Articles, Blog

How to Use Smart Objects in Photoshop

November 1, 2019

Hey, everyone! Howard Pinsky here with a short
tip on why you should be using Smart Objects, whenever you get the chance. Here’s a free template that I released a few
days ago on, which is perfect for designers looking to showcase their business
cards on their portfolio, and if I select the layer that contains the image of my business
card, you can see, in the Layers panel, that it’s been converted into a Smart Object. Now before I get into why this is so important,
let me first show you how frustrating this edit can be if you don’t use a Smart Object. Over in this document, I have the back of
my business card. To make the transport easier, I’m going to merge all the layers with Command
or Control Shift and E, or Merge Visible under the Layer menu. Once the layers have been merged, I can drag
it over to my template document. Now comes the fun part! This layer needs to be transformed
to fit the slanted business card. Entering Free Transform Mode with Command or Control
T, I can now hold down just Command or Control to edit the perspective of this layer. Each
corner can be dragged to match the perspective of the business card. Now, while this certainly did what we wanted,
editing the card at a later point would require you to repeat that whole process. What a pain!
Let’s now look at the smarter way, using Smart Objects. Hmm, that joke sounded better in
my head. Anyways, as I said earlier, the business card
layer is a Smart Object, and just like any Smart Object, a simple double-click on the
thumbnail’s layer will bring up the containing document. Now, any changes you want to make
to the business card’s design, can be made right here. You can either create your design
right in this document, or bring in a design you’ve already created. So let me hop back over to the back design,
but this time, instead of merging all the layers, and losing all that data, you can
simply drag the layers of this document over to the Smart Object’s document. Then once
you save the Smart Object, with Command or Control S, the template updates with your
new design. And the best part of this, is it’s completely
editable! At any point, you can double-click on the Smart Object, and edit away. Your changes
will appear on the cards once you save. And that’s how you can use Smart Objects to
quickly and easily update designs like this, which again, you can download for free on


  • Reply TheBetterGamer June 12, 2013 at 7:34 pm

    Well that's only for updating already placed objects. Not for any other use that you could have, but didn't, go over.

  • Reply Kaminari Gold June 12, 2013 at 7:34 pm

    how do i preset a logo so it can show up in the same place (like in a corner) if i were to have to do it on a whole album

  • Reply Vukmon June 12, 2013 at 7:40 pm

    You are one of rare guys that with short videos tell us so much!

  • Reply DigitalSystematic June 12, 2013 at 7:43 pm

    When I was working at a branding company, one of the artists showed me that you can drag a layers style properties (ie, drop shadow) as a completely different layer with a hotkey, anyone wouldn't happen to know how I might do that?

  • Reply Kerpaltheballer June 12, 2013 at 7:57 pm

    That's the word "patron". The website he is using is pronounced exactly how it's spelled, "patreon".

  • Reply AQuantumCraig June 12, 2013 at 7:59 pm

    Great. I did not know that this was possible.

  • Reply janvoslos June 12, 2013 at 8:11 pm

    Since iOS 7 has a very minimalistic look, i would like to much my app icon with that minimalistic look. Would you make a tutorial on how to replicate some of the icons?

  • Reply Howard Pinsky June 12, 2013 at 8:13 pm

    I will probably be creating a tutorial on how to create an app icon shortly.

  • Reply janvoslos June 12, 2013 at 8:14 pm

    That would be awesome! thanks

  • Reply kijang777 June 12, 2013 at 8:24 pm

    I facing printing problem for my art project by using Photoshop CS6. I needed your help. I hope you can help me solve the problem. The main problem is the color is not accurate when printing hard copy. I always follow gamut warning guide in colour picker,using RGB 8 bit in colour setting,convert any image used to RGB. I save the PSD in JPEG then i print out but the printing result is not same as digital copy.I hope i can get your email and send some screen shot.Anyways, thanks you so much!

  • Reply Howard Pinsky June 12, 2013 at 8:28 pm

    If you're designing for print, your color mode should be set to CMYK. RGB won't give you accurate print results.

  • Reply kijang777 June 12, 2013 at 8:42 pm

    Really? I confused with colour setting. I just using cheap Canon inkjet printer. I have using CMYK setting last month for banner project (commercial printing not inkjet) but it turn out very bad. I have been save in PDF for printing, it turn out missing word and object because it cant read the colour. 🙁 Now i needed trying again and printing in CMYK format. I also will be posted on your facebook page for more detail. Thanks for fast respond!

  • Reply FatRabbitRush June 12, 2013 at 8:42 pm

    I wasn't mentioned in the supporters : I chose to do $20/month via paypal but you haven't gotten in touch with me yet via email. I've missed out on advertising myself through this video post.

