I know people prefer using CorelDraw or Adobe Illustrator, but I want to know if there is a technique I can follow to use Adobe Photoshop to make vector Images.

  • There is a short cut process originating with Photoshop that is helpful for simple vector illustrations & icons. I use it for speed, although helpful if you are not confident with the pen tool & functions. Create your illustration in Photoshop at 240 dpi. Flat colours give best results. For an icon I use black. Export as a jpg at max quality. Run this through an app called Vector Magic and the vector will be created for you (better than illustrator's image trace). You can knock out background in the app and open in Illustrator to rework. Sample chatbot character: bit.ly/2AG8HrV Commented Oct 4, 2019 at 16:15

5 Answers 5


Note: This answer was originally written back in 2013 when SVG was a "newer" option in Photoshop and prior to Photoshop having the ability to "export assets." Support for SVG has grown in the past decade. While I still believe Photoshop is not the proper tool if you want anything more than flat icons in vector form, it is possible to export SVG files which are 100% vector from Photoshop - see addendum at the end of the answer. I'd encourage users to try exporting vector constructions of varying complexity to SVG to see what may or may not be retained in the exports, if the SVG format is even viable for their workflow (which may not be the case.)

TL;DR: With the exception of rudimentary SVG exporting *(See addendum below).... Photoshop can not create true, 100% resolution independent, vector files in any other format.

This is a very common misconception.

Think of it like a car. -- Can you go 4-wheeling with a Toyota Prius? Sure you can! Is it going to do all the things a Jeep Wrangler can do? Heck no. There's a reason you need to use a 4-wheel drive vehicle to go 4-wheeling, just as there's a reason you need to use a vector application to create vector files.

*(Excluding SVG -- See addendum below)

Regardless of how you create a file and save it, Photoshop always saves both vector and raster information. Photoshop files are always raster files which may or may not also contain embedded vector data. They are never vector files.

A true vector file contains zero raster data and is 100% resolution independent. Meaning the file is not bound by any PPI/DPI setting.

You can't create vector files with Photoshop. You can only create raster files with some embedded vector data. This means there may be a vector square and its edges will remain sharp and crisp, however if that square has a gradient fill. That gradient fill is raster entirely in Photoshop and it will suffer upon scaling in an external tool/software.

Applications such as Illustrator, Inkscape, CorelDraw, Xara, Sketch, etc. actually can create files which contain only 100% resolution independent vector data. It's not a matter of "people preferring" to use a vector application. It's required if you want a true vector file in the end.

This is not to say that the vector tools within Photoshop are overall inferior, they generally are not. Although actual vector-based applications will absolutely be more robust where creation of vector data is concerned.

Yes you can draw with the vector tools in Photoshop and create vector content. But in order to get the real benefit of that vector content in Photoshop, you have to always use Photoshop for all future alterations.

When you enlarge or transform a vector container within Photoshop, Photoshop interpolates the interior raster data to suit the transformation. That interpolation does not happen outside of Photoshop. So, after exporting/saving if one scales something like a Photoshop EPS in InDesign, the vector edges will scale and remain crisp because they are vector, but the interpolation of the interior raster data does not happen outside of Photoshop. So "broken pixels" are entirely possible with a Photoshop EPS even though you used vector tools.

This issue arises when you save the file or export the Photoshop file in all vector-capable formats - PDF, EPS, PSD - Photoshop creates a raster file with embedded vector data. Photoshop does not create a vector file. This is entirely unlike actual vector-based applications.

For production purposes, this difference may be largely unimportant if you are already working at a high ppi in Photoshop. But a user should be aware that simply using Photoshop's vector tools and saving as an EPS/PDF does not create vector files using any currently available version of Photoshop (CC2022 as of this writing).

I realize some users want Photoshop to create vector files because that means they don't need to learn a new application to generate a new file format. However, there's no way around it. If you want actual vector files, you must use an actual vector application. Photoshop is and always has been a raster application.

