I have this project where I have a bunch of smart objects. All are actually Groups of other smart objects that essentially are vector graphics. The project is fairly low res, and the time has come to upsize the total image.

When I tried to resize the smart objects (the main ones, the Groups of smart objects) it resulted in a pixelated image.

Opening a smart object like that results with the old small canvas. Which is the main reason for the pixelation.

I am trying to figure out a way to cope with a fair number of smart objects nested in each other, instead of going into each smart object and resizing its canvas, realigning the graphics and applying editing... phew! Any sane way out of this?

2 Answers 2


Smart objects are only as good as their initial resolutions.

If you enlarge a smart object beyond it's original size, you fall victim to the same broken pixels you would get if the image was not a smart object.

Whether you tunnel into a smart object and enlarge the original element, or simply enlarge the smart object, you should not enlarge beyond the maximum size of the original image.

I suspect, regardless of what steps you take, you are simply enlarging your image too much to maintain a detailed appearance. However, without fully knowing the original dimensions of Smart Object elements and the new, desired, dimensions this is only a guess.

Smart Objects do not allow a user to make a tiny image huge. Smart Objects only ensure the original dimensions/resolutions are used upon output. This is beneficial for reductions or multiple transformations, but it doesn't create an infinitely enlargable image.

The exceptions to all of the above are live text and vector/shape layers. These can be enlarged well beyond their original sizes and maintain full document resolution.

Edited to add:

If they are vector smart objects you should have no issue enlarging the entire document.

If you need to enlarge just a groups specifically -

  1. right-click/control-click the group
  2. choose Duplicate Group
  3. select "new" from the drop down menu
  4. A new Document will open
  5. Resize that via Image size
  6. Drag the group back to the original document.
  • Oh thanks, but please note that I mentioned these are vector graphics I am trying to size up. I am looking for a way to resize the whole thing, the nested group where the bounds of the smart object is limited and the canvas needs upsizing
    – Ted
    Commented Jul 5, 2012 at 13:18
  • @Ted - Doesn't Image > Image size work? Answer has been edited.
    – Scott
    Commented Jul 5, 2012 at 13:20
  • That's a good idea!
    – Ted
    Commented Jul 5, 2012 at 13:32
  • I think this answer completely misses the point. When a smart object contains a vector graphics it should be scaleable without any loss of quality. It could theoretically, but Photoshop (at least up to CS6) isn't capable of doing this. A smart object is handled like a pixel image with a specific size, regardless if the smart object contains other smart elements (vectors or other smart objects). Resizing the image unfortunately doesn't regain the potential resolution.
    – Stebi
    Commented Sep 19, 2013 at 14:10
  • @Stebi - I disagree. I can scale a vector smart object to any size and retain the detail of the vector image. While it is true that once you commit the transformation Photoshop applies anti-aliasing to the SO, the SO hasn't lost any quality whatsoever. If anti-aliasing is a problem, that's another matter.
    – Scott
    Commented Sep 19, 2013 at 14:59

From what I understand this might help;


But you should be able to resize vectors without any pixels showing up, since they are vectors. I believe you are mistaken there.

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