What's new
Photoshop Gurus Forum

Welcome to Photoshop Gurus forum. Register a free account today to become a member! It's completely free. Once signed in, you'll enjoy an ad-free experience and be able to participate on this site by adding your own topics and posts, as well as connect with other members through your own private inbox!

Collage problem - Smart Object VS Transform degradation


New Member
Hello all,
I am trying to make a collage of about 15 images on an A3 sized sheet. Many of the images will need to be resized, cropped, and sometimes masked with gradient transparencies... sounds easy but...

I dragged the pix to the A3 Photoshop document, and each had to be double clicked as each gets placed with the transform tool active. Odd, but ok.
The problem is I found I could not select an area of any photos to delete the rest, it said Smart Objects are not directly editable. (also odd)
So I read up about importing images in a Stack, and they arrive as layers instead of Smart Objects. These can be transformed and cropped, masked and everything I need, BUT transforming them down apparently resamples them for some reason, so you loose a lot of quality.

So what to do? It seems this very basic need is actually fraught with gotchas... caught between a rock and a hard place... or is there a third way of doing this simple collage?

Thanks, phptravels


Staff member
Hello and welcome to PSG.

The absolute best way would be to use the Smart Objects. If you want to mask an area (never ever delete), just double click the Smart Objects thumbnail and it will open in a .psb or .jpg file. Perform your masking then save. You can then close the file. All of the changes you made will be reflected in the original .psd document. You can edit the smart object as many time as you wish as long as you don't use destructive editing. This is not a gotcha...............this is the whole concept of smart objects!

Edit: You can still use the free transform function on a smart object in the original .psd document without losing quality.
Last edited:


Totally agree with @IamSam (particularly the bit about using non-destructive techniques).

Just in case you don't know (and sorry if you do :) ) make your selection as you have been doing and then instead of selecting delete just click on the layer mask icon at the bottom of the layers panel. This is what @IamSam was referring to. You might need to invert your selection first which you can do by Ctrl+Shift+i - or CMD+Shift+i on the Mac. This will achieve exactly the same result as deleting but will be editable if necessary.