White Space: Smart Objects & Design Hacks

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Have you ever worked tirelessly on a design, only to zoom in and notice it’s suspiciously pixelated?

There’s a fix for that!

Smart objects are layers that protect the data making up your design elements. (Think of a smart object like a safe that protects a piece of your design.)

Smart objects preserve the original data making up your image (or any other design element) so you can preserve quality while you edit.

Smart objects have been around for over 15 years now. They were introduced along with Photoshop CS2 (released back in the good ol’ days of 2005.)

But tools like this haven’t gone out of style, and they won’t anytime soon. So don’t wait to add “smart objects expert” to your resume.

Want to learn more about smart objects? Keep scrolling for the best resources to become a smart objects pro in no time!👇


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Maybe you’re already a smart objects pro… but did you know about these nifty tricks for integrating smart objects into your workflow?

Use smart objects as placeholders when working with stock imagery

Say you’re awaiting a client’s final approval on an image or design that uses stock imagery. Just complete your design using the watermarked image as a smart object, and switch it out for the high-res image after the client has given the go-ahead to purchase it. To switch out the content of your smart object, simply click Edit > Smart Object > Replace Contents. 99designs

Quickly create mockups for repeatable content

When you’re working with a design element that repeats multiple times, simply create the element, convert it to a smart object, and duplicate it as many times as you need to. Boom! Workflow cut in half. Viget

Link smart objects between designs to save time

Linked smart objects accomplish several things: they save you time as a designer (one edit is reflected across all the linked smart objects) and they also help Photoshop operate more efficiently! To link a smart objects layer, simply click Layer > Smart Object > Convert To Linked. Photoshop Better


Just getting started with smart objects? Here are our favorite “how-tos” for learning about smart objects and incorporating them into your designs:

The Potato Analogy

That image above? It’s not just a random potato to get your attention. It’s a screenshot from a video created by Photoshop Cafe, using potatoes and Ziploc bags to illustrate the power of smart objects. If you’re the analogy type (c’mon, who isn’t?) this video is the perfect way to get a grip on the power of smart objects. Photoshop Cafe

Back to the Basics

For those of you who like the original, traditional, and straightforward, the Adobe Help Center keeps it real. They offer a step-by-step guide teaching you how to create, export, and transform smart objects; PLUS how to link them together (a newer Photoshop feature!) Adobe Help

The basics, but video

Want a no-fluff visual showcase of smart objects (or any other Photoshop technique, for that matter?) Steve Patterson from Photoshop Essentials breaks down every Photoshop concept imaginable on his Youtube channel. Photoshop Essentials

The Hot Pick

If you’re looking for an in-depth, detailed video, check out the PiXimperfect channel (a top favorite in our Facebook group.) This channel offers 30-40 minute walkthroughs of smart object concepts like linking, rasterizing, layering, masking, and more. PiXimperfect

The Pro Tips

If you like geeking out over the details, check out Yes I’m a Designer’s take on the 5 top tips for incorporating smart objects into your design workflow. Yes I’m a Designer

The Affinity Compatibility

Maybe you’re not a Photoshop user… no worries! Affinity Photo and a few other softwares also support smart objects. For those of you who are partial to Affinity Photo, Olivio Sarikas does a fantastic job breaking down smart objects in Affinity Photo on his Youtube channel. Olivio Sarikas


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There’s nothing worse than creating a great wireframe and immediately getting rejected because your non-designer client can’t visualize it as a live design.

Marvel is a quick prototyping tool that allows you to send interactive wireframes to your clients or collaborators.

Marvel is user-friendly, so you don’t have to worry about explaining every technical detail to a non-technical person. They can “experience” the prototype as if it were a live, completed project.

A few features that make Marvel great:

  • Integrate with Sketch to seamlessly show off your design in a user-friendly environment
  • Completely online: no software needed
  • Test your design easily: every click, tap, and comment can be tracked with Marvel
  • Simple sharing: all you need is a quick link (perfect for clients who don’t have a design background)

We’re not affiliated with Marvel; we just think it’s a cool platform. Learn more here.


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Ever feel like you’re getting lost in a sea of designers (with the lowest bidders normally winning out)?

If you’re running your own business, design is only one of the skills you should master.

Most successful business owners have pushed beyond their comfort zones to embody one powerful skill:

Think like a salesperson.

So here’s a hot tip from the sales world that will set you apart in any future client’s inbox:

You can use a tool like Loom or BombBomb to create a quick personalized video “selling” yourself and your services to potential clients.

It’s pretty simple:

  1. Do your research. Only send this type of pitch to a client you want to work with who needs your product or service.
  2. Create a simple slide presentation specifically for the client. (Pro tip: use the client’s brand colors and fonts to really stand out!)
  3. Share your presentation in a 1-2 minute video. Make sure to explain your offer and what you can do specifically for the client.
  4. Name the video something that catches the eye. Hi, [FirstName] works well if you can get the name of the person you’re pitching to! Otherwise, just make sure to mention the company in the video name.
  5. Craft your email. Make a simple pitch with a booking link the client can click to chat with you. Embed your video in the email so it’s the first thing the client sees!
  6. Now, all that’s left to do is hit “Send”! If possible, find specific email addresses (like someone on the marketing team, or even the CEO if it’s a smaller company).

Want to become the most in-demand freelance designer in town? Here’s a quick guide on how to use video as a freelancer.


FB loses a top female exec… Instacart gains her as CEO

Instacart poached Fidgi Simo (left) from her position as head of the Facebook app. She officially began her role as Chief Executive Officer of Instacart on August 2nd, while current CEO Apoorva Mehta (right) is transitioning to executive chairman.

Simo’s been serving on Instacart’s board of directors since January when Mehta personally recruited her. We’re sure she’ll do a great job as she heads one of the top grocery delivery companies around today! 👏 Adweek

Oldest and youngest person in space… at the same time?

With space flights becoming the norm, we’d better get accustomed to space news… but what’s the latest? An 18-year-old became the world’s youngest astronaut as he embarked into space with Jeff Bezos.

But that’s not even the kicker… Oliver Daemen got to join Bezos because an anonymous auction winner (who paid $28M for his ticket) backed out due to a scheduling conflict.

Come on, who misses a trip to space because something else got in the way? 🤯 Regardless, we’re happy for the kid. Oliver made history as the youngest person in space as well as the first paying customer to travel outside the Earth’s atmosphere.

Bezos was also accompanied by pilot Wally Funk, who at 82 years old has set the record for being the oldest person in space. Way to make history! USA Today


Back when Nike was still called Blue Ribbon Sports, a graphic design student at Portland State University designed the iconic swoosh logo… for $35!

The year was 1971, and Phil Knight heard Carolyn Davidson was looking to make a bit of extra money. So he offered her this one-of-a-kind design gig.

But don’t worry: Carolyn eventually got the credit she deserved! In 1983, one year after Nike went public, the company executives surprised Davidson with a party — including a gift of an undisclosed amount of shares of Nike stock (worth $1M if the rumors are accurate.) Printworks

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