How to open an ai or eps file in Photoshop

How to 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.

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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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(+add yours)
  1. Also, a simple method is to just drag and drop the vector from Ai to Ps.

    • Steven

      Wow! You are a genious!

  2. @Dan Hi,

    This tutorial is thought in particular for those who haven’t Illustrator

  3. Pretty Nice

    i know this Technique Before

  4. a great tutorial, many thanks for sharing.

  5. sera

    Thanks a lot ,Sebastiano!
    I have visited your website for a long time and learned many knowledge.It’s very useful.

  6. Clay

    If you have Illustrator and want to work with a vector in photoshop simply copy and paste it as a smart object into photoshop (make as large as you want without distortion, and you can double click the smart object and it will open back in illustrator, make any revisions and save close file and your revision will be adjusted in photoshop). IE works great for sharp paths on outlined text (object, path, offset path) to get a clean offset path – this way you can paste it into photoshop as a shape layer and voila, another tip for copying and pasting vectored text into photoshop, copy your first layer don’t adjust it just yet, then go back and copy the other layer and then paste it into photoshop, it should be centered for both shape layers, now you can adjust each layer for a cool result using layer styles.

  7. Plaid Gorilla Suit

    Yeah I don’t have AI and actually am using PS 7.0. (I know, ouch)
    I have had to be creative. I open the AI and EPS files, provided by my client, in Inkscape using a ghostscript plug in. I edit the vector there and then save as a EPS, PNG, or whatever and open it in Photoshop to do my design.

    I know I am doing it the hard way because I only have PS 7.0. But I am new to design and can’t afford CS 5 yet.

  8. Bob near Boston

    Thanks so much for the clear and simple explanation on how to “effectively preserve the vector nature” of an .eps file – by oversizing it on opening in Ps, then converting it to a smart object and resizing as needed.

  9. Sebastiano,
    Thank you very much for the technique and the explanation. My software resources are limited so learning to use vector graphics in PS is a big help.

  10. Thanks for the information. It is working fine.

  11. Eden

    you are sexy. thank you for info.

  12. Thank you soooo much you saved me hours of work, this is exactly what i was looking for.

    • Billy Corgan

      hours of work opening an eps in photoshop? lol

  13. great detailed article. a lot of newbies would benefit on this details as to when they need to rush projects for clients and are more familiar with photoshop than other adobe products

  14. Shari

    This information was exactly what I was trying to learn. Very clear and simple to understand. Thank you-

  15. Thank’s a lot for the tutorial.

    saved me a lot of time


  16. michael

    Does it work in CS6 Photoshop?

    • Inglneitelce and simplicity – easy to understand how you think.

  17. Thanks for this tutorial.

  18. Very good article. Written in simple terms. Newbies certainly come in handy.

    Greetings from the PL.

  19. Nope

    It doesn’t explain how to deal with vectors that have a background, and therefore can’t be simple copied and pasted from the file to a different color background.

  20. Rosa

    Hi! Thank you! This was very helpful!

  21. Away doorway i like this tool. But by and by it’s began to use down. I
    did find a way to surprise your cellular structure back, good since brand new.

  22. ubaid
  23. una

    Thank you very much. that was very useful. I have loads of .eps vector files and I never knew the best way of using them in Photoshop

  24. Thank you very much! I thought it would be more complicated :)

  25. Tea N.

    Thank you so much

  26. Thank you, Sebastiano. :)

    I’m waiting to buy illustrator and this is a much needed work-around technique.

    That step you showed where the smart object stayed clear, while the other, almost identical one blurred was especially helpful.

  27. Thanks for sharing nice tutorial you save my time.

    Thank you so much.


  28. Thanks for this great tutorial

  29. Vitthal

    Which/What types of vector graphics files created and saved in Corel Draw or Adobe Illustrator can be opened in Photoshop and be saved as jpeg/jpg following the tips/steps shown by you so that it avoids blur and pixelation?
    - VLG.

  30. Thanks for this amazing tutorial, It was very difficult for me to work with .eps file BUT this guide helped me a lot :D

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