The Ultimate Adjustment Layer in Photoshop – Using Smart Objects
Most of us begin editing our RAW files using Adobe Camera RAW. It’s a great tool – there’s all kinds of goodies tucked away behind tabs, links, and the like.
Here’s one some may not be aware of: you can set Camera RAW to open your image as a Smart Object.
Well, so what? The benefit is that a RAW file which is opened in Photoshop as a Smart Object can be re-edited again and again in Camera RAW with a simple mouse click!
Here’s how it works:
Open your image in Camera RAW. Make your adjustments as you normally do.
Next, note the link at the bottom of the Camera RAW dialogue box (red circle).
If you click on it, you’ll see this:
This dialogue provides tools for color space, image size, etc. Note the red circle at the bottom, which indicates the check box where you can tell Photoshop to open this image as a Smart Object. Click on this, and then click OK.
In the main Camera RAW dialogue, the Open button will change to Open Object. Click on this.
Your image will open in Photoshop as it normally does, with one exception – the preview in the Layers panel will look different.
In the lower right corner of the Layer preview, you’ll see a new icon (layer panel preview circled in red). This indicates that your layer is now a Smart Object.
If you double-click on the preview icon, your image will open again in Camera RAW, with all your previous adjustments in place. You can change those adjustments any way you wish – when you’re finished, click OK and the image will re-open in Photoshop as a Smart Layer once more.
So, you don’t have to dump an image you’ve adjusted in Camera RAW and start over – just use a Smart Object as the Ultimate Adjustment Layer!