I seem to be stuck in a situation where all I can get out of some designers(through a client so it's a little embarrassing now I've asked more than three times) is some vectored pdfs.

I need to put these graphics on a website, and it'd be nice to preserve the vectorisation by converting them to a vectored png.

I've tried googling around, but the software always seems to produce raster graphics - not really ideal.

Thanks in advance for any suggestions.


Erm.. there's no such thing as a "vector png." PNG, by nature, is a raster format.

I'll assume you are using Fireworks since that's the only place I've ever seen vectors exist in a png file. Fireworks will embed vector content within the png format, that's proprietary and non-standard.

What Fireworks basically does is save two versions of the file within the png container - the standard raster image used everywhere, then a hidden sub-layer of data which only Fireworks reads. That sub-layer of data can contain vector information, but again, only Fireworks reads it as far as I know.

Whether or not you can convert the PDF for use with Fireworks depends greatly upon how the PDF was saved and what application was used to create the PDF.

First thing to try, drag the PDF to Photoshop.....

If the PDF was saved via Photoshop with editing capabilities in tact, and vector and/or shape layers were used in the creation of the Photoshop file, you will see the vector and/or shape layers upon opening the PDF with Photoshop. Save the file as a .psd file. Open the .psd with Fireworks and be certain that "Maintain Layer Editability over Appearance" is selected. The vector data should transfer without any issues.

If the PDF shows no vector/shape layers when opened with Photoshop, do nothing and close the file.

Next thing to try, drag the PDF to Illustrator....

If you can select objects/paths in Illustrator, you may be able to do a bit of work to get the vectors to export to a .psd file which can then be opened in Fireworks with the vector data.

How you do this greatly depends upon the actual artwork and how it was originally constructed. If it was originally built with Illustrator or Indesign, it may take very little effort to export to a .psd format. If it was built in some third party app it may not translate well to a psd and may take some effort to re-fill or re-color elements and remove raster images and/or clipping masks which can be created at times.

There are occasions where you have all the vector paths, but they have been converted to clipping masks with embedded raster images for fills. Often you need to remove the raster fills and convert the clipping paths to standard paths then recolor everything. Once all that is done, you can often choose File > Export > PSD and choose to "write layers" and get decent results. That resulting .psd file should work in Fireworks just like any other .psd.

If dragging the PDF to either Photoshop or Illustrator does not result in any paths or vector data indicators (anchors, beziers, etc) then there is no vector data contained within the PDF.

In the end.... there are dozens of ways to create a PDF. There's no blanket "yes" or "no" answer... the best I can say is "it depends upon the PDF."

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    I really thought PNG's were vector.. Fireworks warped my mind by saving the vector data in png files. That explains why those designers weren't doing what I was asking!.. it was impossible. – Paul Hutchinson Jul 4 '12 at 11:26
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    Non-Fireworks users will think you're a tad nuts (or incompetent) if you ask for a "vector png." If one has never used Fireworks, one has no clue that vector data can be embedded in them. And, unfortuantely, Fireworks doesn't get the usage it should due to the "only-screen" output. Nothing I do can be seen as ever being only for reproduction on screen/monitor so Fireworks is often a hindrance in file creation as I'm sure it is for many. – Scott Jul 4 '12 at 11:28
  • You'll get better results asking for a layered .psd file, which you can then simply open with Fireworks. – Scott Jul 4 '12 at 11:34

“Vectored PNG”? PNG is a bitmap-based format and can not contain vectors*. Common vector formats are:

  • AI (Adobe Illustrator)
  • PDF (Portable Document Format)
  • EPS (Encapsulated PostScript)
  • PS (PostScript)
  • SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics)

PSD (Photoshop document) files can also contain vectors. All the mentioned formats can contain bitmaps as well.

I need to put these graphics on a website.

Out of all the formats above, SVG is really the only one that should be used as part of a website. SVG is fairly uncommon for website graphics, because support isn't great in earlier versions of IE. You're probably better off with PNG, GIF or JPEG on the website, but you may wish to keep a vector version of the image/logo/thing on hand in case that's needed.

*Vector info can be contained as metadata. Fireworks does this. It's not common though.

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  • Re. "SVG... support isn't great in earlier versions of IE", it's worse than that, SVG support doesn't exist at all in IE except in the latest version (IE 9). You can however convert SVG to Raphael using something like this. Needs a little bit of very basic javascript knowledge to get a static vector image from a converter working, but it works on all versions of IE(6+). – user56reinstatemonica8 Jul 4 '12 at 12:46

I have the same problem with friends Designers and co-workers, so my solution is just SAVE AS... EPS format then check for elements on Fireworks.

1.- Open the PDF file on Adobe Illustrator

2.- Save as... Illustrator EPS format -> (select)Use Artboards -> (ALL)

3.- Open the EPS file in Adobe Fieworks with the options:

Convert layers in states (or something like that)

Include invisible layers

4.- After open the file... just UNGROUP the elements, and thats all, now you have the Vector Elements from a PDF File (created on Illustrator)

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