In each version of Photoshop, new features are introduced that Adobe feels will improve the way we use their software. Over the years there have been hits and misses (anyone remember Vanishing Point?), with very few features that most people would consider a game-changer. Certainly the introduction of Layers way back in Photoshop 3.0 was a significant, fundamental change. I believe the recent addition of Smart Objects runs a very close second to Layers in its importance to the way we use the program.
So what is a Smart Object? A Smart Object is a different kind of layer that I think is best thought of as a container. Instead of thinking of pixels on a separate layer, with Smart Objects we need to think about a container that has contents that could be pixels, text, shapes and even Camera Raw. In the video below, the container (or box) is a Smart Object that contains a photograph. If we scale down the container to make it smaller, the photograph also becomes smaller. But compared to regular pixels that cannot be scaled back up again without losing quality, a Smart Object container always remembers the original size of the image. That means at any time, even after closing and saving the file, you can scale back up to the original size.
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