The layers containing image data from vector or the raster images are called Smart objects, such as Photoshop or Illustrator files. Smart Objects preserve the image’s source content along with all of its original attributes, allowing non-destructive editing of layers.
You can embed image content in your Photoshop document. You can add an external file referenced content in your Smart objects. The content of the linked Smart Object is updated when the source image file changes.
Linked Smart Objects are distinct from duplicate Smart Object instances within a Photoshop document. Linked Smart Objects allow you to work with source files that are shared between multiple familiar Photoshop documents and leverage concepts for web designers.
Smart Object Advantage
You can use Smart Objects to:
Non-destructive deformation can be performed. Because non-destructive transformation does not affect the original data, layers can be scaled, rotated, skewed, distorted, perspective deformed, or warped while preserving the original image data or quality.
You can use vector data, such as vector artwork in Illustrator. Without Smart Objects, this vector data is rasterized in Photoshop.
Non-destructive filtering can be performed. You can edit all the filters applied to Smart Objects whenever you want.
You can edit a single Smart Object and automatically update all instances associated with it.
Apply a layer mask that is linked or not linked to the Smart Object layer.
Try out different designs with low-resolution placeholder images that you will later replace with the final version.
You cannot paint, dodge, burn, or duplicate the pixel data directly on the Smart Object layer. The exception to this is if you first convert the Smart Object layer to a normal layer that will be rasterized. To work with changing pixel data, edit the contents of a Smart Object, duplicate a new layer above the Smart Object layer, edit a duplicate of a Smart Object, or create a new layer.
If you transform a Smart Object with a Smart Filter applied, the filter effect is turned off while the transformation is taking place, and the filter effect is reapplied when the transformation is complete. For more information, see About Smart Filters.
Photoshop Smart Objects benefits
General layers and Smart Objects in the Layers panel. The icons in the lower-right corner of the thumbnail represent Smart Objects.
Smart Objects in the Photoshop Layers panel
(Photoshop) Linked Smart Object in the Layers panel
Create an embedded Smart Object
Use the Open As Smart Object command, import a file (Photoshop CS6), import a file as an embedded file (Photoshop and Photoshop CS6), paste data from Illustrator, or combine one or more Photoshop layers as Smart Objects. You can create linked Smart Objects in several ways, including transforming.
Do one of the following:
(Photoshop) Choose File> Place Embedded to import the file as a Smart Object into an open Photoshop document.
Choose file than open As Smart Object than select a file of your choice and click open
(Photoshop CS6) Choose File> Place to import the file as a Smart Object into an open Photoshop document.
You can import JPEG files, but it’s better to import PSD, TIFF, or PSB files because you can add layers, fix pixels, and save the file again without loss. To save the modified JPEG file, you need to flatten the new layer into the background and recompress the image. However, doing so will reduce the image quality.
Choose Layer> Smart Objects> Convert To Smart Object to convert the selected layer to a Smart Object.
Drag a PDF or Adobe Illustrator layer or object into your Photoshop document.
Create Linked Smart Object | Photoshop
The Linked Smart Objects feature is available in Photoshop CC version 14.2 (January 2014) or later.
You can create linked Smart Objects in Photoshop. The content of the linked Smart Object is updated when the source image file changes. Linked Smart Objects are especially useful when working as a team or when you need to reuse assets across multiple designs.
Below are steps to create a linked Smart Object.
Choose File> Import Included.
Select the file and click Import.
After the linked Smart Object is created, it is displayed with a link icon () in the Layers panel.
You can also create linked Smart Objects in an open document by holding down the following keys and dragging and dropping the appropriate file.
(Windows) Alt key
(Mac OS) Option key
Turn off Preferences to change this default behavior> General> Always Create Smart Objects On Import.
File Size Savings Using Linked Smart Objects
Linked Smart Objects can often significantly reduce file size because they do not embed the source file within the document containing the object and maintain a dependency on external files. Linked Smart Objects still store a resized, merged version of the image data in the source file, even if the linked Smart Object does not save the original file, in the document containing the object. In some cases, the size of this data is much larger than the original file, so the file size savings may seem insignificant.
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