Import artwork from Photoshop

You can bring artwork from Photoshop (PSD) files into Illustrator using the Open command, the Place command, the Paste command, and the drag-and-drop feature.

Illustrator supports most Photoshop data, including layer comps, layers, editable text, and paths. This means that you can transfer files between Photoshop and Illustrator without losing the ability to edit the artwork. For easy transfer of files between the two applications, adjustment layers that have visibility turned off are imported (though inaccessible) into Illustrator and restored when exported back to Photoshop.

Spot colors (up to 31 spot channels per file) import as a single N‑Channel raster image, which is placed over the process color image. The spot colors are added to the swatches panel as custom colors with the same name as in Photoshop. Imported spot colors separate correctly.

Duotone PSD files import as flat raster images with a 256‑indexed colorspace and an N‑Channel colorspace containing all of the duotone inks. Because Illustrator uses an N‑Channel, blending mode interactions set in Photoshop may appear differently in Illustrator. Ink colors from old color libraries are set to gray.

In cases where Illustrator must convert the Photoshop data, a warning message appears. For example, when importing a 16‑bit Photoshop file, Illustrator warns you that the image will be imported as an 8‑bit, flat composite.

Photoshop import options

When you open or place a Photoshop file that contains multiple layers, you can set the following options:

Layer Comp

If the Photoshop file contains layer comps, specifies which version of the image to import. Select Show Preview to display a preview of the selected layer comp. The Comments text box displays comments from the Photoshop file.

When Updating Link

Specifies how to handle layer visibility settings when updating a linked Photoshop file that includes layer comps.

Keep Layer Visibility Overrides

Updates the linked image based on the state of layer visibility in the layer comp when you originally placed the file.

Use Photoshop’s Layer Visibility

Updates the linked image based on the current state of layer visibility in the Photoshop file.

Convert Photoshop Layers To Objects And Make Text Editable Where Possible

Preserves as much layer structure and text editability as possible without sacrificing appearance. However, if the file includes features that Illustrator doesn’t support, Illustrator preserves the appearance of the artwork by merging and rasterizing layers. For example:

  • Layer sets that use the Dissolve blending mode as well as all layers in clipping masks get merged into single layers.

  • Adjustment layers and layers that use a Knockout option are merged with the underlying layers, as are layers that contain transparent pixels and use the Color Dodge, Color Burn, Difference, Linear Burn, Linear Dodge, Vivid Light, Linear Light, or Pin Light blending mode.

  • Layers that use layer effects may be merged; however, the specific merging behavior depends on the blending mode of the layer, the presence of transparent pixels, and the layer’s blending options.

  • Hidden layers that require merging are discarded.

note: The Convert Photoshop Layers To Objects And Make Text Editable Where Possible option is not available when you link to a Photoshop file.

Flatten Photoshop Layers To A Single Image And Preserve Text Appearance

Imports the file as a single bitmap image. The converted file retains no individual objects, except for the document clipping path (if one exists). Opacity is retained as part of the main image, but is not editable.

Import Hidden Layers

Imports all layers from the Photoshop file, even those that are hidden. This option is not available when linking to a Photoshop file.

Import Slices

Preserves any slices that are included in the Photoshop file. This option is available only when opening or embedding a file that includes slices.

Move part of an image from Photoshop to Illustrator

  1. In Photoshop, select the pixels you want to move. For more information, see Photoshop Help.

  2. Do one of the following:

    • Copy the selection in Photoshop and paste it in Illustrator. If a layer mask is active when you choose the Copy command, Photoshop copies the mask rather than the main layer.

    • Select the Move tool in Photoshop, and drag the selection to Illustrator. Illustrator fills transparent pixels with white.

Move paths from Photoshop to Illustrator

  1. In Photoshop, use the Path Component Selection tool or the Direct Selection tool to select the paths you want to move.

    You can select any path or path segment that appears in the Paths panel, including shape vector masks, work paths, and saved paths. For more information on selecting paths, see Photoshop Help.

  2. Either copy and paste or drag the path to Illustrator.

  3. In the Paste Options dialog box, choose whether to paste the path as a compound shape or a compound path. Pasting as a compound path is faster, but may result in some loss of editability.


    To import all paths (but no pixels) from a Photoshop document, choose File > Export > Paths To Illustrator (in Photoshop). Then open the resulting file in Illustrator.


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