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I have a simple question: How do I import a vector file into Photoshop WITHOUT getting it rasterised?

I know that Photoshop can do curves and paths and all of that, so why can't I open an SVG file in it?

I have now tried everything I can. I have a perfectly fine, vector imagine in one PDF file, now I want it to be transferred to Photoshop so it can have the vectors preserved. You cannot tell me it's impossible.

3 Answers 3

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Photoshop can import an SVG file as a "smart object". Although you will not be able to edit the curves so to speak (Photoshop is not a vector editing program...Illustrator is) the image will not be rasterised, and is fully scalable and non-destructively editable.

Chose File > Place Embedded (or Place Linked). Double click to edit the contents of the Smart Object (the SVG file in Illustrator). Or you can drag and drop an SVG from the libraries panel.

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You can cut and paste vector shapes to Photoshop from Illustrator. You have two options available to paste as a vector which is editable with Photoshop's vector tools:

  • paste as shape layer

  • paste as path

ADD: see a comment. Smart object also keeps the vector data, but it's not editable in PS. You can open it in Illustrator.

Lets' have the following image in illustrator:

enter image description here

Pasted to Photoshop they are:

enter image description here

The upper is pasted as shape layer. It generated a layer filled with the current foreground color and masked with all paths what happened to be included. You can make edits with the white arrow tool. Text is outlined, no more a text object.

The lower is pasted as path. Every path was added to the work path as new sub-paths. They can be selected, edited, stroked or used to make selections.

If you expect how to import it to PS as is with all colors, strokes effects and as fully in Photoshop editable vector, you must import it shape by shape to build the new layers with right colors. You will not get colors, strokes nor effects as vectors, only zero width colorless paths. The rest must be rebuilt in PS.

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  • You have 3 options: paste as a smart object. It will still be a vector object inside Photoshop, albeit not editable (in Photoshop - you can always open it back in Illustrator from the layers panel)
    – Luciano
    Dec 6, 2018 at 13:08
  • The new version of Photoshop offers four options to paste SVG files from Illustrator: 1. Smart Object 2. Pixels 3. Path 4. Shape Layer
    – Manghud
    Aug 11, 2020 at 10:04
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Simply put: Photoshop is not a vector editor.

Photoshop merely has some vector editing capabilities in it's raster code base but is not designed to be a full-fledged vector editing application.

If you wish to edit SVG files, a more apprpriate tool would be an actual vector editor such as Illustrator or InkScape. Or.... even a text editor to alter the SVG XML is more appropriate than Photoshop.

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  • just because that's not the main thing it's designed for doesn't mean it's not a vector editor. it can edit vector shapes, therefore it is a vector image. not everyone has access to photoshop AND illustrator. IMO it's vector editing tools are much easier to use than any vector-specific tool, and so I'd much rather use photoshop to edit them.
    – stackers
    Jan 4 at 16:10
  • clearly posted by someone unfamiliar with Illustrator trying to justify the use of Photoshop.
    – Scott
    Jan 4 at 20:07
  • clearly posted by someone who has the money and time to throw away on extra programs. I do not want to use illustrator. it is much more confusing to learn. i do not want to learn a second program when photoshop already has all the tools i need and is easier to understand.
    – stackers
    Jan 16 at 16:04
  • You don't seem to understand that Photoshop, while an excellent application, does not do everything. Check the links about.. you can't save a viable non-raster, vector-only file from Photoshop. Other than simple SVGs Photoshop is incapable of saving vector files. - I do get the money aspect.. but a carpenter isn't trying to build houses with ONLY a screwdriver. You need more than one tool in most instances. It makes no difference to me if you ONLY want to use Photoshop for everything but don't pretend Photoshop does everything, or everything well. It doesn't.
    – Scott
    Jan 16 at 19:18
  • well a hobbyist carpenter probably isnt building houses.
    – stackers
    Jan 17 at 19:18

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