Here’s a quick introduction to smart objects in Photoshop.

It’s another clip taken from my upcoming Photoshop 101 Video Course and it shows you the basics of what a smart object is as well as a couple of the main benefits of using one.

Smart objects help us keep to as much of a non destructive workflow as possible because even though we still need to run Photoshop filters on pixel-based layers, by using smart objects we are not doing anything to them which can’t be undone.

Here’s the video – take a look and if you like this one then check out my Photoshop 101 course on




In this Video, we are gonna look at smart objects in Photoshop and just so that we can get to grips with the basics before we move in to some of the more complicated stuff, later on in another video.

Now the first thing to know about the filters and effects that we can create from using them is that we need to use them on a pixel layer. So for example going back to a concept of non-destructive editing, unfortunately this is one of the times where we kind of forced into making changes to a pixel layer. So for example if we wanted to say, blur this layer, we can choose Blur, from the menu, Gaussian Blur here and just click OK. Now that’s applied that blur effect to this layer and there’s no way at the moment for us to undo that or adjust the amount at which we blurred the layer, because we’ve actually edited and made changes to this pixel layer. That’s not a non-destructive edit.

But let me just go back to the history and undo that. So just come back to have a quick look at this filter menu here, you may have noticed there’s an option here convert for SmartFilters. Now what this does, if I select this now we get a pop up here saying – “to enable re-editable Smart Filters, selected layer will be converted into a smart object”.

Smart Filters Menu

Figure – 1: Smart Filter Menu

Now we can do that from this menu option here, say OK. Basically that’s converting this layer into a smart object. You can also do the same thing if I just pressed Command + Z to undo that and do the same thing by right clicking on this layer and saying here “convert to smart object”, and see here that the icon changes over to a folded over thing there in the corner to signify that a small object.

Smart Filters from Layer

Figure – 2: Smart Filter from Layer

Now that we’ve done that, let’s look what happens when we add that Blur to this layer again. So same amount of blur, click OK and rather than applying that Blur effect directly to this layer, what it’s done is kind of split it out into some new goodness over here in the Layers panel. So we got smart filters and that’s kind of like just a way to show the group like if we were to add more filters to this layer, and would have seen the Gaussian Blur there and then like a list of other filters that we’ve added.

For now we just got one, so what this gives us here is actually an eye ball that we can enable and disable the gaussian blur with. So that’s really useful there because it means that we can still edit this layer. So we can turn off the Blur for example and then make some changes to this layer if we need to, and re-enable to Blur and that’s possible because it’s a smart object layer.

Smart Filters List

Figure – 3: Smart Filters List

The other thing that makes this really good is that we can actually double click on this Gaussian Blur now, go back and change the amount of blur that we applied. So if we want to make it more blurry or less blurry we can do that and we don’t have to basically scrap this layer and then redo it, same as we would have to if this wasn’t a smart object.

Alright I hope you enjoyed this short video tutorial. if you like shooting landscapes and you want to learn how to put all these individual tips and techniques that you are learning into a structured six-step photoshop workflow, then click the download button and I’ll send you my free pdf Cheat Sheet that lays everything out for you step by step.