smart Objects

Now that we have some solid Photoshop skills under our belts, we need to ensure we do not destroy our original artwork. Smart Objects are an amazing feature that every new user should understand. Learn how to use smart objects in Photoshop in this lesson.

8.1 Understanding Photoshop Smart Objects

Hi there, in this video we're going to look at what a smart object is. A lot of people ask me, why should I be using them? There are lots of forums people say always use smart objects. Okay, we're gonna dive in, figure out the pros and cons for them right now in Photoshop. All right, so we're gonna look at the two parts. We're gonna look at smart objects images, and then we'll look at it for things like logos and icons, they traditionally call vector objects. So, to get started, make sure you've got 16a open, okay? 16a-smart-objects from the source files. Now let's bring in and image, now we're going to do it our way. File > Open, and let's open up the one called 16b, okay? Another image from Norwood themes, great, so we're gonna use our track move tool, click All drag, drag, drag. We've done this before, we're getting pretty good at it, right? Okay, and we've got our image here. It's really big, okay, lots of quality in there, awesome and I wanna scale it down. So what I'm gonna do is I'm gonna show you the wrong way, while the way we've been doing it and then the new fancy way. So I'm gonna grab my Edit > Transform and Scale, I'm gonna use my shortcut. Cmd + T, zoom out a little bit, okay, I'm gonna scale it down to something more appropriate. Let's say I get it down to this size, for what reason? Mainly just to show you an example, let's say I wanna use it quite small, I'm gonna remove the background. It's gonna be this little petite thing in here, okay? I click Return, done, then later on I'm, actually, what I might do is make it bigger. So I'm gonna use my shortcut again, Cmd + T on a Mac, Ctrl + T on a PC. And I'm gonna make it nice and big, what you'll notice is, can you see the quality of this guy here? I want it nice and big in here, okay? Hit Return, the quality just disappeared, okay? And that's where the value of a smart object comes in, okay? If you make it really small, Photoshop goes, okay, I'm gonna get ri of all of the pixels I don't need. And when you make it bigger, they're just not there anymore, unless we use a smart object. So with this layer selected, I'm gonna delete them, okay? And we are gonna bring in the proper way. So same technique, try to get across to this tab here. And before you do anything, right-click the layer where it says Layer 1, okay? And we are gonna hit Convert to Smart Object and nothing looks like it changes. Okay, the only thing that changes really is the icon here on the thumbnail that wasn't there before. We turn it off, turn it back on, cool, so that is yeah, basically all you need to do. You don't need to remember to do much, okay? But what happens now if I go to my Transform, I scale it down smaller, okay? Petit, I'm not sure why I use that word [LAUGH], okay. Bad transform, hold down Shift in, okay, hit Return. It's really teeny tiny, zoom in, okay, but when I make it bigger. Let's go, you can see all the quality is still here, okay? So that's the perfect, though, that's the kind of thing for smart objects. What it is, is, think of a wrapper that goes around the outside, it's like a little cocoon. Hit Return now, it's a little cocoon that I put the image inside, okay? That protects it, so even though I make it smaller it's in this kind of protective shell, inside that shell is still a full quality image. Now your file size will be bigger, okay? Cuz we've got the big version in there but it means that it gives me lots of flexibility later on to do resizing. And it protects it from what's called destructive editing, things that will wreck the image, okay? You can kind of do stuff to it but inside is still the good version. What I'm gonna do now is, do this I'm gonna play with my layer order. Now, just so you know the structure of this, I made a rectangle using the Rectangle tool, where is it, yeah, okay. And then I added our color over Gradient Overlay. We did this earlier in the course, right? I've got some ticks there as well. All right, the next thing we're gonna do is we're gonna look at, so images are used that way. That's the best way to use them, let's look at, say, our icons and logos. So let's bring it in and you can bring in logos two different ways. I'll show you two different ways cuz if you've already got Illustrator skills, what you're probably gonna be doing is working in Illustrator. So I'm in Adobe Illustrator, you don't have to do this. You can just watch, if you don't have Illustrator installed. I'm gonna File > Open to my exercise files, I'm gonna open up this one here, 16c, it's my vector logo. And the cool thing about this, so Illustrator is really handy for drawing things like logos and icons, okay? Better than Photoshop but let's say it's being drawn in this program, what I can do is grab my black arrow, select it all, go to Copy. Okay, hit it Copy, jump back into Photoshop. Okay and then go hit it Paste and here you'll be, default pixels and pixels is not the good way, we love smart objects, okay? Let's do the before and after, so I'm gonna bring in Pixels. I hit Return, okay, to get it the right size, I'm gonna do the same thing, I'm gonna paste it again. So I got two options, one is smart objects, let's turn off Add to my current library for the moment, doesn't really matter. Let's click OK, I'm gonna hit return, get it the right size. So now I have two using both methods, okay? And the difference is going to be that same scaling thing there. So I'm going to zoom a little bit, so you can see it and they're both the same kinda quality at the moment. So this is my second one, that's the first one. Let's name them, let's go, no smart, Not Smart, this one here. And Very Smart, I'm gonna Stick both of them at the same time. Click the first one, hold Shift, click the second one. I'm gonna use my shortcut for scaling, remember, Cmd + T on a Mac, Ctrl + T on a PC. And get ready for it, let's zoom out, okay? And let's