I am trying to open a PSD into Illustrator so that I can save it as an AI and not all of my layers are showing. I have searched all around to see if anyone else's answer can help but nothing has worked.

The PSD file does have both vector and raster layers and quite a lot of layers as it is a large file.

I have tried opening it normally and placing it. I have separated my folders within my PSD to try save only sections of and it still does not show all the layers.

Is it possible for Illustrator to still display all of the layers correctly?

Is there something I am not doing correctly in order to get my layers to show?

Any help or suggestions would be appreciated :) thank you!


What happened was I created some packaging for a client using Photoshop (as it did not have to be fully vector and I had some special brushes and shapes that I used in ps)

I used the exact dimensions for printing so that it would be big enough etc...

And they are very happy with it except the printing company then asked for the AI file. So I explained that I used Photoshop and converted it to an Ai for them. But they said they could not see all the layers and wanted this in case they needed to make any changes.

Does this mean that I should rather tell them the AI file is not going to show all the layers and they will have to use the PSD to make any changes?

I can still post a screen shot if you are willing to have a look :)

I'm still a bit of a noob at other programs like illustrator and indesign but I will definitely put aside some time to learn more. Thanks again

  • 1
    Hi! Lot of people here will wonder why you want to do this and what you actually expect as result from this. Illustrator & Photoshop have very different functions & features, it's possible not everything will appear in Illustrator if you originally created your file in PSD. Opening a file with rasterized images, blending & effects will not make your original file a vector. Maybe upload a screenshot of your Photoshop layer panel; that could help us see what you're trying to convert. You should also consider using Indesign if you want to mix pictures & vectors!
    – go-junta
    Commented Oct 8, 2015 at 11:12
  • I can't believe the number of posts like this - where a direct answer to a simple question isn't given! Commented May 18, 2020 at 16:07

1 Answer 1


The printing company wants to see the dieline & adjust your bleed if necessary because most likely, if you don't have any experience in packaging, your print-ready file might not be right. Printers have some specific requirements that they don't always share with designers because it's too technical and specific to their equipment or process.

The real technique:

For that kind of project, you should assemble everything in Indesign, QuarkXpress or any other publishing software; you import in it your background with the Photoshop effects FLATTENED saved as a eps, tiff or pdf file. You can import as many flattened images as you want. The vectors are usually done in Illustrator and saved as eps, pdf or ai, and imported as well in InDesign, in separate Illustrator files. Not copy/pasted, imported.

All the fonts and linked images are in a separate folder in the root folder where the main Indesign file is and should always follow that file. In Illustrator, it's not a bad idea to vectorize your fonts on the final print-ready files or logos; if you don't, make sure you send them to the printer as well (every single font used in your design, logo, graphics, etc.).

Designers usually send a print-ready PDF, and all this package above IF the printer requests editable files. But most designers (and for good reasons) are resistant to send editable files and prefer to do their revisions themselves, and re-send a new print-ready instead.

The other way

You can always do this with Illustrator using the exact same technique I mentioned above but don't do it the way you explained in your question with all the layers and effects from Photoshop.

Merge some layers, simplify that PSD to the maximum, then import. That will greatly help you fix your issue. Keep the text layers un-merged if possible so they can be converted to vector. Normally, you shouldn't import special effects, layer masks, blending and all these layer effects from Photoshop to Illustrator to avoid losing layers or getting bad conversions.

If you decide to work in Illustrator, I suggest you don't try to import your whole Photoshop file at once but rebuild your file in Illustrator instead. Whatever can be done in vector should be done in vector, especially texts. It's more work this way but it's more accurate too and the printed result will be super sharp! You already know how to import layers in Illustrator, you should be able to save a lot of time and keep most of your texts and logos in vectors.

Please have a look at the first part of my answer on this question to see why: Software for Calendar Designing

You can also send your editable files to the printer (the layers of the Photoshop parts) but frankly, it's better to ask what are the requirements, revisions and guidelines, and do the changes yourself if you can, and if there's any. If your file is very complex, they might end up asking you to do it anyway. If you do send the editable files, make sure to identify the print-ready and the editable files properly to not confuse the printer.


For the dieline, have a look at this: How should I set up dielines so that they are not printed?

You'll learn to love Illustrator and Indesign, especially Indesign (or QuarkXpress) for that kind of project. Once you know how to use it, you'll see how it can save you a lot of time and add way more precision to your work! You can ask your printer or their prepress department about it and how they prefer to receive files. And how to prepare them.

  • Thank you so much for taking the time to write and explain all of this it has really helped a lot. :) I will work on what you have suggested and I look forward to learning some new programs!
    – Mel
    Commented Oct 8, 2015 at 13:13

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