I have a photo of a block print design I'd like to turn into a path in photoshop. What is the best way to extract the design and turn it into a path so I can make it a vector shape?

enter image description here

  • 1
    possible duplicate of How to convert a raster image into vector? "Photoshop" and "vector" are not really related. You'll need Illustrator (or it's opensource cousin Inkscape) to trace this image and convert it into a vector. Commented Apr 16, 2014 at 9:27
  • I don't want to do anything sophisticated with it; just create a custom shape from it. There are quite a few vector tools in photoshop (pen tool, path from selection etc), I just want to know the best way to get a simple vector shape for scaling/colour fill.
    – harryg
    Commented Apr 16, 2014 at 9:47
  • you're giving part of the answer yourself: path from selection. I guess you could use a colour range selection and convert that to a (complex) path. I is way better and easier to do things like this in Illustrator, though!
    – Vincent
    Commented Apr 16, 2014 at 13:55
  • Yeah I figured it would be easier in illustrator (which I unfortunately don't have...) I actually got OK results by first using greyscale then levels and threshold to emphasize the pattern. Then much easier to make a selection from the channel. After tidying it up a bit I have a pretty good path to be turned into a shape. Thanks for the suggestions though
    – harryg
    Commented Apr 16, 2014 at 14:02

2 Answers 2


Photoshop does have vector tools but in my opinion they are far less intuitive than Illustrator's and don't give you the same level of path control. I think that the graphic you have attached will take considerably longer to construct in Photoshop than in Illustrator.

I think you'd be better off going into Illustrator and manually tracing the paths; it might take a little longer than you want it to, but I barely ever use Illustrator's in-built vector trace tools, because they are never as accurate as I want them to be.

Also there are workarounds for some elements seen here, e.g. the three nested rings at the top of the image - you can use Illustrator's Rotate tool to rotate and copy all of the miniature circles (see this tutorial if you're interested: http://www.insidenewcity.com/blog/view/illustrator-tip-duplicate-a-shape-along-a-circle)

Once you're done with Illustrator it's pretty easy to copy a vector from there into Photoshop, if Photoshop is where you want to edit the appearance of your path with raster effects etc.

I hope this helps, and realise that my points are perhaps moot if you don't have Illustrator! ;)


Run the Illustrator, take a path tool and go on. It's enough to draw only a half of this shape. The rest is just a vertical reflection.

Believe me it's a waste of time trying to find some other solution. I am pretty sure that the result won't be as you would like it to be.

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