How to fix “Smart Object Must be Rasterized First” in Photoshop & Photopea

If you’re new to Pho­to­shop or Pho­to­pea, you might be per­plexed by one of the fol­low­ing errors: “smart object must be ras­ter­ized first”, “smart object must be ras­ter­ized,” or “this smart object must be ras­ter­ized before pro­ceed­ing.” Regard­less of the exact word­ing of the error, they all mean the same thing.

See below to learn why this com­mon error occurs and how to ras­ter­ize Smart Objects to fix the prob­lem and get back to editing.

What are Smart Objects?

Smart Objects main­tain an image’s orig­i­nal con­tent togeth­er with its orig­i­nal attrib­ut­es, help­ing you to per­form non­de­struc­tive edit­ing into the layer.

In Pho­to­shop, it is pos­si­ble to embed the con­tents of a pic­ture into a Pho­to­shop doc­u­ment. In Pho­to­shop, you may even make Linked Smart Objects whose con­tents have been ref­er­enced from out­side image files.

Con­nect­ed Smart Objects are dif­fer­ent from repli­cat­ed exam­ples of a Smart Object inside a Pho­to­shop doc­u­ment. With Con­nect­ed Smart Objects, you may use a shared resource file over mul­ti­ple Pho­to­shop files that’s a com­fort­able and wel­come notion for designers.

How to fix the “smart object must be rasterized” error in Photoshop

Click “Ok” to clear the smart object error.

In Pho­to­shop you can­not direct­ly edit a smart object. This includes paint­ing, dodg­ing, burn­ing, or grind­ing –straight to a Smart Object lay­er, unless it’s first con­vert­ed into a stan­dard lay­er, which is ras­ter­ized. To exe­cute oper­a­tions which change pix­el infor­ma­tion, it is pos­si­ble to edit the con­tents of a Smart Object, repli­cate a new lay­er over the Smart Object lay­er, edit copies of the Smart Object, or make a new layer.

You can sim­ply Click “Ok” to ras­ter­ize the lay­er and clear the error. You can also ras­ter­ize the lay­er yourself:

  1. Press “F7” to show the Pho­to­shop Lay­ers panel
  2. Select a vec­tor lay­er in the Lay­ers panel
  3. Click “Lay­er” in the menu bar and click “Ras­ter­ize”
  4. Choose “Lay­er” to ras­ter­ize the layer.

Being “Ras­ter­ized” means that it becomes an editable col­lec­tion of pixels.

How to fix the “smart object must be rasterized first” error in Photopea

You can also expe­ri­ence a sim­i­lar mis­take in the Pho­to­shop alter­na­tive Pho­to­pea. This per­mits you to do things such as non-destruc­tive­ly change it (you may change it sev­er­al times and it will not degrade) and employ intel­li­gent fil­ters. Usu­al­ly this is a good thing.

It’s pos­si­ble to con­vert any lay­er (or a few lay­ers) into a Smart Object by choos­ing them and click — Con­vert to Smart Object. Select­ed lay­ers will be removed and insert­ed into a new PSD doc­u­ment, which will be the ori­gin of a brand new Smart Object, that’ll be added into the file.

Differences between Photoshop versions

Note that there are some dif­fer­ences in this error between Pho­to­shop ver­sions. In Pho­to­shop CC 2019 and old­er hav­ing a smart object lay­er select­ed in the lay­ers pan­el and click­ing on the doc­u­ment area with a tool such as the Brush Tool would intro­duce a dia­log say­ing the intel­li­gent thing needs to be ras­ter­ized and offer­ing an Ok but­ton to do so.

In Pho­to­shop 2020 the same just intro­duces a dia­log say­ing the smart thing isn’t direct­ly editable and gives no expla­na­tion as to why or how to proceed.

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