I've scanned in some maps, and I'm regularly adding little touches here and there to each map in Photoshop. Each map has a few Ps layers and is not vector.

For all the annotations, I'm using Illustrator, because it's better for the job with its typography tools.

In Ps, I can drag some graphics/layers in from Ai and it becomes a single 'vector smart object' so whenever I want to edit that graphic, it opens in Ai and updates in Ps when I save.

How do I have the equivalent of this in Illustrator? I have a multilayered graphic which I want to keep opening and editing in Ps but still keep at the exact same size and position in the Ai document (to keep the annotations accurate)?

  • 2
    You can get some of the way with File > Place in Illustrator, but no PSD I've ever placed has maintained the ability to update when the original is updated, unlike other file types (even if it's saved from the same version of PS with "Maximise compatibility" ticked). It's not something I do much though, so I might just have been doing it wrong... Oct 23 '13 at 17:36
  • This actually worked for me! Perfect - thanks so much.
    – Aaron
    Oct 23 '13 at 18:40

File > Place did exactly what I wanted to do! Thanks to the user who commented above - I couldn't mark that as the right answer for some reason.

  • 2
    Cool, did you manage to get it so you could update the placed file when it changed from the Links window? For some reason that's never worked for me with PSDs, for me it always places then forgets the original file and 'Update link' and 'Edit original' are greyed out with PSDs Oct 24 '13 at 9:23
  • I just keep the placed psd open in Ps the whole time, and whenever I edit and save it, then go back to Ai, a popup in Ai says "Some files are modified in the Links panel - would you like to update them now?" When I click yes, it magically updates :D :D :D
    – Aaron
    Oct 24 '13 at 14:53

A similar method of creating "Smart Objects" in AI is by using Symbols.

Say you have an object that you've created. In this case, I made a smiley face.


With entire object selected, open your Symbols Palette and click the New Symbol button.

new symbol

Configure your symbol's options and click Ok.

symbol options

This adds your object to the palette, as a symbol. You can then drag out as many copies of your newly created symbol and transform them as you please.

symbols before

To edit your symbol, double click on its icon in the Symbols Palette and it will behave the same as doing that in PS does with smart objects; you will see that AI opens your symbol in Isolation Mode.

blue eye

You can make whatever changes you want to here. In the case above, I made one eye blue. When finished, you can simply double-click outside your object to exit Isolation Mode. You will see your changes propagated throughout your document.

blue eyes

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