Smart Objects in Photoshop CS5 - dummies

By Jennifer Smith, Christopher Smith, Fred Gerantabee

Choose File→Place and place an image, an illustration, or even a movie into an Adobe Photoshop Creative Suite 5 document. You can then see that, as always, a new layer is created and — even better — a Smart Object is created. The double square icon in the lower right corner of the layer thumbnail indicates that this layer is a Smart Object.

What does being a Smart Object mean? It means that you have much more flexibility in the placement of your images.

Have you ever placed a logo, only to find out later that you need it to be three times its size? Resizing is no longer an issue, because the Photoshop Smart Object is linked to an embedded original. If the original is vector, you can freely resize the image repeatedly without worrying about poor resolution.

Want to change the spelling of the Illustrator logo you placed? Just double-click the Smart Object and the embedded original is opened directly in Adobe Illustrator. Make your changes, save the file, and — voilà — the file is automatically updated in the Photoshop file.

What could be better? Smart Filters, of course. You can apply Smart Filters to any Smart Object layer, or even convert a layer to use Smart Filters, by choosing Filters→Convert for Smart Filters.

After a layer has been converted to a Smart Object, you can choose filters, any filters, and apply them to the layer. If you want to paint out the effects of the filter on the layer, simply paint with black on the Filter Effects thumbnail. Paint with different opacities of black and white to give an artistic feel to the filter effect.

You can even turn off filters by turning off the visibility on the Filter Effects thumbnail by clicking the Eye icon to the left of the Filter Effects thumbnail.

Cover the filter effects.
Cover the filter effects.