I’m pretty clueless about Photoshop’s Smart layers. What are they good for? Aaron Wallis, England
Answer Alix replies
When incorporating repeating designs and patterns into an illustration, few tools will be as useful or as powerful as Smart layers. Smart layers enable you to create a separate layered PSD that can be embedded into your original PSD, enabling you to create a large-scale design element that can be resized without losing fidelity.
Copied Smart layers function as Instances: when you update one of them it populates the changes through all of them at once. They can also be warped and transformed like a standard layer while still maintaining their ability to be modified in their original format, and they save transform information such as the scaling and rotation for more precise measurements for future tweaks. In short, they’re an incredibly valuable tool for many aspects of design.
In my example, I use an almost completed design in Photoshop as a base to add some design flair. In this case, I’ll be using Smart layers to create a repeating spoked design around the figure’s head to frame her and add some additional visual interest and texture.
Before applying line work textures and repeating patterns, the piece has a few areas where visual flow would be improved with additional detailing.