I am working to convert a png to a vector graphic. I am outlining the image using the pen tool. Photoshop insists that the pen tool produce closed loops in order for me to use the "Stroke path..." tool. Why is this?


I assume you're stroking a path by selecting a bitmap layer, then opening the Paths panel and using Stroke Path from the flyout menu.

Stroke Path

Stroke Path apply

If you have an open path, the result will only contain a stroke on the actual portion of the shape that is connected. So that's no good for what you want (although it is easy to close a path using the pen tool). This behaviour is the same as Illustrator's strokes.

Stroke Path via Paths

If you use a the new stroke feature in Photoshop CS6, only the portion of the shape that is connected will be stroked. Again, this is the same behaviour as Illustrator.

enter image description here

enter image description here

But... if you use a layer style stroke, the entire object will get a stroke, even if the path isn't closed.

Layer Style Stroke

So it depends on exactly what you need the path for, but there's certainly a way to have a path stroked around the entire object, even if the path isn't closed.

Photoshop can be a great way to trace bitmap images to create vector paths. Once you're done, you can export the paths to Illustrator, if that's where you'd rather have them (they'll be unstyled though).


1) If you really want vector, you should be using Illustrator.

2) You can stroke open paths easily by highlighting the path in the Paths panel, then switching to the Brush or Pencil tool and hitting Shift-Return. However, Stroke Path.... from the Path menu works just as well with open paths.

I'm not familiar with any "stroke path tool" in any application.

  • Stroke Path is on the PS Paths menu. It basically traces the selected path on a raster layer.
    – Farray
    May 7 '12 at 19:37
  • I realize that and even reference it in my answer. But there is no "Stroke Path Tool." :)
    – Scott
    May 7 '12 at 19:39
  • Wow, I read that through a few times and still didn't make the connection. My bad...
    – Farray
    May 7 '12 at 19:41

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.