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Never lose a pixel: Transform better with Smart Objects

Added on Tuesday 22nd of August 2006 06:21 am EST
 

Applications:

Adobe Photoshop CS2, Adobe Illustrator CS2, Adobe Bridge CS2

Operating Systems:

Macintosh, Microsoft Windows

 

If you’ve been too intimidated by Smart Objects to give them a whirl, you’re missing out on one of the most powerful features released in CS2. Smart Objects allow you to scale and transform a layer to your heart’s content but never lose a single pixel of data from that layer. While it sounds unbelievable, we’ll show you how you can use Smart Objects to keep your images looking sharp.

 

To reap the benefits of Smart Objects, we’ll:

     Explain what Smart Object are and how you can make them work for you.

     Show you how to place a vector graphic into Photoshop as a Smart Object and preserve the crisp vector characteristics.

     Describe how to create a Smart Object from existing Photoshop layers or files for remarkable image preservation.

     Show you how even RAW files are related to Smart Objects.

     Describe how to properly edit and save a Smart Object and avoid any confusion in the process.

 

It’s a known fact that once you scale an image in Photoshop, you’ve degraded the image quality, even if only slightly. If you make multiple adjustments, and try to scale back to original size, you’ll no doubt make the image a whole lot worse. Photoshop CS2’s Smart Objects feature changes all that. With Smart Objects, you can scale, rotate, skew, and warp your layer as many times as necessary and preserve the high quality of the layer in the process.

 

What’s so smart about Smart Objects?

New to Photoshop CS2, Smart Objects have been around in Adobe GoLive since version 5. A Smart Object works as a layer that’s actually an embedded copy of a native Illustrator, Photoshop, or RAW file. Because Photoshop embeds a copy of the original source file, every time you scale or transform the Smart Objects layer, Photoshop revisits the original embedded image data. The layer transformation is regenerated with the new specs as if it were transformed for the first time, so you won’t get any ugly distortion as illustrated in Figure A.

A-

 

Smart Objects and Illustrator

We’ll start with one of the most common ways you can benefit from Smart Objects: using vector graphics. In the past you’ve had the option to open an Illustrator file in Photoshop and rasterize it, which discarded the vector data. Or, you could have pasted it as paths, which would retain the vector path information, but not the fill.

With Smart Objects you can paste or place your vector data, and it remains vector. Plus, it displays with the same high quality no matter how you transform it ,! First, we’ll show you how to paste an Illustrator Smart Object into Photoshop, and then we’ll show you how to place it.

 

To paste an Illustrator Smart Object:

1.       Copy your object in Illustrator.

2.      Paste it into an open Photoshop document.

3.      Choose Smart Objects in the resulting Paste dialog box, as shown in Figure B.

B

 

 

4.      Press [return] to accept the place, and your Layers palette will display an icon indicating the layer is a Smart Object, as shown in Figure C.

C

 

To place an Illustrator Smart Object into Photoshop:

1.       Open an existing or create a new Photoshop document.

2.      Choose File > Place to display the Place dialog box.

3.      Navigate to an Illustrator vector file and click the Place button.

4.      Click OK in the resulting Place PDF dialog box if it displays. If it doesn’t display, proceed to step 5.

5.      Press [return] to accept the place.

 

 

Smart Objects and Photoshop

Smart Objects aren’t just for vector data. If you’ve ever made ...