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Chapter Twelve. Layers > Smart Objects

Smart Objects

Q1:How do I create a Smart Object within Photoshop?
A1: There are a couple of ways:
  • Select a layer (or several layers) and from the Layer menu, choose Smart Objects>Group into New Smart Object.

  • Use File>Place to import an image into your existing document.

Q2:How do I create a Smart Object from an Illustrator (.ai) file?
A2: You can copy from Illustrator (Edit>Copy) and choose Edit>Paste in Photoshop. In the resulting dialog, choose Smart Object. Or use File>Place in Photoshop, and once you've sized the placed Illustrator file, it will automatically become a Smart Object.
Q3:What can I do to a Smart Object without having to rasterize first? I tried to use the Clone Stamp tool on a Smart Object, and a warning dialog said I'd have to rasterize first. Is there a way around that?
A3: There are a limited number of functions you can apply to a Smart Object without having to rasterize: opacity, layer blend mode, transform, layer styles, and layer masks. If you try to paint, clone, heal, apply a filter, or do anything to the pixels themselves, you'll get the warning dialog.
Q4:How do I include a clipping mask in a Smart Object? When I try to turn several layers into a Smart Object, the clipping mask no longer takes effect. How do I get around that?
A4: Unfortunately, Smart Objects can't include a layer clipping mask. The only solution—if it's possible in your situation—is to use a layer mask rather than a clipping mask. Just click on your Smart Object's layer, click on the Add Layer Mask icon at the bottom of the Layers palette, and paint with black on the layer mask.
Q5:How do I link a Smart Object with a layer mask? When I add a layer mask to a Smart Object, I can't seem to link them together. Why?
A5: You'll have to ask Adobe for the technical explanation, but unfortunately you cannot link the layer mask and the Smart Object. If you need to reposition the Smart Object and its layer mask, you'll have to drag each one separately. Here's one possible solution: Go to the Create New Adjustment Layer pop-up menu in the Layers palette and add a Levels adjustment layer directly below the Smart Object. Click OK without making any changes to Levels. Click on the Smart Object and press Command-Option-G (PC: Control-Alt-G) to create a clipping mask. Now paint with black on the Levels layer mask to hide portions of the Smart Object. To move them together, hold down Shift and click on both layers in the Layers palette, then use the Move tool (V) to drag the Smart Object and the adjustment layer at the same time.



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