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When you use Adobe Photoshop to create graphics for your business and its clients, your imagery consists of pixels, tiny square elements that make up the gridded mosaic underlying bitmapped images. Photoshop also supports vector, or path-based, elements, including live type and other forms of imagery.
When you want to convert a bitmapped element to vector paths, you can use several techniques to create elements more reminiscent of a drawing program like Adobe Illustrator than of an image editor like Photoshop.
Press "P" to select the Pen tool. Open the "Window" menu and choose "Paths" to reveal the Paths panel. In the Options bar, choose the standard version of the Pen tool to draw Bezier curves and precise straight lines, the Freeform version to create a loosely drawn result reminiscent of pen on paper, or the Magnetic Pen to draw following the sharp transitions of color or brightness in your image.
Draw your vector paths so they represent a traced conversion of the elements of your image. Press "Enter" to signal the end of a path, open or closed, or click on the opening anchor point to complete your path where it started. Make a selection using any combination of the Marquee, Magic Wand, Lasso and other selection tools. To turn your selection into a path, open the flyout menu at the top right corner of the Paths panel and choose "Make Work Path," or click on the corresponding button at the bottom of the panel.
Set a tolerance value to govern how tightly or loosely your path follows your original selection's boundaries. Double-click on the Work Path that appears in the Paths panel when you first draw with the Pen tool or convert a selection to a path.
Name your path or accept the default "Path [X]," where "[X]" represents a number. Unless you convert your Work Path to a named path, the next action you take that creates a path will replace the vector drawing on your existing Work Path with new vector output. Open the "File" menu, locate its "Export" submenu and choose "Paths to Illustrator.
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Smart Objects are layers that contain image data from raster or vector images, such as Photoshop or Illustrator files. Smart Objects preserve an image's source content with all its original characteristics, enabling you to perform nondestructive editing to the layer. In Photoshop, you can embed the contents of an image into a Photoshop document.
In Photoshop, you can also create Linked Smart Objects whose contents are referenced from external image files. The contents of a Linked Smart Object are updated when its source image file changes. Linked Smart Objects are distinct from duplicated instances of a Smart Object within a Photoshop document.
With Linked Smart Objects, you can use a shared source file across multiple Photoshop documents which is a familiar and welcome concept for web designers. Perform nondestructive transforms. You can scale, rotate, skew, distort, perspective transform, or warp a layer without losing original image data or quality because the transforms don't affect the original data.
Work with vector data, such as vector artwork from Illustrator, that otherwise would be rasterized in Photoshop. Try various designs with low-resolution placeholder images that you later replace with final versions. You can't perform operations that alter pixel data—such as painting, dodging, burning, or cloning—directly to a Smart Object layer, unless it is first converted into a regular layer, which will be rasterized.
To perform operations that alter pixel data, you can edit the contents of a Smart Object, clone a new layer above the Smart Object layer, edit duplicates of the Smart Object, or create a new layer. Note: When you transform a Smart Object that has a Smart Filter applied to it, Photoshop turns off filter effects while the transform is being performed. Filter effects are applied again after the transform is complete. Saving a modified JPEG file requires you to flatten new layers and recompress the image, causing image quality degradation.
The layers are bundled into one Smart Object. Paste artwork from Illustrator into a Photoshop document, and choose Smart Object in the Paste dialog box. In Photoshop, you can create Linked Smart Objects. The contents of Linked Smart Objects are updated when the source image file changes. Linked Smart Objects are particularly useful for teams or in cases where assets must be reused across designs. The Linked Smart Object is created and is displayed in the Layers panel with a link icon.
Note: You can also create a Linked Smart Object in an open document by dragging and dropping the appropriate file while keeping the following key pressed:. Since Linked Smart Objects maintain a dependency on an external file rather than embedding a source file within the containing document, they often result in significantly smaller file sizes. While Linked Smart Objects do not store the original file in the containing document, they still store a flattened and scaled version of the image data from the original file.
In some cases, the size of this data may be much larger than the size of the original file, making the file size savings seem negligible. If an external source file changes while a Photoshop document referencing it is open, the relevant Linked Smart Object is automatically updated. However, when you open a Photoshop document containing out-of-synch Linked Smart Objects, you can update the Smart Objects:.