  • Reply Howard Pinsky June 12, 2013 at 8:46 pm

    Sorry about that. The PayPal donations were handled separately, and haven't been assigned rewards yet. I haven't gone through all the PayPal donations yet. I'll be sure to add you in the next video if you're still a supporter.

  • Reply FatRabbitRush June 12, 2013 at 8:48 pm

    Alright, I think I'll hold off further donations until the paypal system is operational, seems a bit unfair to paypal supporters atm.

  • Reply Howard Pinsky June 12, 2013 at 8:52 pm

    You can also use Patreon and max out your donation, if that makes it easier. 🙂

  • Reply FatRabbitRush June 12, 2013 at 8:52 pm

    So no recognition for the $20 already donated?

  • Reply Howard Pinsky June 12, 2013 at 8:54 pm

    I can't edit this video, but yes, you'll be a supporter on the next video.

  • Reply FatRabbitRush June 12, 2013 at 9:00 pm

    Yes, I'm going to revue the options. Error on my part for donating blindly with out a laid out perks structure via paypal option. Let's just skip listing me on the next video, I don't want to make a big deal out of this. I just want to know how my name/website or whatever package I decide on will be listed. Currently I do not want my legal name listed, just company but let's just skip it all for now to simplify your work load. I'll take a look into Patreon options in the future.

  • Reply Howard Pinsky June 12, 2013 at 9:02 pm

    For sure. If you go with Patreon, shoot me a message on there to let me know what you want listed. 🙂

  • Reply Piero Vera June 12, 2013 at 9:51 pm

    Hey Howard, do you know if you can do this in CS3? Thanks 🙂

  • Reply Howard Pinsky June 12, 2013 at 10:04 pm

    Yep! Certainly will be covering Smart Objects in more detail soon!

  • Reply Howard Pinsky June 12, 2013 at 10:04 pm

    You should be able to. I believe Smart Objects work the same in CS3.

  • Reply Piero Vera June 12, 2013 at 10:05 pm

    Well they've been around since CS2, so I hope so, thanks. 🙂

  • Reply Howard Pinsky June 12, 2013 at 10:12 pm

    Yep! More of those coming soon!

  • Reply SwayDesignzz June 12, 2013 at 10:15 pm

    Thanks man. Forreal.

  • Reply Nefashus June 12, 2013 at 11:13 pm

    Awesome 🙂

  • Reply Captain Peroxide June 12, 2013 at 11:17 pm

    Be smart, use Smart Objects !

  • Reply stefnic23 June 12, 2013 at 11:18 pm

    Can you do a tutorial on how to make the business card template? Thanks

  • Reply DarkJohnny_xD June 12, 2013 at 11:48 pm

    Hey Howard, I have two question, the first. I wanted to be a designer ( I don't know what courses to take in college) but, will it be best to invest in a Wacom, Or any other tablets? The second question. Is Photoshop on CC a great subscription purchase?

  • Reply Howard Pinsky June 12, 2013 at 11:51 pm

    Definitely invest in a Wacom tablet. They'll make your editing much smoother. Photoshop CC is nice, but you may be able to get CS6 from your school for a nice low price.

  • Reply DarkJohnny_xD June 13, 2013 at 1:57 am

    Is there any tips you can give me for college courses to take? I have always designed backgrounds and business cards, but I've always wanted a degree….

  • Reply André Santos June 13, 2013 at 2:32 am

    If i had a job and money.i paid you with good will but im broke 😛
    Thank you very much for all the tutorials.

  • Reply Lucas Thibau Paulino June 13, 2013 at 2:50 am

    Howard, teaching how to do this mock up things is a great idea! =D

  • Reply Drop3dlvl3 June 13, 2013 at 3:50 am

    Damn this is a great tip im glad i subbed everytime i see one of this.

  • Reply favbeats June 13, 2013 at 4:53 am

    thanks for the download

  • Reply Tommy Scott June 13, 2013 at 11:11 am

    Oh my god you sound and look like seldon cooper

  • Reply Billy Brown June 13, 2013 at 11:15 am

    That is probably the best Smart Object video I've ever seen! You are definitely worth more than you're getting.

  • Reply John June 13, 2013 at 4:00 pm

    Some tutorial of depth of field in Photoshop CS6 (depth maps)

  • Reply Dylan Alsop June 14, 2013 at 3:41 am

    just made a video on How to use the dodge burn and sponge tool in Photoshop CS6

  • Reply titus b June 14, 2013 at 6:47 am

    Nice tutorial. What I would like to see, how you make the card-stack!
    Thank you.

