I created a detailed vector illustration in Photoshop because I can't stand how Illustrator's Pen Tool behaves (more explanation at the end of the post)*.

Here's a section of the illustration:

Photoshop vector of face and curly hair

It's made of three kinds of vector shapes:

  1. Shapes with a fill and no stroke
  2. Shapes with a stroke and no fill (basically just a path, but they were created with Photoshop's Pen Tool as Shapes)
  3. Shapes with a stroke and a fill

I now want to bring all the vectors into Illustrator so I can do things like outline paths (not the same as stroke) and change path widths. However, the methods I'm trying have not worked.

Attempt #1: Open .psd file in Illustrator (same results as opening a new Illustrator file and using Place).

I do this:

Convert Photoshop Layers To Objects And Make Text Editable Where Possible

But then I get this:

Illustrator vectors and rasters that don't look the same as the Photoshop originals

Several problems:

  1. Not all vectors carried over.
  2. No strokes carried over. (The lines that look like strokes are actually rasterized images, not vectors.)
  3. Fills were added in some places where there were none.

Side-by-side comparison:

Photoshop vector of face and curly hair Illustrator vectors and rasters that don't look the same as the Photoshop originals

Attempt #2: Export Paths to Illustrator.


  1. I can't figure out how to select and export all paths at once. I can only do one at a time.

  2. When I test out an export of just one path, none of the stroke settings carry over.

Attempt #3: Export an EPS file from Photoshop and place it into Illustrator.

Image showed up in Illustrator's Navigator, but not on the canvas. Illustrator lagged a ton.

How can I faithfully move all my Photoshop vectors and their fill and stroke settings into Illustrator?

By stroke settings, I mean color, width, and alignment (I aligned all my strokes to the middle, not to the inside or outside of the path).

I'm using Photoshop CS6 and Illustrator CS6.

Recreating the illustration from scratch in Illustrator is out of the question.

I would also prefer not to use Live Trace, because I already have the vectors how I want them.

If there's anyone who knows how to handle this (any fellow Photoshop Pen Tool enthusiasts out there who have gone through this before?), I would appreciate it so much.

* Why I can't stand the Pen Tool in Illustrator

1. No Direct Selection shortcut for moving individual anchor points.

Photoshop: While using the Pen Tool, hold Command to quickly switch to Direct Selection Tool to move individual anchor points. No need to hit A to switch tools.

Illustrator: Holding Command and trying to drag an individual anchor point often moves the entire path. No way to reliably move just one anchor point without switching tools.

2. Added anchor points don't come with handles.

Photoshop: Anchor points added to an existing path come with handles for a smooth curvature.

Illustrator: Anchor anchor points added to a path do not get handles, which means I have to manually convert them, and this always goes wrong (see #3).

3. For some reason, convert and drag always curves the wrong way.

Photoshop: When converting an anchor point and dragging, the handles always curve the path the way I want them to (a smooth curve rather than an S curve).

Illustrator: When I convert a sharp anchor point to one with handles, the handles always curve the path the wrong way first.

  • 2
    Just to answer the illustrator issues.. 1) The Command/Ctrl key. 2) Only if added on straight paths. Anchors added to curves have handles. 3) So move the mouse to the other side while dragging. Photoshop is not now, nor has it ever been, a vector creation application. -- Idon't think you can simply move vectors from PS to AI.. as you noted, you can move paths, but all the paths need to be combined in PS first.. and fills/strokes never transfer, not ever. It is simply a mistake to try and create detailed vector artwork in Photoshop. – Scott Aug 11 '19 at 0:37
  • 1
    All that being posted.. export as SVG from Photoshop and open the SVG in AI.. that might yield viable results. It depends on exactly how complex the file is in Photoshop. – Scott Aug 11 '19 at 2:00
  • Hi Scott, (1) Not sure I understand what you mean by this. As stated, I do use the Command key to shortcut to the Direct Selection tool, but in Illustrator, half the time it drags the whole shape rather than the one anchor point I want to drag. (2) In Photoshop, new anchor points on straight paths become curved. (3) This is what I do, but it's slower than in Photoshop, because Photoshop always gets it right the first time. – Aubrie Aug 11 '19 at 4:07
  • Regarding SVG—it's a good idea. Sadly, it looks like there's no option to save the file as an SVG. I understand that Illustrator is a vector program and Photoshop isn't, but I wish that the Pen Tool in Illustrator were as well-designed as the one in Photoshop, or at least that a tool called by the same name in two programs made by the same company would have comparable settings. – Aubrie Aug 11 '19 at 4:12
  • The Pen tool issue is a matter of preference I find Photoshop's Pen horribly inaccurate and cumbersome.. so to each their own :) -- And you can export to svg, not save. – Scott Aug 11 '19 at 5:39

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