Linked Smart Objects whose source images have changed are visually highlighted in the Layers panel:. Links nested inside Smart Objects are not updated. You can package the Linked Smart Objects in a Photoshop document, such that their source files are saved to a folder on your computer.
A copy of the Photoshop document is saved along with the source files in the folder. Note: You must save a file before packaging the Linked Smart Objects that it contains.
Photoshop always looks for linked files in the last-known relative location. If the linked file is not found in that location, Photoshop looks for it:. This behavior allows you to move, copy, and share project folders and files with minimal risk of encountering broken links. Note: The Resolve Missing Assets dialog always displays the last-known absolute path of missing source files. Transforms, filters, and other effects applied to the embedded Smart Object are preserved when it is converted.
Note: You can use the toggle switch to turn off layer filtering. Edits you make to the original affect the copy and vice versa. Edits you make to the original don't affect the copy. A new Smart Object appears in the Layers panel with the same name as the original and "copy" as a suffix. When you edit a Smart Object, the source content is opened in either Photoshop if the content is raster data or a camera raw file or the application that handles the placed format by default for example, Adobe Illustrator or Adobe Acrobat.
When you save changes to the source content, the edits appear in all linked instances of the Smart Object in the Photoshop document. Photoshop updates the Smart Object to reflect the changes you made. If you don't see the changes, make the Photoshop document containing the Smart Object active. You can replace the image data in one Smart Object or multiple linked instances. This feature lets you quickly update a visual design, or replace low-resolution placeholder images with final versions.
Note: When you replace a Smart Object, any scaling, warping, or effects that you applied to the first Smart Object are maintained. If there are multiple layers in the Smart Object, the layers are unpacked into a new layer group within the Layers panel. You can rasterize the contents of a Smart Object to a regular layer if you no longer need to edit the Smart Object data.
Transforms, warps, and filters applied to a Smart Object are no longer editable after the Smart Object is rasterized. Note: If you want to re-create the Smart Object, reselect its original layers and start from scratch.
The new Smart Object won't retain transforms you applied to the original Smart Object. Buy now. Work with Smart Objects Search. Adobe Photoshop User Guide. Select an article: Select an article:. Understand Smart Objects. Smart Object benefits. With Smart Objects, you can:. Perform nondestructive filtering. You can edit filters applied to Smart Objects at any time.
Edit one Smart Object and automatically update all its linked instances. Apply a layer mask that's either linked or unlinked to the Smart Object layer. Regular layer and a Smart Object in the Layers panel. The icon in the lower-right corner of the thumbnail indicates a Smart Object. Photoshop A linked Smart Object in the Layers panel. Create embedded Smart Objects. Do any of the following:. Create Linked Smart Objects Photoshop. Follow these steps to create a Linked Smart Object:.
Select an appropriate file and click Place. File size savings using Linked Smart Objects. Update Linked Smart Objects. Out-of-sync Linked Smart Objects are highlighted in the Layers panel. Linked Smart Objects with missing external source files are highlighted in the Layers panel. Resolve a broken Smart Object link. Navigate to the new location of the missing object. Click Place. View Linked Smart Object properties. The following properties are displayed: The path of the external source file for the Linked Smart Object The Linked Smart Object size and positional coordinates X, Y You can perform the following actions directly from within the Properties panel: Edit the contents of the external image file.
If necessary, Photoshop opens an external application that can handle the source image file. For example, Photoshop opens Adobe Illustrator if the external source image is a. Embed the Linked Smart Object within the current document.
Embed Linked Smart Objects. In the Properties panel, click Embed. Package Linked Smart Objects. Select a location where you want to place the source files and a copy of the Photoshop document.
Any audio or video Linked Smart Objects in the document are packaged as well. How Photoshop locates linked files. If the linked file is not found in that location, Photoshop looks for it: In the last-known absolute location Using a saved alias Mac OS only In the same folder as the containing document This behavior allows you to move, copy, and share project folders and files with minimal risk of encountering broken links. Do the following: Select an embedded Smart Object layer in the Photoshop document.
Select the location on your computer where you want to save the source file. Enter a name for the file, including a supported extension. Filter the Layers panel by Smart Objects Photoshop. Filter layers by Smart Objects. Click one of the following icons:. Duplicate an embedded Smart Object.