I'm trying to figure out why Photoshop is making my linked object blurry after I reduce the size of the object. The object looks fine after I import the link, and after I shrink the object. It only distorts after I click the check on the top bar to apply the transformation. I'm shrinking the object to 12.5% of its original size.

How do I maintain a crisp linked object?

Using Photoshop version 19.1.6

Pre apply transformenter image description here

Post apply transformenter image description here

Edit I've added another screenshot blow with a red dot that represents 1 pixel. The red dot is in the parent sprite sheet, not the linked object. Before applying the transformation, the scaled down object appears as I would expect after applying. Is it possible for Photoshop to apply the transform as it appears before the transform?

enter image description here

2 Answers 2


Hi BenR and welcome to GDSE.

This behavior is expected.

Before you apply the transformation, your linked object is rendered using the full resolution of your screen and temporarily scaled using nearest neighbor interpolation.

When you press Apply, Photoshop will scale the placed object using bicubic interpolation.

You are scaling to a pretty small size and there aren't enough pixels in your Photoshop document to maintain the crispness of the original. The pixels of the original doesn't fit the grid of the pixels in your Photoshop document.

Therefore Photoshop will add anti-aliasing (what you call blur) in an attempt to maintain the appearance of the original at such a small size.

If you want to scale the placed object so 1 (apparent) pixel of the placed object takes up 1 pixel in the document, you need to find out exactly which scaling to apply to achieve this.

For example, if 1 pixels in the placed object in reality consist of 5 pixels, you can only scale it to 100 / 5 = 20%.

  • Thank you for the great description of what is happening. I've edited the post to show 1 px matches the pixels from the scaled down image. Is it not possible for Photoshop to apply the transform as it appears before application?
    – BenR
    Sep 27, 2018 at 20:31
  • It isn't necessarily possible because, as mentioned, it's only a preview. In your case it seems that the pixel sizes match, so it should be possible. But you need to position the placed object so it fits the pixel grid of the document. Try for example to move it to the upper left corner of the document and choose the upper left anchor point before scaling.
    – Wolff
    Sep 27, 2018 at 20:43
  • The white space around the figure must follow the same grid as the figure for this to work. (This is not an easy way to work in Photoshop)
    – Wolff
    Sep 27, 2018 at 20:56

For transforming smart objects Photoshop uses a default image interpolation filter. If you want your smart object to look the same as before applying, you can temporary set filter to Nearest Neighbour:

enter image description here

  • How could I overlook this?! My explanation combined with your method would be the perfect answer.
    – Wolff
    Sep 28, 2018 at 15:15
  • Oh there're so many things to overlook in this! To be frank, it's still confusing to me why when transforming normal layers there's an interpolation dropdown, but to set the interpolation for SO you'll have to go to app preferences. And also if you resize document, SO will respect not the selected interpolation, but once again the one in the preferences Sep 28, 2018 at 18:19

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