I'll just start by saying that I have indeed tried the "built-in" "Export Paths to Ai" option and followed-through by changing the view mode in Ai to "Outline" but the document is still empty.

I have Photoshop CS6 Extd. and Illustrator CS6.

My Photoshop design is made up of strictly paths, shapes, and text--no rasters. It scales fine indefinitely within Photoshop because everything is a vector. I've tried opening my PSD in Ai but all the layers are flattened--no paths. I could try selecting each layer in Photoshop manually and exporting them one by one. But my design has nearly 50 layers, even if I made an action that does not seem proper whatsoever.

Are these two products not compatible, or am I missing something? What can I do to export my vector design in Photoshop to Illustrator?

Here is a sample PSD file that is of identical properties: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B9ip8MnSNo8CTWNWbTVvWExSRkE/view?usp=sharing

6 Answers 6


First off, I realize you are using CS6 but I'm on CC, so their might be difference. With that said, you need to make sure all your shape layers are selected/highlighted. Highlight all layers to be exported

Then, while selected, go to "export paths to Illustrator". Export Paths to Illustrator Make sure you select "All Paths"

When you open the exported file in Illustrator, it will most likely group all your shapes under one layer (make sure you go into the "Layers Panel Options" in the Layers tab and you have "Show Layers Only" unchecked? If not you won't see all the shape layers.) Open up that layer and select all the shapes, then choose "release to layers" located under the layer tab menu. Exported file open in Illustrator

Keep in mind that you won't retain any of the color information. They will be straight up paths. Also, if you want to bring over any text, be sure to make it a shape before exporting. Hope this helps.

  • When selecting "Export Paths to Illustrator" I assume I need to choose "Document Bounds?"
    – Matt
    Commented Dec 29, 2015 at 21:26
  • Yes you do. That's what I had selected. Oh, and you might also get another dialogue with a drop down asking what layers. Just choose "ALL"
    – ErickP
    Commented Dec 29, 2015 at 21:35
  • I could not get that method to work unfortunately. Still results in a blank document in Illustrator.
    – Matt
    Commented Dec 30, 2015 at 1:55
  • @Matt Just curious, in Illustrator, if you go into the "Layers Panel Options" in the Layers tab, do you have "Show Layers Only" checked? If you do have it checked, the uncheck it. This will show you everything contained in that layer. If not I will try to upload screen shots from my end.
    – ErickP
    Commented Dec 30, 2015 at 15:02

I just tried (File > Export > Export As...) and selected svg from the drop down list of file types. The svg it makes seems to work perfectly in Illustrator.

  • I am using Photoshop CC - sorry, I didn't notice at first that I'm using a different version than you mentioned in your question.
    – Jory L
    Commented Dec 29, 2015 at 21:07
  • Hi Jory O, welcome to GDSE and thanks for your answer. If you have any questions, please see the help center or ping one of us in the Graphic Design Chat once your reputation is sufficient (20). Keep contributing and enjoy the site!
    – Vincent
    Commented Dec 31, 2015 at 9:46

Through trial and error I found out that workflow between Photoshop --> Illustrator does not work nicely with "Color Overlay" if it is used as a layer style.

Additionally, I found that it is possible to easily retain a text layer without converting it to a shape. This will leave the text edit-able within Illustrator.

Thus, one may simply open a PSD file in Illustrator (using same versions, I have only tried with CS6) if your Photoshop document is free of all forms of raster-based art. For instance, one must be careful not to have any layer blending modes applied, layer masks, or layer styles as they all impede the math-based vectors from opening in Illustrator without flattening occurring.

Something else to consider is verifying your document for accuracy once successfully open in Illustrator. My project had some either improperly applied, or missing "Fills" and "Strokes."

  • You may get better results by circulationg over via a PDF file as you can more easily control flattening.
    – joojaa
    Commented Dec 31, 2015 at 7:15

Selecting the path with the white arrow tool and simply pasting it into Illustrator also works.

  • This is correct, but he mentioned that he had 50 layers to move over to Illustrator. This solution might be too time consuming unless he wanted them all in one layer instead of separated out.
    – ErickP
    Commented Jan 4, 2016 at 18:12

you can also simply save as EPS file and then open the file in Illustrator



you can also simply save as EPS file and then open the file in Illustrator WORKED PERFECTLY for text as well - though the text has been converted to outlines it works for my purposes

  • It's already mentioned in another answer. Also this is a really old question with an already accepted answer, please don't necrobump it if you're not adding anything new.
    – Luciano
    Commented Nov 11, 2019 at 9:57

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