Learn how to scale and resize images without losing quality in Photoshop using Smart Objects!
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In this video, you’ll learn the difference between resizing a normal pixel image and resizing a Smart Object, and why Smart Objects always look better!
To see the advantage of resizing an image as a Smart Object, we start by setting up a side-by-side comparison between a normal, pixel-based image and a Smart Object (0:27). Then we resize both versions of the image, first by scaling them down (3:16) and then scaling them back up (5:14) and we compare the results. We look at why Smart Objects are able to resize images without losing quality (8:45), and we finish off by upscaling both versions of the image back to their original size (9:59). At the end, I share an important tip for making sure you’re always getting the best results (11:52).
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hey everyone Steve Patterson here from photoshop essentials comm in this video I'll show you how to scale and resize images without losing quality using smart objects in Photoshop we'll learn the difference between resizing and normal pixel-based image and resizing a smart object and we'll learn why Smart Objects always look better I'll also include a tip at the end to help make sure you're always getting the best results I'll be using Photoshop CC but any recent version will work well let's get started to see the advantage of resizing an image as a smart object once quickly set up our document so we can view a side-by-side comparison between resizing a normal image and resizing a smart object I'll use this image that I downloaded from Adobe stock if we look in the layers panel we see the image on the background layer we need to make two copies of the image one for the normal pixel version and one for the smart object to make the first copy go up to the layer menu in the menu bar choose new and then choose layer via copy in the layers panel a copy of the image appears above the original to make the second copy I'll use the keyboard shortcut this time which is ctrl J on a Windows PC or command J on a Mac a second copy appears above the others let's rename our copies so we know which is which double click on the top layers name layer 1 copy and rename it smart object press Enter or return on a Mac to accept it then double click on the name layer one below it and rename it pixels again press Enter or return on a Mac we don't need the image on the background layer anymore so let's fill the background with white click on the background layer to select it then go up to the Edit menu and choose fill in the fill dialog box set the contents option to white and then click OK and if we look at the background layers thumbnail we see that the layer is now filled with white to fit both versions of the image side-by-side we need to add more canvas space go up to the image menu and choose canvas size in the canvas size dialog box set the width to 200 percent and the height to 100 percent leave the relative option unchecked and in the anchor grid choose the square in the middle left this will place all of the extra space to the right of the image click OK to close the dialog box to move one of the images into the new space select the move tool from the toolbar in the layers panel click on the smart object layer at the top to select it then click on the image and drag it into the new space on the right we now have the image that will remain a pixel-based image on the left and the image that will convert to a smart object on the right finally to convert the image on the right into a smart object make sure the smart object layer is selected in the layers panel click the menu icon in the top right corner of the layers panel and then choose convert to smart object from the list Photoshop converts the layer to a smart object and the smart object icon appears in the layers thumbnail now that we have our document setup let's see what happens when we resize a normal pixel-based layer and compare it with what happens when we resize a smart object we'll scale both versions down to make them smaller and then we'll enlarge them and compare the results we'll start with the pixel version on the Left I'll click on the pixels layer to select it to scale the image and make it smaller I'll select photoshop's free transform command by going up to the Edit menu and choosing free transform this places the free transform box and handles around the image let's scale the width and height of the image down to just 10% of the original size we could resize it by pressing and holding our shift key and dragging any of the corner handles but since we know the exact size we need it's easier to just enter it in the options bar first make sure the width and height options are linked together by clicking the link icon between them then change the width value to 10% since the width and height are linked together the height value changes to 10% automatically press Enter or return to accept the new values and then press Enter or return again to close out of free transform and here we see that the pixel version on the left is now much smaller let's do the same thing with the smart object on the right I'll click on the smart object in the layers panel to select it then I'll go back up to the Edit menu and I'll choose free transform this time the free transform handles appear around the smart object on the right in the options bar I'll link the width and height fields together and then I'll change the width value to 10% the height value changes along with it I'll press Enter or return to accept the new values and then I'll press Enter or return again to close out of free transform both versions of the image are now scaled down to the same size and at this size they both look exactly the same but now that we've made the images smaller let's see what happens if we try making them larger we'll start again with the pixel version on the Left I'll click on the pixels layer in the layers panel to select it then I'll go back to the Edit menu and I'll choose free transform free transform handles again appear around the pixel version but notice the width and height values in the options bar even though we scaled the width and height down to 10% Photoshop is telling us that the image is somehow back to being 100 percent of its original size the reason is that when we scaled the pixel version and made it smaller Photoshop made it smaller by throwing pixels away in this case it took 90 percent of the pixels from the width and 90 percent of the pixels from the height and just deleted them this means we're down to just