* Addendum regarding SVG:

There's been some comments regarding SVG from Photoshop. It is possible to export a 100% resolution independent vector SVG from Photoshop if file construction is correct. The overall construction of any such SVG generally must be fairly rudimentary and without any layer styles, filters, blurs, etc. SVG only works if files are as "basic" as they can be, containing only flat fills/strokes and without complex shape interactions or masking. In addition, whether or not SVG is a suitable format for any particular reproduction method may be another matter. However, if one wishes to generate something such as flat, one color, vector icons, Photoshop may be suitable if the SVG format is used when exporting. However, there are still some strong limitations as to what can be created for a viable vector export.

I would caution though.. if the goal is to generate true vector files, one really should be using a true vector application. While I love Photoshop and it certainly can create many, many things. It's not the be-all-end-all for everything. Photoshop can export video as well.. but its abilities pale in comparison to dedicated video application, just as they pale in comparison to vector apps. If you wanted a robust, intricately edited and produced video, then Photoshop would not be a tool to use instead of something like Adobe Premiere. You'd use Premiere for anything more than very simple video edits, just as you should use Illustrator if you want more robust vector files.

  • You CAN really draw vector graphics in Photoshop. For example, I usually export vector from PS to Flash. Therefore, you can create true vector images. Commented Mar 21, 2014 at 17:45
  • @Dani Yes you can draw using vectors in Photoshop. But you can not save (or export) a true vector file from Photoshop. Have you checked those exports? Much like exporting to Illustrator - they are vector containers with raster fills. That's not a true vector file. The best you can do is draw vectors in Photoshop, then export the paths and use some other true vector application to add fills and strokes. I understand people really want Photoshop to create vector files, but the truth is that Photoshop simply does not.
    – Scott
    Commented Mar 21, 2014 at 18:24
  • In addition, the mere fact you need to use Flash is further evidence that Photoshop is insufficient for creating real vector files.
    – Scott
    Commented Mar 21, 2014 at 18:27
  • What do you understand as true vector file? Commented Mar 24, 2014 at 17:03
  • No raster content. Most often users desperate to use Photoshop for vector file are trying to sell vector files at micro-stock sites. And much like those sites, I don't see a file containing a bunch of vector containers with raster image fills as being true vector. Scaling a file with vector containers and raster fills, will break the pixels in the raster fills - that's not vector. Note: I'm not saying you can't create files with Photoshop. Vector containers with raster fills are fine for most production. But they aren't true vector.
    – Scott
    Commented Mar 24, 2014 at 17:04

Chippin' in, in case anyone still wants to create vector elements in Photoshop (to use with raster images, for example, or for any other situation).

The tool Photoshop has that allows you to work with vector graphics, is the Pen Tool. The basic operation of the Pen Tool involves clicking around the Photoshop canvas to make points appear. These points will be connected by lines and start to create a shape.

Compared to other programs (like Illustrator), it's the things you can do WITH the shapes once you have them drawn what is somehow lacking. Photoshop will let you draw, modify nodes and play with combining, intersecting or substracting them, but it won't let you do more complex operations.

The Adobe Forums have a very complete guide on how to get started with the Pen Tool.


You CAN export the paths you create to an Illustrator file, but the basic view is Photoshop was created for raster images and Illustrator was created for vector images. CorelDraw does both in one program, but the trade off is it does neither as good as Adobe, imo.


I think this thread needs a summary, otherwise readers may leave still confused. Most readers will not care if the results are "true eps" or "true vector files", they just want to get something done. However, they should be aware of the limits and constraints on certain techniques. Here are the key concepts given in the answers:

  1. Photoshop is a pixel (raster) based image processing tool that has some vector capabilities. It was originally designed to manipulate and save pixel based images (for example, digital photographs), but it has matured into a much more flexible tool.

