I am trying to improve my photo quality for products by reexamining my method of placing Illustrator-made designs into Photoshop.

For example, if I'm mocking up the look of a notepad, I photograph a blank one, edit the image in Photoshop, and then export the artwork from Illustrator.

Currently I export is as a PNG using "export as" and save it at 600ppi with the anti-aliasing set as art optimized, background transparent, using artboards to keep the size if the work doesn't go to the edge. I place it into Photoshop as a smart object and use the transform tools to line everything up with the notepad in the image.

Sometimes I'll apply smart filters, change the blending, etc. to make it look more printed rather than placed over the photo.

I really like this method because I only have to do this once and can then use replace contents for new designs.

I'm trying to improve this method for two reasons:

  1. At 100% the placed artwork looks fine, but when zoomed in you can quickly see the jagged/stepped lines on everything. The color breaks down as well, which actually isn't such a problem at the moment as it gives it a more printed look, but the edge quality is a big problem. The new site I'm using these images for shows a very zoomed in option so it's important to have them clear.
  2. I'd be happy just to fix the line quality issue but while I'm here, I'd also love to have the placed artwork pick up the texture as well as subtle shadow of the paper behind. I've tried every blending mode and so far Multiply has been great for letting the shadows show but that's it. For items that have a solid background with no transparency, I'd love to have the texture show through so that they look more realistic. Again, this is a secondary problem but I'd really like to improve my system.

I'm using CC 2018 for both programs and final images are exported using PS save for web, usually JPEG set to high/quality:60, 1500x1300px.

I've included a screenshot of the edge quality below.

![enter image description here]1

  • 1
    Why are you not simply placing the AI file into Photoshop.. or even copy/pasting from AI to PS as a smart object? Why introduce the raster (png) step at all??? -- and all raster based artwork will show pixels if you zoom in. You can't prevent that.
    – Scott
    Commented Apr 12, 2018 at 21:53

3 Answers 3


I'll be honest... I don't understand some parameters of your workflow. I absolutely don't understand why you are exporting as png from Illustrator merely to bring that then into Photoshop. You are introducing a rasterization step which is unwarranted.

So.. we'll take an photo of a note pad...

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And some vector artwork...

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Copy the vector artwork in Illustrator, switch to Photoshop and paste it as a Smart Object.

enter image description here

Transform and position the smart object as desired.

enter image description here

Lower the opacity of the Smart Object to around 85-90% to help it blend with the photo.

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Add a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer to reduce the smart object's saturation to help it blend further.

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Copy the notepad image, move the copy above the vector artwork. Set the blend mode to Darken and lower opacity until you are pleased.
This specific step depends upon the artwork itself. Not all images will work with these settings.

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You can then edit or update the Smart Object contents and keep the overall appearance, transformations, and placement.

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Regarding "zooming and seeing pixel edges". That's how pixels work. You can't "zoom in" on raster art and not see pixel edges.

How most web sites handle any "zoom" function is to load a very large image, 3 or 4 times larger than the displayed image, then when the "zoom" function of the site is called, the larger image is shown in the zoom area. They don't actually blow up or zoom in on anything. They use two completely different sized images.. one for general page display and one for zoom. It's more akin to a thumbnail relationship than any actual "zoom".

In some cases, ta web site can use Cascading Style Sheet and media queries to reduce a very large image for page display, then the "zoom" function actually shows the full sized image. This depends upon file size of images (kb) most of the time though.

If you want sharper edges at larger sizes, create larger images.

  • Why the down vote? This answer isn't helpful??
    – Scott
    Commented Apr 13, 2018 at 13:13

You don't have to export your AI files as PNG, JPEG or other formats. Just copy the object from Illustrator then paste it into your workspace in Photoshop.

Then place your "Vector Smart Object" properly and adjust transform (distor, skew, perspective etc.)

Good luck !


The new best way to port files between Photoshop and Illustrator is in their native file formats.

Save your Photoshop .PSD and open in Illustrator.

Save your Illustrator .AI and open in Photoshop.


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