Warping Vector Smart Objects – Illustrator Transform

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Warping Vector Smart Objects – Illustrator Transform

Here’s a quick tip for unlocking all the Transform functions when working with Vector Smart Objects.

In the example below I have two versions of a logo placed as Smart Object Layers – the top one is Vector-based and contains an Illustrator file, the bottom one is a standard Raster-based Photoshop layer that has been converted to a Smart Object.

warping vector smart objects

If we go to apply a Transform to the Raster Smart Object we’ll see all options are available.

transforming raster smart objects

However, when choosing to Transform the Vector Smart Object notice our list of options is partially greyed-out. Perspective, Distort and Warp are all disallowed.

This can be a nuisance when comping Illustrator art into Photoshop as we often need to ‘map’ the artwork onto surfaces to give the impression of 3 dimensions.

transform vector smart objects with perspective, warp and distort

I’m sure Adobe will remedy this with a future update but, for the time being, there is a simple work-around.

With the Vector Smart Object selected go to Convert to Smart Object – seems counter-intuitive as this is already a Smart Object but, essentially we wrap one inside the other and Photoshop now treats this as a Raster Smart Object.

make vector smart objects work as raster smart object

When we go to apply a Transform we now see all the options are available and our Smart Object can be Warped, Distorted etc.

vector smart object not scalable though

As with all good work-arounds there is one caveat. Although this contains a Vectors Smart Object which would normally scale without resolution issues the second conversion, when we Convert to Smart Object again, makes this behave as pixels so scaling and warping etc will lead to pixelation.

Currently, the best option to combat this is to start with ‘over-sized’ Vector Smart Objects so that any transformations will tend to scale down rather than up. Hopefully, in the future, Adobe will find a way to include complete Transform control for all Smart Objects – until then this is a reasonable work-around and is quick to apply.