I've been asked by a friend to create a vector file from a .psd they have given me which only has one layer. I realize a .ai is a vector file by default, but I often see that an image needs traced, outlined, etc... to be a vector file a printer would be able to use. If I simply open the .psd file and save as an .ai, will she have what she needs to send to a printer?

I'm just trying to help out a friend as I have the software! Thank you so much in advance for any help!

  • It's not even "fake" vector. Of possible interest: graphicdesign.stackexchange.com/questions/17865/…
    – Scott
    Commented Dec 19, 2017 at 16:43
  • I had read that thread before posting here as I am using Ai. Luckily the extremely helpful and polite individual below helped me with an actual answer!
    – user110814
    Commented Dec 19, 2017 at 17:49
  • Answer below is spot on, but it's worth pointing out your assertion: "I realize a .ai is a vector file by default" is not correct. This will help you understand I think. Commented Dec 19, 2017 at 17:49
  • Thanks. I re-read the thread and it does contain some helpful insight. Off to find a good tutorial! Cheers.
    – user110814
    Commented Dec 19, 2017 at 17:51

1 Answer 1


No it is not.

While it will be openable the data will not be automatically converted to vector format just by saving it out as an Illustrator file.

You are correct, an image needs to be processed INSIDE Illustrator, either by manually tracing it out with shapes and the pen tool or trying to use the image trace function.

A printer can use it but it won't be a vector file. It will still be a raster image just sitting in an Illustrator file.

As a further note, printers generally prefer CMYK pdfs as an output to print from. Most don't want/need your native files unless they are the ones doing the design work and imposing.

  • Thank you! That is what I was guessing, but I wanted to make sure before I started the tutorials for making a "proper" vector file. My friend hand draws beer labels for local breweries and then scans into Photoshop. Her clients then request the vector files. I'm just trying to help her out and learn a new skill!
    – user110814
    Commented Dec 19, 2017 at 17:44
  • A "one stop" fix would be "auto-trace" (Google it) but sadly the results are often less than perfect (depending on the complexity of the source image) - but as a concept, auto-tracing the image, and saving it would (literally) create a vector file. Of course the "pro" approach would be to trace the image by hand, likely with the pen tool. Commented Dec 19, 2017 at 17:51
  • Okay. I'll check out auto-trace. It could at least give me a foundation to see what I'm going for with the hand trace with pen tool. Thanks again for the advice and help!
    – user110814
    Commented Dec 19, 2017 at 18:00

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