open an ai or eps file in Photoshop

Many of you have asked me if it is possible to open and use our vector resources (.ai and .eps files) in Photoshop. Well, it is, even if with evident limits. In this brief tutorial I’ll show you how to manage vectors using Photoshop and which are the advantages of using a vector software like Illustrator to work with these kind of files.


Both with a Mac or a Pc, the process of opening a file with a specific software is the same. Just right-click on your .eps/.ai file and select “open with>Photoshop”. Since I’m a Mac user, I simply drag one of WeGraphics vector resources, Animal Skulls, over the Photoshop icon in my toolbar to open it. In the following example I’ve used an .ai file, but if you use an .eps one the process is almost the same.
At the end of this first step, this is what you should see (I’m using Photoshop CS4):
eps to photoshop

The most important thing to consider is the size. Vector objects are scalable, and this means that you can resize them at your pleasure – make them smaller and then enlarge them – without lose quality. But when you open a vector file in Photoshop, the vector will be turned into a raster image. So you won’t be able to resize them in according with your needs – you can make it smaller, but if you try to enlarge it the result won’t be so good…
This is why I suggest you to choose a very large size. In this case, since my aim is to use these vectors for the preview displayed in the resource page of the site (580×380 pixels), the default size works fine.

I’ve opened the vector file with Photoshop…and now?

Once opened the vector file with Photoshop, you’ll have all the objects on the same layer. If can select and move a single object, because they are all merged.
eps to photoshop
To extract and import one of the objects, simple grab a selection tool – in my case the Rectangular Marquee Tool – to select it, and press ctrl+C to copy it (cmd+C if you’re using a Mac).
eps to photoshop
Switch to the Photoshop document you’re working on – where you want to put in the (ex)vector file – and press ctrl+V to paste it (cmd+V for Mac users). In this way you’ve imported the object, extracting it from its original layer.
eps to photoshop
At this point, if you’re not sure about the desired final size of the object, I suggest to convert it into a smart object. To do it, right-click on the layer of the skull (in my case), in the layers window, and select “Convert to Smart Object”.
Why do I need to convert the (ex)vector into a smart object? In this way you are free to resize the (ex)vector at your pleasure, as if it is a vector.
eps to photoshop
Now that your object is a smart object, resize it all the necessary times, until you are satisfied with the result. To show you the importance of this step, let’s take a look at the following example. I’ve created 2 copies of the same skull. One of these, the one on the left, has been converted into a smart object. While the one on the right is a simple raster image. I’ve scaled down both the images. As you can notice, there is no difference for the moment:
eps to photoshop
Now let’s enlarge the two images. Something horrible happens to the image on the right!
eps to photoshop
This is why Smart Objects are so useful, because of their scalability. Now all what remains to do is to create a nice composition. Then you can use image adjustments (Image>Adjustments) and layer styles (Right-click>Blending options) to change image colors.
eps to photoshop
This is what I’ve obtained. By clicking on the image you will be redirected to the download page of the resource.
animal skulls

Why is it better to use a vector software?

By using a vector software like Adobe Illustrator to open .eps and, of course, .ai (Adobe Illustrator) files, there are several advantages. In example, your can modify the objects, not only resize them. You can eliminate some parts and add more details. Also the way to manage colors is different, it’s very simple to change colors – while in Photoshop it can results non so easy for a newbie – and to switch from flat colors to gradients. Finally, always take in mind that you can export an object from Illustrator to Photoshop, and the process is identical to the one explained in this tutorial. Select the object, pres ctrl+C to copy it, and ctrl+V to paste it into the Photoshop document. By saving the object as a smart object, you will be able to resize it without lose image quality.
eps to photoshop
We’ve finished guys. I hope you’ve understood something new. In case of doubts, you can use the comments.

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