How To 

How To Create A Vector Out Of A Raster Image In Photoshop

Most of your work in Photoshop will likely involve the manipulation of raster images - that is, images that are described through a series of pixels. But if you ever wanted to create an image that can be infinitely zoomed in without disintegrating into pixel date, you’ll need to convert it into a series of paths, a vector. These are particularly useful if you’re working with graphics that need to be manipulated for video or print. This tutorial will describe how to create such images from a raster base.

1. Select the areas you want to raster.
In this example, we will create a vectorized version of the icon on this sign. To begin, we’ll use a selection tool (in this case, the magic wand) to select all areas of that we want to include in our final vectorized product.

2. Apply a fill to the selection area.
Since this icon is covered by the physical wear and tear of the sign, we’ll need to fill the selection area with a solid color in order cover these little imperfections. To begin this process, hit “Edit > Fill..”.

3. Adjust the fill’s settings.
We’re presented with a dialog box that allows us to set the parameters for the fill. For this tutorial, we want to fill the selection with a simple black color so we’ll set the Contents to “Black”, the Mode to “Normal” and leave the Opacity level at 100%. With everything ready, we’ll hit “OK”.

4. Convert the selection to a Work Path.
Right-click the selection area to open a dropdown menu and select “Make Work Path…”. A dialogue box will appear. Here, you can adjust the tolerance value - the lower the value the more sensitive the path is in adhering to an image. We want a fairly smooth path, so we’ll use a Tolerance value of 3 pixels.

5. Open the Direct Selection tool.
With the work path created, we’re ready to convert the selection to a vector. In order to do this, we’ll need to utilize the Direct Selection tool. This appears as an arrow underneath the text tools on the toolbar. Right click this icon and select “Direct Selection Tool”.

6. Create a vector mask.
Right click any area on the work path to open a dropdown menu. From here, select “Create Vector Mask”.

7. Export the vector mask as an EPS file.
The vector mask will now appear as square next to your layer thumbnail in the Layers panel. In order to work with this vector in any Adobe application (including Photoshop), you’ll need to export it. To do this, simply hit “File > Save As…” and select the Format as “Photoshop EPS” before you save.

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