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I know people prefer using CorelDraw or Adobe Illustrator, but I want to know if there is a technique I can follow to use Adobe Photoshop CS6 to make vector Images.

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6 Answers 6

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TL;DR: Photoshop can not create true vector images. This is a very common misconception.

Think of it like a car. -- Can you go 4-wheeling with a Toyota Prius? Sure you can! Is it going to do all the things a Jeep Wrangler can do? Heck no. There's a reason you need to use a 4-wheel drive vehicle to go 4-wheeling, just as there's a reason you need to use a vector application to create vector files.

Regardless of how you create a file and save it, Photoshop always saves both vector and raster information. This is unlike any true vector application.

You can't create vector files with Photoshop. You can only create raster files with vector containers/edges. This means you may have a vector square and its edges will remain sharp and crisp, however if that square has a gradient fill. That gradient fill is raster entirely and it will suffer upon some scaling.

Applications such as Illustrator, Corel, Xara, actually can contain only 100% resolution independent vector data. It's not a matter of "people preferring" to use a vector application. It's required if you want a true vector format in the end.

This is not to say that the vector tools within Photoshop are overall inferior, they are not. Yes you can draw with the vector tools in Photoshop and create vector content. But in order to get the real benefit of that vector content in Photoshop, you have to use Photoshop for all future alterations. When you enlarge or transform a vector container within Photoshop, Photoshop interpolates the interior raster data to suit the transformation. That interpolation does not happen outside of Photoshop. So, after exporting/saving you can scale something like a Photoshop EPS, the vector edges will scale and remain crisp because they are vector, but the interpolation of the raster data does not happen outside of Photoshop. So "broken pixels" are entirely possible with a Photoshop EPS even though you used vector tools. This issue arises when you save the file or export it. In all vector-capable formats - PDF, EPS, PSD - Photoshop creates a raster file with embedded vector data. Photoshop does not create a vector file. This is **entirely unlike* actual vector-based applications.

For production purposes, this difference may be largely unimportant if you are already working at a high ppi in Photoshop. But a user should be aware that simply using Photoshop's vector tools and saving as an EPS/PDF does not create vector files using any currently available version of Photoshop (as of this writing CC2014 is the most recent).

I realize some users desperately want Photoshop to create vector files because that means they don't need to learn a new application to generate a new file format. However, there's no way around it. If you want actual vector files, you must use an actual vector application. Photoshop is and always has been a raster application, hence "photo" in its name.

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You CAN really draw vector graphics in Photoshop. For example, I usually export vector from PS to Flash. Therefore, you can create true vector images. –  Dani Mar 21 '14 at 17:45
@Dani Yes you can draw using vectors in Photoshop. But you can not save (or export) a true vector file from Photoshop. Have you checked those exports? Much like exporting to Illustrator - they are vector containers with raster fills. That's not a true vector file. The best you can do is draw vectors in Photoshop, then export the paths and use some other true vector application to add fills and strokes. I understand people really want Photoshop to create vector files, but the truth is that Photoshop simply does not. –  Scott Mar 21 '14 at 18:24
In addition, the mere fact you need to use Flash is further evidence that Photoshop is insufficient for creating real vector files. –  Scott Mar 21 '14 at 18:27
What do you understand as true vector file? –  Dani Mar 24 '14 at 17:03
No raster content. Most often users desperate to use Photoshop for vector file are trying to sell vector files at micro-stock sites. And much like those sites, I don't see a file containing a bunch of vector containers with raster image fills as being true vector. Scaling a file with vector containers and raster fills, will break the pixels in the raster fills - that's not vector. Note: I'm not saying you can't create files with Photoshop. Vector containers with raster fills are fine for most production. But they aren't true vector. –  Scott Mar 24 '14 at 17:04

Chippin' in, in case anyone still wants to create vector elements in Photoshop (to use with raster images, for example, or for any other situation).

The tool Photoshop has that allows you to work with vector graphics, is the Pen Tool. The basic operation of the Pen Tool involves clicking around the Photoshop canvas to make points appear. These points will be connected by lines and start to create a shape.

Compared to other programs (like Illustrator), it's the things you can do WITH the shapes once you have them drawn what is somehow lacking. Photoshop will let you draw, modify nodes and play with combining, intersecting or substracting them, but it won't let you do more complex operations.

The Adobe Forums have a very complete guide on how to get started with the Pen Tool.

