I am a web developer and I convert design elements from Photoshop to html. Sometimes I receive the designs in Illustrator. I like to export the Illustrator files to Photoshop so they are easier to work with.

However, when I export from Illustrator to Photoshop, even if I select the option to preserve layers and text edit-ability, I get a notice that some Containers have been flattened. This generally translates into the whole document being flattened and I have little options for working with the layers in Photoshop.

Is there a more effective way to preserve the layers and edit-ability in Photoshop? Thanks!

2 Answers 2


One of the lazy Illustrator workflow habits that will make you crazy is designing all on a single layer. From the stuff I receive, this seems to happen upward of 90% of the time. The net result is you end up with a single, flattened layer in Photoshop.

Your best bet is to prep the AI files before importing them. Use AI's Layers panel to select each element, or groups of elements that belong together, and move them to their own layers. For extra credit, name the layers so they're easier to identify. I frequently need to do this (as in, "almost always") with outside AI files I'm going to place in an InDesign layout.

  • Thank you for the thoughtful response. At least now I know what to do.
    – forrest
    Dec 29, 2011 at 3:46

For having objects in their own layers, you can simply work in a single layer and then at the top right corner of the Layer panel, go to panel options and click "Release to layers (Sequence)". Then follow these steps:

1. Do not use blending mode. It would be annoying but if you have even one object with blending mode applied, the whole project will be flattened in PSD file.

2. Ungroup everything. Simply Select All and press Ctrl+Shift+G bunch of times.

3. Rasterize effects. Some effects can't be exported as PSD, like Gaussian blur. You need to rasterize them first by going to Object > Rasterize from the menu. I had Drop shadow unrasterized and it was fine.

4. Do the final touch in Photoshop. There might be some overlaps caused by rasterizing in previous step. You need to fix those manually in Photoshop.

  • I've always just opened the original file in the program I need without problems. Photoshop will open .ai files and Illustrator will open .psd files. Apr 22, 2018 at 16:14
  • 1
    Sure @gucciferXCIV, but it will be opened as a flattened image. You won't have layers and editable texts which are what we want.
    – ttvd94
    Apr 23, 2018 at 17:10

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