In Photoshop, you can add any layer as a Smart Object (or convert an existing layer). This makes the layer nondestructive in that you can filter it, size it, crop it and more without ever destroying any of the existing pixels.
Here’s how to make a Smart Object:
- Use the File > Place Command
- Click the Open Object button in Camera Raw
- Right-click on one or more layers and choose Convert to Smart Object
- Choose Filter > Convert for Smart Filters.
What can you do to a Smart Object? Photoshop gives you near total control over Smart Objects.
- All the features of the Free Transform command (including the ability to warp an image) are there.
- You can add Layer Styles to a Smart Object layer.
- Layer masks also are linked to Smart Objects. This means that you can enjoy both the flexibility of scaling to the original size (or larger, if vector) and nondestructive image transparency.
- You can apply most filters nondestructively with Smart Filters.
This is a great way to get flexible editing inside Photoshop.