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How to vectorize an image in {{adobe-photoshop}}.

Learn how to change raster or pixel images into vector graphics.

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Vectorize tool in Adobe Photoshop

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What are vector graphics?

Vector graphics are digital designs that stay sharp at any size. Two-dimensional digital images are either vectors or rasters. Raster images, also known as bitmap images, are made up of pixels, which stay the same size as you zoom in and out of an image. This means that blowing these images up or zooming in can cause pixelation as the pixels become more visible.

Vector images, however, are made up of geometric polygons and colors, and thanks to the mathematical equations behind them, they adjust to stay crisp and clean at any size. This makes them popular assets in graphic design and digital arts. Logos, fonts, and icons are usually vector graphics.

How to turn a raster image into a vector image in {{photoshop}}.

Pick an image and give it a try with these steps:

  • Open your image.
    Import the image you want to vectorize into Photoshop.
  • Select the part of the image you want to vectorize.
    Choose the section you want to vectorize with an appropriate selection tool. If you want to select a rectangular area, use the Rectangular Marquee tool. If you want everything of a particular color, use the Magic Wand tool. If you just want to vectorize the subject of the image, Use the Select Subject command.
  • Add a Threshold layer.
    To convert your selection into a single-color image, add a new Threshold layer using the Layers panel, and select Create New Fill or Adjustment layer. You choose the threshold with the slider, and all pixels lighter than that tone become white, while all pixels darker become black.
  • Select Tonal Areas with the Color Range Command.
    Use the Color Range command to make a selection that includes all pixels that share a similar color. You’ll want to select all of the white or black in your image depending on which part you’d like to vectorize. Go to Select › Color Range. Use the Eyedropper tool to select either the white or black area.
  • Convert your selection into a path.
    Right-click inside your selection and choose Make Work Path to set a tolerance value for your path. A tolerance value determines how much your path should stick to the contours of the selection. The higher the tolerance value, the more precisely the path will match the selection.
  • Create a solid color layer.
    Go to the Layers panel and create a new Fill layer or Adjustment layer. Choose Solid Color from the menu. This new layer defines the shape of the vector on top of the Threshold layer. It can be any color you like.
  • Save the Vector Image as an SVG file.
    Right-click on the layer, select Export As, and choose SVG file. You now have a vector file.
A portrait photo of a person.
A portrait photo of a person.

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Vector and raster tutorials.

Get more details on how to use and create vector drawings with these {{photoshop}} tutorials.

A raster graphic image of a butterfly next to a vector graphic image of a butterfly.

Raster and vector facts.

Dive deeper into the difference between raster and vector graphics.

Learn more about vectors

A vector graphic image of a bird sitting on a branch.

Create with vector graphics.

Explore how to incorporate logos, icons, and other vector assets into your Photoshop projects.

Add vectors to your designs

Frequently asked questions.

Is there a way to vectorize an image in {{photoshop-online}} for free?

{{photoshop-express}} doesn’t allow you to vectorize an image at this time. Vectorizing images is currently limited to the desktop version of {{photoshop}}.

How do I vectorize an image in {{photoshop-on-the-ipad}}?

You cannot currently vectorize an image in {{photoshop-on-the-iPad}}. Instead, download {{illustrator-on-the-ipad}} as part of your Creative Cloud subscription.

Can I vectorize an image in {{photoshop}} without losing transparency?

Yes, you can. Select a tracing type that supports transparency from the available options in the Trace Bitmap dialog window. Select “High Color” or “Low Color” to preserve transparency during the vectorization process.

How do I vectorize a multicolored photo in {{photoshop}}?

Prepare the image to be vectorized by using the Image Size window (Ctrl + Alt + I) and set the resolution to 300. Separate the image you want to vectorize from the background. Either make a selection and copy it to a new layer or remove the background.

The next step is to make a work oath by clicking the layer icon on the Layers panel while holding down the ctrl or cmd key. This creates a selection of the image. Use the Marquee Tool (M) to move the cursor over to the selection and right-click. Choose Make Work Path from the menu. Keep your Tolerance at 1.0.

Press A to switch to the Direct Selection tool and right-click on the image. Create a vector mask. This will now show up in the Layers panel. Export your file as an .eps file to further edit in Illustrator by going to File > Save As and choosing Photoshop EPS as the format.

Can vector images be edited in {{photoshop}}?

As long as the vector image is in .pds format and uses shape layers, you can edit it in {{adobe-photoshop}}. Otherwise, it’s recommended to use {{Illustrator}}.

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