November 30, 2005
Non-destructive raw editing with Smart Objects
Sometimes in the course of development, you find that a feature design can flex to accomodate things you didn’t plan at the start. We devised Smart Objects to enable a new level of Suite integration (letting Illustrator data stay live and editable inside Photoshop (see demo)), to allow non-destructive scaling/rotation/warping of layers, and to enable parent-child relationships (edit one, update many). We knew the design had legs, but we didn’t know if we’d have time to extend it to raw camera data in CS2.
Fortunately Chris Cox and Thomas Knoll were able to make it possible to place a raw file into Photoshop, and the technique is becoming a sleeper hit. When placed as a Smart Object, the raw file is embedded behind the scenes. The upshot is that you retain access to the full complement of raw data (and the Adobe Camera Raw feature set) even while applying adjustment layers, dodging and burning, adding masks, healing dust spots, etc.
Ben Long’s latest article on CreativePro.com covers the technique (“It’s a non-destructive dream!”–nice!). You can also see Russell Brown demonstrate it in this video, and you can download Russell’s scripts that facilitate integration here.
So, the next time you hear someone crowing about non-destructive editing, remember that not only have we been doing this for the last three years with Camera Raw; we’re now taking it to a new level, letting you keep data intact while leveraging the unique power of the Photoshop tool set.