I've been learning GIMP as an alternative to Photoshop, which I haven't been using for design purposes for more than 5 years now. I discovered that there is a new interesting thing called the smart object in Photoshop. In GIMP, I haven't been able to figure out how to create that smart object.

What is the closest thing to Photoshop's smart object in GIMP?

  • 1
    There really isn't anything like smart objects in The GIMP. That's pretty much an Adobe invention.
    – DA01
    Commented Dec 24, 2014 at 18:50

2 Answers 2


I think that the closest are layers with different layer modes and layer masks, possibly combined with a clever layer tree structure. In the future, GIMP will probably allow much more non-destructive editing when GEGL will be used in more areas.


If I undersdand it, the closest thing would be "not have it", or, have the original element in a "backup layer" (just a layer that you leave there and don't mess with it, nothing fancy), so, if you've made a destructive operation with the "dumb object", and it would be troublesome to restore it, you can always recover the original and do whatever. But if such smart objects can maintain "filters" and such things, that's simply no other way to emulate it other than redoing whatever you've done again. It's more a matter of having a certain (harder) workflow than a feature set approximation. :-/

I think Inkscape's objects are somewhat naturally "smarter" in this sense, since they're vectorial to begin with, and can be non-destructively edited but preserving effects/filters. It certainly won't be exactly the same with raster images you may use on it.

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