One operation that is used a lot in Photoshop, especially for photo compositors or matt painters is the Place command. A while ago in an update to Photoshop CC, this command was split into two. Splitting the Place command into two, now enables Photoshop to either Embed an asset (the old way), or to Link to an asset (new way). This post will show the difference of these two features, so you can adopt into your workflow if needed.
Let us take this Photoshop canvas. It’s a standard 10inch by 8inch canvas, totalling at 41.2mb:
For the exercise, i’m going to first embed a 144mb file into it, then link to the output PSD file and see what the file sizes are for each.
To embed the document into this canvas, just choose File / Place Embed and select the file.
Once the file is embedded, the layer will look like the one marked in red below, note the symbol on the thumbnail (showing that it’s embedded). To be clear, the embedded document is now part of the document and will increase the file size by the size of the embedded document.
If, on the other hand, within the same empty canvas as above, we choose Place Linked and choose the same file.
The symbol on the layer (marked in red) becomes a chain, which is denoting the link to the file (not embedded). The file size in this case will only contain the resulting pixels, not the original file.
Below shows the difference in file sizes of the two new PSD’s.
The benefit of the Linked file approach, is that it will create a vastly reduced final PSD file. Therefore, Photoshop should perform more efficiently as it’s using much less memory.
Of course the only issue is when you would like to distribute the files to someone else. The embedded file will contain the referenced file, where the Linked file will not. For the Linked file, Photoshop will show the rasterised version of it, but it won’t be available for edit. If you would like the other person to edit the linked file, then you can choose to ‘Package’ the file from within Photoshop CC.
If ‘Package’ is not available on your system, it’s most likely because this new composite is not saved, so complete a save on this document, then choose Package.
Choosing Package will ask for a location. Photoshop will then create a folder structure and package the links, as well as the Photoshop document (as shown below).
Linked files are defiantly a great improvement in many ways, benefits include, reducing the number of files within a PSD document, improving performance of Photoshop, sending a file to another Creative (both for editing and a non editable approach).