make this thing very big, and I'm gonna hit Return, you'll notice that the one on the left here, okay? Is, let's have a little look, one on the left here is horrible. You've all seen that, okay? It's all pixelated and there's interpolation everywhere. See this guy, smart object man is, look how crispy he is, or she, it's probably a she, okay? So that is the big difference, okay? When you bringing in logos or icons, you've got from, say your Envato Elements account. And it does give you the option, it says, would you like it to be a smart object? Yes, object, smart object is the way to go. Why would you not use a smart object? There is a handful of saved filters up here that just won't work. If there is lens blue, it won't work, if it's a smart object. Every new version of Photoshop, they seem to be able to include more and more of these features. So smart blue doesn't work on that but let's look at the Not Smart Object, okay? And let's go to Filter >Blur and Lens Blur is available, so that's one of the drawbacks, okay? The other drawback it makes the file size big, let's say you did wanna use Lens Blur, okay? So I'm going to get rid of my Not Very Smart layer, goodbye. Let's say I'd like this though, and I'd like to kinda make it nice and big. But I wanna add a Lens Blur to it, so it's not gonna work until convert it back into a not smart object, okay? And what that's really called is if you right-click the word Very Smart. There's one that says Rasterize Layer, nothing's gonna change, except now when I scale it up, it's not gonna have made crisp quality. It'll scale down just fine, but any bigger it's not gonna be having to redraw. So I don't want to do Filter, just kind of an example I guess, I'm gonna go to Edit > Step Backward until my little icon appears. And I'm gonna show you one of the other perks for using a smart object, especially with things like logos and icons. So I'm going to do a couple things, I'm gonna shrink it down, cuz it's meant to be kind of over here. My arrow key is just to tap it around my keyboard. Let's make it white, with this layer selected, we're gonna use the Effects and we'll use Color Overlay. And mine's already defaulted to white, which is cool, click OK, and so I've got that version, right? Now I wanna use it in a kind of a hero graphic way, so that big kinda thing you saw at the beginning, kind of covering the background. So I'm gonna right-click him, I'm gonna duplicate him. I'm gonna give him a name, let's call him Hero Graphic. So I've got two of them now, kind of on top of each other. I'm gonna scale this one up, and because it's a smart object, it's got all the lovely vector, hit Return when you're finished. I'm gonna lower the capacity, to kind of make it a more of a watermark thing in there, here it looks okayish. And so where the perk is, I've got two versions of this now, and let's say that I'm still developing this logo or icon and I wanna change it. There's a really cool, neat little trick you can do with smart objects. I can double-click, let's say, the Very Smart option. Double-click the thumbnail with this little icon, double-click it. Now it's gonna open up in the program that created it, okay? So in this case, it's gonna be Illustrator, okay? So I'm gonna click OK, and what it does is, you see that original copied across okay? It's a second version layer, they're not connected. That original one I made and copied in, doesn't have any sort of connection so, I'm just gonna close them down. But this guy here, this is a vector smart object, there's a total connection back to my Photoshop. What I can do is let's zoom in, okay? I'm just gonna do a real basic, use my white arrow, gonna click on this thing here. And I'm just gonna drag the point, over the handles, I'm just, I don't know what I'm doing right now. Okay, so I'm just adjusting this, okay? Plants ask for changes or I just don't like it, when I hit Save, so I'm go over File > Save. Jump back into Photoshop, you ready? You see, it got the little tab there, okay? That's a little thing we made, okay? There he is there, there's the big tab there, so they're connected together, okay? So it makes for lots of changes, especially if say you use the logo a few different times, okay? It's all connected, even if you're just using it once. It's nice to be able to go inside, make a change and see it update across different artwork. I am totally wrecking this thing now, just cuz. That is right, save it, jump back in here, you can see I've wrecked my logo. Jump back in here, and do it, save it, back into here and it updates. So to recap, basically bring in an image, whatever size it is, you can put it into a smart object, do your work. If you have to convert it to a non-smart object, okay? It's right-clicking it and rasterizing it, there are some extra perk for vector and objects, okay? Copying and pasting from, it works the same for InDesign or Illustrator, copying and pasting logos in. And the other thing I'll quickly show you is, instead of copying and pasting from Illustrator, you can use this file. And this one it says Place Embedded, click on this. I can do the same thing without having to open up Illustrator. You might not be that keen on it, you might not have any skills in Illustrator so you can go straight to here. Bringing in your vector file, Place, everything's perfect, click OK. And entering your keyboard to get at the right size. And cool thing about that is that Photoshop is clever enough to say I'm just gonna make him a Smart Object. So you don't really need to, I guess, make that decision at the beginning. But you still have all the same perks of being able to double-click it. Go into it and make adjustments, and go back in again and have it update in Photoshop again. All right, smart objects, kind of confusing, easy with images. You're gonna be doing lots of images, so 100% smart objects all the time. All right, I think I just need to finish this video now, and we'll get on to the next one. Where we look at some of the Transform and Warp tools, pretty exciting, cool, fun Photoshop stuff. Let's jump into there now and get started.

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