  2. Illustrator is a vector based image processing tool that has some rasterization capabilities. Vector based images do not store pixel information, it stores the image as data that will be interpreted by a vector-based image drawing program.

  3. Both types of image files require a computer program to prepare the file data for display or print, but ultimately the printer or computer requires the image to be in pixel format. As a result, vector based files require more processing. The main trade-off between vector format and pixel format is that vector formats can be scaled to look good in a wide range of resolutions. Pixel formats suffer when displayed in resolutions other than the resolution they were created in. Pixel formats capture small details and subtle changes in the image much better than vector formats. As a result, pixel formats are more appropriate for photographs or realistic paintings and vector formats are more appropriate for logo's and simple web and mobile based art.

  4. Because the two formats have complementary strengths, it makes sense to use both. In these cases, you can choose to create and manipulate your images using both Photoshop and Illustrator (or CorelDraw--which does both), or you can use the vector tools in Photoshop or the rasterization tools in Illustrator. The best approach is dictated on a case by case basis. The obvious guideline is to select the primary tool based on the output format needed.

  5. If you want to use vector tools on a pixel based image in Photoshop, it can be done using the Pen tool or using Photoshop Generate. You can then gain the advantages of developing with vector art either in Photoshop or by exporting the vector art into Illustrator. After using Illustrator, you can then bring the art back into Photoshop if you intend to ultimately save in a pixel based format.

  • It would be better to say that raster images are prepared when saving, while vector drawings are prepared by the viewers machine and can thus be more flexible in terms of scaling at the users end etc. Otherwise its not clear why 3D graphics applications arent vector applications, and why they sometimes are. Anyway your leaving out a big point and that is: You dont necceserily want a application that does a little bit of both. Because you want to be sure your vector drawings are vectors. The other way around isnt the same though. So the crossover is relatively easily done after you rasterize.
    – joojaa
    Commented Mar 11, 2021 at 6:57

Photoshop’s Generator in some limited cases can save SVGs (yes, proper, vector-only SVGs based on shape layers created in Photoshop). You will need Photoshop CC 2014.2 (or 2014.1) to do it though.

Help from Adobe: https://helpx.adobe.com/photoshop/using/generate-assets-layers.html

This Photoshop document:

A red rectangle and red circle, in a 512x512 image

Created this SVG:

<svg xmlns="http://www.w3.org/2000/svg" xmlns:xlink="http://www.w3.org/1999/xlink" preserveAspectRatio="xMidYMid" width="272" height="245" viewBox="0 0 272 245">
      .cls-3 {
        fill: #fc6665;
  <g id="vectorsvg">
    <circle id="circle-1" class="cls-3" cx="50" cy="50" r="50"/>
    <rect id="rect-1" class="cls-3" x="72" y="145" width="200" height="100"/>
  • 2
    Change the fill to a gradient, then open the svg in Illustrator.... This is less than a solid solution.
    – Scott
    Commented Apr 1, 2015 at 16:52
  • It depends what you need the SVG for. You’re right though, support for exporting SVGs is sketchy at best, but if you just want solid icons or path data, it works really well. Commented Apr 2, 2015 at 0:29
  • If you just want path data you can just export paths.
    – Scott
    Commented Apr 2, 2015 at 1:21
  • Scott, I think you have to admit that Photoshop is actually an acceptable vector design tool for some situations. Commented Apr 4, 2015 at 0:12
  • 2
    Mark, Basically, no I don't. Not if your desire is to create true vector files for use in other applications. If you want rudimentary shapes with flat fills, then okay, svg may work for you. But that is the exception, not the rule. The reality is you really need more tools than just one. A carpenter doesn't build a quality house with only a hammer. And you can't build quality vector files with only Photoshop. Some users desperately want Photoshop to do everything because they don't want to learn anything else. That doesn't mean Photoshop is good for everything. It's not.
    – Scott
    Commented Apr 4, 2015 at 1:12

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