Smart Objects come highly recommended for anyone using Illustrator and Photoshop in conjunction as it enables users to speed up their workflow significantly.
Smart Objects and Illustrator go hand in hand when transferring your brilliant vector artwork to Photoshop. This very useful featured can be covered in three simple steps: Copy, Paste, Position.
Copy: I have just finished this piece of vector work in Illustrator and now want it in Photoshop, ideally fully editable. To do this I select all of the lines and hit Cmd/Ctrl + C for copy.
Paste: I switch over to Photoshop and hit the friendly Cmd/Ctrl + V key to paste it into the document, ensuring that Smart Object is selected when the paste options show up.
Position: The vector graphic appears with the familiar transform box around it. Because the artwork is a vector from illustrator, and photoshop recognises this, the pasted in graphic can be scaled endlessly. Simply position and hit enter to confirm.
Done! Now I can close Illustrator without saving.
But wait, you might be screaming at the computer right now saying things like, “Why is this guy recommending me close down all my hard work without saving? The smart object is not even fully editable!” Do not worry, I am not mad and endlessly rescaling is not the end of the magic for Illustrator and Smart Objects. All of your hard work is still there, fully editable, except it is saved within the photoshop document as one single layer object. You now only have to ensure that you save the .Psd file and not the .Ai one too. Don’t believe me? Double click the Smart Object’s icon in the layer palette. Cool no?
When the Smart Object’s icon is double clicked Photoshop opens the object in Illustrator so we can reach all of those beloved vector shapes again. Everything we copied is there, exactly as it was when it was originally in Illustrator. Even better than that is rather than having to copy, paste and re-position the updated artwork back to Photoshop again, you only have to press save in Illustrator and Photoshop updates it’s version of the Smart Object with all of your transformations and positions still applied. The object is saved inside the .Psd so Illustrator will not ask for a location on your hard drive to save the artwork to.
All these workflow improvements from a simple copy and paste. Who knew!