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You CAN export the paths you create to an Illustrator file, but the basic view is Photoshop was created for raster images and Illustrator was created for vector images. CorelDraw does both in one program, but the trade off is it does neither as good as Adobe, imo.

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I think this thread needs a summary, otherwise readers may leave still confused. Most readers will not care if the results are "true eps" or "true vector files", they just want to get something done. However, they should be aware of the limits and constraints on certain techniques. Here are the key concepts given in the answers:

  1. Photoshop is a pixel (raster) based image processing tool that has some vector capabilities. It was originally designed to manipulate and save pixel based images (for example, digital photographs), but it has matured into a much more flexible tool.

  2. Illustrator is a vector based image processing tool that has some rasterization capabilities. Vector based images do not store pixel information, it stores the image as data that will be interpreted by a vector-based image drawing program.

  3. Both types of image files require a computer program to prepare the file data for display or print, but ultimately the printer or computer requires the image to be in pixel format. As a result, vector based files require more processing. The main trade-off between vector format and pixel format is that vector formats can be scaled to look good in a wide range of resolutions. Pixel formats suffer when displayed in resolutions other than the resolution they were created in. Pixel formats capture small details and subtle changes in the image much better than vector formats. As a result, pixel formats are more appropriate for photographs or realistic paintings and vector formats are more appropriate for logo's and simple web and mobile based art.

  4. Because the two formats have complementary strengths, it makes sense to use both. In these cases, you can choose to create and manipulate your images using both Photoshop and Illustrator (or CorelDraw--which does both), or you can use the vector tools in Photoshop or the rasterization tools in Illustrator. The best approach is dictated on a case by case basis. The obvious guideline is to select the primary tool based on the output format needed.

  5. If you want to use vector tools on a pixel based image in Photoshop, it can be done using the Pen tool or using Photoshop Generate. You can then gain the advantages of developing with vector art either in Photoshop or by exporting the vector art into Illustrator. After using Illustrator, you can then bring the art back into Photoshop if you intend to ultimately save in a pixel based format.

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Photoshop’s Generator can save SVGs (yes, proper, vector-only SVGs based on shape layers created in Photoshop). You will need Photoshop CC 2014.2 (or 2014.1) to do it though.

Help from Adobe: https://helpx.adobe.com/photoshop/using/generate-assets-layers.html

This Photoshop document:

Created this SVG:

<svg xmlns="http://www.w3.org/2000/svg" xmlns:xlink="http://www.w3.org/1999/xlink" preserveAspectRatio="xMidYMid" width="272" height="245" viewBox="0 0 272 245">
      .cls-3 {
        fill: #fc6665;
  <g id="vectorsvg">
    <circle id="circle-1" class="cls-3" cx="50" cy="50" r="50"/>
    <rect id="rect-1" class="cls-3" x="72" y="145" width="200" height="100"/>
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Change the fill to a gradient, then open the svg in Illustrator.... This is less than a solid solution. –  Scott Apr 1 at 16:52
It depends what you need the SVG for. You’re right though, support for exporting SVGs is sketchy at best, but if you just want solid icons or path data, it works really well. –  Marc Edwards Apr 2 at 0:29
If you just want path data you can just export paths. –  Scott Apr 2 at 1:21
Scott, I think you have to admit that Photoshop is actually an acceptable vector design tool for some situations. –  Marc Edwards Apr 4 at 0:12
Mark, Basically, no I don't. Not if your desire is to create true vector files for use in other applications. If you want rudimentary shapes with flat fills, then okay, svg may work for you. But that is the exception, not the rule. The reality is you really need more tools than just one. A carpenter doesn't build a quality house with only a hammer. And you can't build quality vector files with only Photoshop. Some users desperately want Photoshop to do everything because they don't want to learn anything else. That doesn't mean Photoshop is good for everything. It's not. –  Scott Apr 4 at 1:12


Hope this helps show you how to create a vector graphic in Photoshop.

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I would like to point out that this is a horribly misleading link. While it is absolutely possible to create paths in Photoshop and export them to Illustrator, the author of the tutorial fails to expand the layer states in Illustrator. If he/she had you would see that each and every shape has a clipping mask applied to a raster fill. That is not "true eps" (actually there is no such things a "true" eps). In addition, this tutorial uses Illustrator, so how in the world the author sees that as "creating a true eps in Photoshop" is a mystery. Horrible link. –  Scott Jul 10 '13 at 17:11

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