  • Reply Dino Mehic June 14, 2013 at 11:57 am


  • Reply thealexis38 June 14, 2013 at 1:09 pm


  • Reply Gezim Sadrija June 15, 2013 at 1:58 pm

    Why not 1080p?

  • Reply bigballbubblehead June 17, 2013 at 12:31 pm

    your voice is mesmerising

  • Reply winsevenholic June 18, 2013 at 10:23 am

    good video, thanks for the video 🙂

  • Reply grantmeagher June 24, 2013 at 1:01 am

    Thanks Tom!

  • Reply RobynLTW June 29, 2013 at 5:22 pm

    IADT's Graphic Design degree actually gives CS6 Master Collection for free, once you reach DESIGN140, which I start next month, so I'm super excited about it 😀

  • Reply itsandrewalexander July 2, 2013 at 1:51 am

    Hey Howard, I was wondering how do I make the two places that the business card image is seen two different image? For example, the stack the front side image of the business card and the slanted card the back side image of the business card.

  • Reply Carlos Peña July 7, 2013 at 12:16 am

    Thanks! 🙂

  • Reply Mostafa Salem July 7, 2013 at 2:24 pm

    Hey Howard, thank u for this great tutorial, I have a question, Now i'm working on a JPEG Image and I've selected an area (like the Business card in this video) and converted it into a smart object, but the problem is when I double click and open it in a new tab It's not appearing in a "FRONT RECTANGULAR VIEW " (Like you open it) , it appears like the area i've selected,,, The question is "How can I make it A Front View & just put the other image" ?? .. Pls answer, thank u 🙂

  • Reply Mj Daly July 28, 2013 at 5:37 am

    thanks for the tutorial .. but can you make one to tell us how to create that mock-up ?

  • Reply skimbo72 August 9, 2013 at 6:53 pm

    Howard – where did you get your ps, ai plushies?

  • Reply skimbo72 August 9, 2013 at 6:54 pm

    Where are my manners – thank you!

  • Reply Howard Pinsky August 24, 2013 at 6:55 pm

    Archived video: Using Smart Objects can help improve and speed up the work flow in your projects. This video explains how they work.

    Download the free business card template:

    Subscribe for more:

    NEW tutorial coming on Monday!

  • Reply Andreas Ahoniemi August 24, 2013 at 7:10 pm

    Hey, thanks for the tip man! Will deff use it!
    Lots of love to you!

  • Reply Kevin K. August 25, 2013 at 4:33 am

    Smart Objects exist all the way back to CS2 I believe.

  • Reply ahmad alshalabi August 25, 2013 at 9:49 am

    hey howard , i need the fonts that you used in your card please 🙂

  • Reply yellow mellow September 25, 2013 at 4:39 pm

    i really thank you to all your tips! thanks XD its really helpful

  • Reply Sara Hemmer November 6, 2013 at 6:52 pm

    Howard, a ?: I place an image as a smart object in PS (CS5), double click to edit that photo, save the image (as same name), close and return to master document, but no updates appear. I saved, closed and reopened, still not updated. Waht gives?

  • Reply Malu Quinteros November 28, 2013 at 12:54 am

    Hi, I have a question..what if I wanna put the back AND front of my card into the template?

  • Reply Matt Whitby November 28, 2013 at 11:47 pm

    But no tip on how to create smart objects.

  • Reply Will Zach January 7, 2014 at 12:00 am

    Thank you so much this helped a lot!

  • Reply Thiago Vidal March 19, 2014 at 12:04 am

    "Hey guys and thanks for watching that tutorial"… You can hardly call that tutorial. Is just a demo showing what Smart Objects are, not how to make them.

  • Reply Ahmed Qureshi June 16, 2014 at 11:56 am

    Hey Howard i wanted to know. how to make thickness of cards without losing its originality. i mean if someone want to change the color of stack too. how would it be done. ?????

  • Reply Rico Smith October 1, 2014 at 5:36 am

    I wish that there were as great illustrator tutorials on Facebook.

  • Reply • Freaz • February 10, 2015 at 9:17 pm

    That so easy! but your video helped me, i was totally lost.
    Thx! 🙂 

  • Reply Chasing Tiny Toes March 25, 2015 at 9:21 am

    You are so awesome!!! Thank you so much this is exactly what I've been looking for 🙂

  • Reply We Love Design July 18, 2015 at 1:16 am

    HOW TO ????????

  • Reply Aston Van Eldik October 20, 2015 at 5:36 am

    Sorry, but I am working on a similar project for some shop front signage, and both signs are in perspective ie. like you business cards, but when I create the smart object and then place artwork in and saving it, it comes in flat and not in the perspective that I would like… Any help???

