Photoshop: Layer Clones (aka Smart Objects)

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  • Idea
  • Updated 8 years ago
  • Implemented
  • (Edited)
Let's say I'm working on the User Interface - a menu with loads of buttons... something like Photoshops Tool Panel.

Imagine I have created one background for all of the buttons, so I have duplicated all the layer groups for each of the button.
Now as it turned out it doesn't work well I want to change something in the background. I'd have to change it in each of the Groups or delete them and copy the corrected group once again.

It would be great help if I could have "Cloned Layers" or something like that, so whenever I cange the "source" of "cloned layer" all the clones changes accordingly...
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Zeeto VGS

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Posted 8 years ago

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christoph pfaffenbichler, Champion

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Have you missed »Smart Objects«?
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christoph pfaffenbichler, Champion

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To quote from the Help:
»With Smart Objects, you can:
•Perform nondestructive transforms. You can scale, rotate, skew, distort, perspective transform, or warp a layer without losing original image data or quality because the transforms don’t affect the original data.
•Work with vector data, such as vector artwork from Illustrator, that otherwise would be rasterized in Photoshop.
•Perform nondestructive filtering. You can edit filters applied to Smart Objects at any time.
•Edit one Smart Object and automatically update all its linked instances.
•Apply a layer mask that’s either linked or unlinked to the Smart Object layer.
•Try various designs with low-resolution placeholder images that you later replace with final versions.«
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Zeeto VGS

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It looks like... - yes I did miss the Smart Objects indeed.

Thx Christoph
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Zeeto VGS

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Sorry to bringing this up yet again, but well after thinking this trough the Smart Objects is not exactly what my idea was.

For better picture what I have in mind, please imagine that you are using Photoshop for designing alloys.
The idea is to have a live view af all the arms while editing just one.
I can imagine this working by creating the "Mirror Layers" from one regular layer.
Transforming the "Mirror Layers" (moving them around, rotating, even scaling) and while editing the original layer the effect of the work could be visible on all mirrored layers instantly...

For this kind of purpose, it woud be more confortable than Smart Objects as one would have to have either 2 monitors or work with small viewing area plus save the source of Smart Object after every edit..
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Chris Cox

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You can't have instant updates without all sort of other problems cropping up.

Smart Objects need a point where the user chooses to update the contents -- and that point is when saving the child object.

Smart Objects do solve the problem you suggest, just not exactly in the way you thought it would work (because you didn't consider all the problems that would happen with your proposed solution).
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Zeeto VGS

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Fair enough, thx Chris
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Photoshop FAQ, Official Rep

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Dear Adobe Gripes #3575 & #16636

"How about having the possiblity of having instances of an layer/object in
photoshop? change one layer - change n layers.. you know?"

"Please introduce instanced layers. When I copy one layer as an instance,
anything I do with the original layer should also happen to it's instance,
and vice versa. Just as in 3d software packages"
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Jeffrey Tranberry, Sr. Product Manager, Digital Imaging

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Official Response
This is what Smart Objects were designed to do.

More details on Smart Objects here:

Nondestructive editing/About Smart Objects

Video tutorials on Adobe TV