one out of every 100 pixels that we had before we're just one percent of the original image so when Photoshop is telling us now that the width and height are back to 100% it's not saying we're back to 100% of the original size it's saying were at 100% of the new size meaning whatever pixels are left after we scaled it down let's see what happens if we scale the image back up we'll start by scaling the width and height from 10% up to 50% of the original size to do that I need to increase both the width and height from 100% to 500% I'll press Enter or return on a Mac to accept the new values but before I close out of free transform we can already see what's happening instead of adding new detail to the image Photoshop is just taking the pixels from the smaller version and making them bigger so much bigger in fact that the pixels are now very obvious I'll press Enter or return again to close out of free transform at this point Photoshop tries to clean up the image and blend the pixels together but the result looks very soft and blurry it's not something you would want to use let's compare that to what happens when we upscale the smart object I'll select the smart object in the layers panel then I'll go back once again to the Edit menu and I'll choose free transform this time the free transform handles appear around the smart object on the right if we look in the options bar we can already see a difference between the pixel version of the image and the smart object with the pixel version Photoshop reset the width and height values to 100% after we resized it but the smart object is still showing a width and height of just 10% unlike the pixel version Photoshop still remembers the original size of the smart object and it knows that we're currently viewing it at something other than its original size I'll upscale the width and height from 10% to 50% but rather than having to enter 500% like I did with the pixel version the smart object makes it much easier I can just set both values to 50% I'll press Enter or return to accept the new values and before I close out of free transform we again see a difference between the pixel version and the smart object to upscale the image on the Left Photoshop just took the remaining pixels from the smaller version and made them bigger resulting in a very blocky image but the smart object on the right looks much better in fact it looks just as good as the original only smaller I'll press Enter or return again to close out of free transform and this time Photoshop doesn't need to do anything to clean up the image because the smart object already looks great so why does the smart object look so much better than the pixel version it's because of how smart objects work a smart object is just a container that holds something inside it in this case it's holding our image when we scale a smart object to make it bigger or smaller it's the size of the container that we're changing not what's inside it if we make the container smaller the image inside it looks smaller and if we make the container bigger the image inside it that looks bigger but it's always the container the smart object that we're affecting not its contents in fact we can open a smart object and view its contents just by double-clicking on the smart objects thumbnail in the layers panel the contents of the smart object open in a separate document and here we see the original image even though we've already scaled the width and height of the smart object twice first down to 10% and then back up to 50% the image inside it remains and its original size with no loss in quality no matter how many times we resize a smart object it has no effect on the image inside it which is why the smart object always looks great to close the smart object go up to the file menu and choose close and now we're back to the main document finally let's finish off by seeing what happens when we upscale both versions of the image back to their original size I'll start with the pixel version on the left by selecting it in the layers panel then I'll go back to the Edit menu and I'll choose free transform the free transform handles appear around the pixel version on the left and in the options bar Photoshop has once again reset its width and height back to 100% since we know they're both actually at 50% of the original size I need to double their size by setting both values to 200% I'll press Enter or return once to accept the new values and then again to close out of free transform and here's what the pixel version looks like after scaling the width and height first down to 10% then up to 50% and now back to 100% as we can see the result is looking very soft and much of the original detail is missing next I'll click on the smart object in the layers panel to select it then I'll go back one last time to the Edit menu and I'll choose free transform the free transform handles appear around the smart object on the right but in the options bar notice that again Photoshop still remembers that we're viewing the smart object with its width and height set to just 50% to restore the original size of the smart object all I need to do is change the width and height from 50% to 100% I'll press Enter or return once to accept the changes and then again to close out of free transform and here's the result while the pixel version on the left has clearly lost image quality the smart object on the right looks good as new again it's because we've been resizing the smart object itself not its contents so the image inside it has always remained at its original size one last thing to keep in mind is that while Smart Objects clearly have an advantage over pixel-based images when scaling and resizing them the advantage only applies as long as you keep the smart object at or smaller than its original size there's no advantage when trying to scale a smart object larger than its original size by going beyond 100% you're asking Photoshop to create detail that isn't there just like with a pixel-based image and the result will be the same whether it's a smart object or not Photoshop will just take the original pixels and make them bigger and the result won't look as good so to benefit from smart objects make sure you don't go beyond the original size of your image and there we have it that's how to scale and resize images without losing quality using smart objects in Photoshop as always I hope you enjoyed this video and if you did please consider liking it sharing it and subscribing to our channel visit our website photoshop essentials comm for more tutorials thanks for watching and I'll see you next time I'm Steve Patterson from photoshop essentials comm