  • Reply Tarik Samad November 18, 2015 at 11:13 am

    Thank You!

  • Reply SilverDays November 25, 2015 at 2:01 am

    How am I able to use this across Photoshop, Illustrator, and Flash and be able to editing without it creating a bunch of clip groups or movie symbols and bitmaps?

  • Reply Mark Pom December 14, 2015 at 1:24 pm

    THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THIS INFORMATION! I was struggling with editing smart objects but now I'll have no issue. Thanks again Howard

  • Reply Brian Peabody March 3, 2016 at 8:51 am

    Hey Howard I am taking an image and making it into a triptych. I am selling gallery wrapped canvas so I want each piece in the triptych to appear 2 inches thick on the left side. I also add a drop shadow for some more effect. This takes awhile using rulers, marquise tool, cutting, changing perspective. Is there a way I can use a smart object on this? Maybe I can turn this into one layer. Any help would be appreciated.

  • Reply Pedro Nogueira April 3, 2016 at 6:30 pm

    Hello Howard,
    Wish you had a business card mock up tutorial but with automatic stack side appearance because that’s the part I don’t know how to do it :))))))

  • Reply Francisco Dias May 16, 2016 at 7:44 pm

    Awesome video! Are you able to do a video showing how to create a stack of business cards on photoshop? Thnx

  • Reply eurossocial May 20, 2016 at 4:00 pm

    GREAT tutorial!! Thanks a lot 🙂

  • Reply Ofelya Petrosyan October 6, 2016 at 4:57 pm

    Ohh thank You. We should go to date Howard 😀

  • Reply Brittany Jean October 20, 2016 at 2:44 am

    This is the first smart objects thing I've read or watched that made sense to me. Thanks!

  • Reply San Joaquin Delta College December 3, 2016 at 1:18 am

    Need to start from scratch.

  • Reply VOLUM December 26, 2016 at 9:44 pm

    Okay, but how do i convert a layer to a smart object?

  • Reply Omer Khan January 12, 2017 at 11:22 am

    Subtitles are helpful 🙂 Thanks A lot

  • Reply Jay February 16, 2017 at 7:54 pm

    Thanks but it would be a more complete video if you would show how to create, change, go in and out of smart objects. Maybe in a next video you can include that info. In any case, thanks for sharing knowledge

  • Reply Post 20XX April 13, 2017 at 11:17 pm

    Dude you sound like Greg Miller

  • Reply Bryan Silva April 29, 2017 at 8:14 pm

    Useless, not even a tutorial.

  • Reply Goku supersaiya September 20, 2017 at 4:08 am

    bro u are good guy, thank you sharing knowledge. hope you can do more video ..

  • Reply phelangk dithebe December 14, 2017 at 10:50 pm

    hey love your work just wanna know why is the download link misdirecting me when wanting to download the psd

  • Reply American Berserker January 8, 2018 at 1:50 am

    thank you thank you thank you

  • Reply Adriana Mejia May 21, 2018 at 7:34 am

    VERY helpful, thanks!

  • Reply KingS Gamers July 5, 2018 at 8:50 am


  • Reply Troll Face July 5, 2018 at 7:44 pm

    Why you sounding so excited for? are you making this video on a laptop on top of a helter-skelter ? It's quite annoying.

    Shut the fuck up, you over-excited four-eyed git !

  • Reply Benjah Mwaler July 28, 2018 at 6:43 am

    i have learned something

  • Reply Jasparina M July 31, 2018 at 4:33 am

    I think you skipped an important step, which is how to CREATE the smart object. That would be helpful for beginners who are wondering how to create a smart object before you can use it.

  • Reply Richard Wing August 3, 2018 at 12:21 pm

    Is there another place to download the psd? the place you hosted it is no longer in business.

  • Reply Sudhakar Jain September 9, 2018 at 1:16 am

    It's too fast, not understood.

  • Reply ludwig calder October 13, 2018 at 4:18 am

    That was an overview. Not a tutorial. I'm sure you've done this before many times, so probably didn't think it important to disclose HOW to create that smart object. Going off to search for a REAL tutorial…

  • Reply E Y December 27, 2018 at 4:41 am

    Thanks !!!

  • Reply Zero Wolf May 3, 2019 at 2:05 am

    Awful tutorial

  • Reply Stephen Docherty May 13, 2019 at 9:18 pm

    false adverting

  • Reply Bea Lopez May 14, 2019 at 3:27 pm

    Tangina wala ako natutunan

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