I have a project that involves going back and forth between Photoshop and Illustrator. Essentially, in Photoshop I'm creating a base raster layer, and then in Illustrator I have a few layers on top of text and other vectors. Sometimes what I do with the vectors changes how the raster layer should look, so I go back into Photoshop to manage it.
Ideally, I'd like to be able to have a way to be able to automatically or batch save layer groups in Illustrator so that when I open Photoshop they appear as smart objects.
Is this possible?
Not that I know, since "groups" are not consistent and persistent across both programs. It's all just handled via simple ID systems and basic references and any of that can break down at the slightest structural change like adding or removing a layer/ object plus smart objects have their own rules. If it can be done, it sure is going to be a lot of work...
Which version of Illustrator are you using?
There are (limited) ways to transfer Illustrator layers into Photoshop and retain (some of) the original layer structure.
If and how good it may work severely depends on how the Illustrator file is built.
Can you share a sample Illustrator file (.ai)?
I'm using the the latest Illustrator available in the Creative Cloud subscription.
I don't actually need any layer structure preserved. If the layer group displayed as a PNG file in its own layer when viewed in Photoshop, or something like that. then that would suit my purposes. I only need to see where various Illustrator vectors are positioned, I don't need to reimport them or keep them editable.
It may be possible.
As already mentioned, providing a sample Illustrator file would be useful.
Providing a solution to my own question.
Layer groups in Illustrator aren't really like groups in Photoshop, and there is no way to link them.
However, I have found that it is possible to use asset exports to get a similar effect. An Illustrator group can be added to the asset exports, where they can be named and saved as PNG files in a folder. Then Photoshop can be set to import them and update them as a smart object.
However, the only problem with this approach is that if you add a new vector in an Illustrator layer group, you have to re-create the asset. If you move, modify, or delete existing items, then the associated asset will export fine. But any new items added will not be included unless explicitly made to do so.
Despite the limitations, this is sufficient for my situation where I just need to see the rough placement of Illustrator objects in order to coordinate them with my Photoshop components.