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I've been trying to decide on a file format to save a multitude of "master" images for a game project. The final product will be vector images. I would like to have the master copies of the images saved in a format that saves layers and all other important pieces of data for editor-side modifications later if needed.

I've been trying to decide between the PSD format or Illustrator's AI format. The most important fact I need to know about the PSD format here that I don't already know to make an informed decision is whether the PSD format saves path data. If it does is there any reason that would make it inferior to the AI format in regards to the manner in which it does?

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Whether or not Photoshop saves path data can be somewhat irrelevant. Photoshop will retain the vector data within the PSB, PSD, PDF, and EPS formats (Please see the links below).

However, you can't output straight path data from Photoshop in any* format. i.e. Photoshop does not save or export vector files, it saves raster files with embedded vector data, unlike Illustrator - which will do the inverse given raster content is present in Illustrator.

For my money, I'd much, much rather have an AI file with embedded raster images. Non-layered raster images can be extracted from Illustrator easily at their existing quality. Layered raster files may be another matter and may require a 2 file backup to retain everything in a workable state.

*One caveat is SVG. Photoshop can output straight vector in SVG format. However, if artwork is too complex SVG may not be a viable solution. And for backup purposes I'm not certain I'd trust the SVG format to remain viable. But for simple, flat shapes, SVG may be an option for output -- but if that's the construction, I can't see why Photoshop would be more beneficial than Illustrator.

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  • Thank you this was very helpful! It is a very common misconception indeed. What threw me off was the fact that you see tools for manipulating path data in Photoshop. – Hawkeye4040 May 4 at 1:48
  • @Hawkeye4040 the reality is for most general output, print or web, it's typically not a critical aspect for many. However, it becomes exceptionally critical when considering further editing or output which requires the complete absence of raster data. There's always raster data with any Photoshop file format (except the SVG caveat above). – Scott May 4 at 2:31
  • Yeah with the information provided I think Illustrator is certainly the go-to. It'll allow me to output to SVG or more accurately the custom format I've made for games (programming is more my area). AI would certainly be the format as I want to export the path data to my format as you would SVG. – Hawkeye4040 May 4 at 5:15
  • @Hawkeye4040 AI may be a a bad format since its undocumented! So to be future proof you rely on adobe to future proof your files. – joojaa May 4 at 13:09
  • Could you elaborate more on why it may be a bad format? – Hawkeye4040 May 4 at 21:03

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