So… my quest to embed documentation directly into a photoshop file has finally born fruit. I had a breakthrough this morning while looking at something unrelated. TLDR; You can put a full PDF in a smart object. Things like instructions, style guides, exported wiki pages…
Reason being to deliver a single psd to vendors instead of a zip package of files.
By embedding a PDF in a photoshop file as a smart object, you can have self-contained documentation such as instructions, style guides, and lists of URLs. Normally, you can only import single pages from PDF files as rasterized images. This technique allows you to embed the actual pdf itself, with all the benefits that implies.
Adobe Photoshop CC 2018 or higher
Adobe Actobat Pro
Embedding a Multi-Page PDF as a Smart Object
- Open a document in Photoshop CC 2018 or higher.
- “File → Place Embedded” (or drag-n-drop) your PDF into the document.
- In the import dialog, select any page. It doesn’t matter.
- Double-click the thumbnail of the new smart object layer (or “Layer→Smart Objects→ Edit Contents”). This should open it in Adobe Acrobat Pro.
- In Acrobat Pro, find and click the “Tools→ Organize Pages” tab or button.
- Click “Insert → From File…” (or shift-ctrl/cmd-i).
- Find your original PDF you embedded and insert it.
- Select the first page (it should be at the top) and delete it, since it is a duplicate now.
- Save, close, and return to Photoshop.
- Now the photoshop smart object should be updated. Save your photoshop document. Now whenever you open that smart object for edit, you get the full pdf.
Reading And Extracting a PDF Smart Object
Read The PDF
To read the PDF, double-click the thumbnail of the new smart object layer (or “Layer→Smart Objects→ Edit Contents”). This should open it in Adobe Acrobat Pro.
Extract The PDF
To extract the PDF and export it to your hard-drive…
- Select the smart object in the Layers panel.
- “Layers→ Smart Objects → Export Contents…”
Using a Multi-Page PDF in a Creative Cloud Library
Adding PDF to CC Library
- Follow the steps for “Embedding a Multi-Page PDF as a Smart Object” above.
- Create a new layer group and name it something useful.
- Drag your pdf smart object layer into the new group.
- Open the Libraries Panel and select the library you want to add to.
- Drag-n-drop your layer group up into your library. It is important to add the group and not the layer itself or you will only get a single page pdf when you bring it back from the cloud later.
Getting PDF From CC Library
First, open the Libraries Panel and select the library you want to add to.
The Better Way
- Hold Alt/Opt key and drag your library object into your document. This will copy the contents of that object to your Layer Panel instead of creating a cloud-linked smart object.
The Other Way (leaves a nested smart object and is not as convenient)
- Drag-n-drop your library object into your document.
- Select the new smart object in the Layers panel.
- “Layers→ Smart Objects → Embed Linked”