How to vectorize an image in Photoshop 2022

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vectorize-an-image-in-photoshop | A vectorized image of a tiger.
Credit: Adobe

If you have no idea how to vectorize an image in Photoshop, we're here to help.

Vectorizing an image in Photoshop is an excellent way to make your artwork more scalable. It allows you to improve the quality of the image, reduce its file size, and edit or change the color, shape, and other elements that you want.


In this post, we are going to teach you how to vectorize an image in Photoshop. Let's get started!

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How to vectorize a raster or color image in Photoshop

Vectorizing an image in Photoshop is a complicated and tedious process. However, if you are dealing with a simple image with one or two colors, it can be done in a matter of minutes. Here is a video tutorial that will help you.

But if you are dealing with a more complex image with more colors, you may have to use a different method which is very time-consuming. Once you have mastered the process, you’ll be able to speed up your workflow dramatically.

So, here are the steps to vectorize a raster or color image in Photoshop:

Create the vector effect

  • Open your image in Photoshop and use any selection tool to select your object. For more accurate selection, use the pen tool.
  • After that, click on the Mask icon in the Layers panel to isolate your object.
  • Now, click on the lock icon next to the Background layer to unlock it.
  • Select both layers by holding the Ctrl key and then right-click to select the Convert to Smart Object option.
  • Double-click the layer in the Layers panel to open it in a new window. Press Ctrl + S keys to save it. Then, close the mart object to get back to the main document.
  • Now, select the layer, and then go to Filter > Sharpen > Unsharp Mask. Change Amount to 150, Radius to 1.5, and Threshold to 0. Then, click OK to save the changes.
  • Next, with your layer selected, go to Filter > Stylize > Diffuse. Change Mode to Anisotropic and click OK.
  • Press Alt + Ctrl + F keys to apply the Diffuse filter again.
  • Again, go to Filter > Stylize > Oil Paint. Change Stylization to 3.5, Cleanliness to 2, Scale to 0.1, Bristle Detail to 0.0, and uncheck Lighting.
  • Now, with your layer selected, go to Filter > Blur > Smart Blur. Change the Radius to 50, the Threshold to 15, and then click OK.
  • Again, go to Filter > Blur and choose Surface Blur. Change the Radius to 15, the Threshold to 10, and then click OK.
  • Next, select the layer, and then go to Filter > Sharpen > Unsharp Mask. Change Amount to 250, Radius to 5, and then click OK.
  • Finally, go to Filter > Filter Gallery and choose the Cutout filter under the Artistic folder. Change the Number of Levels to 8, Edge Simplicity to 4, and Edge Fidelity to 1.

Vectorize everything

  • First, go to Image > Mode > Indexed Color. Change Colors to 16 and click OK.
  • We need to isolate the 16 colors and convert them into shapes. To do that:
    • Go to Image > Mode > RGB Color. Then, go to Select > Color Range. Change Select to Sampled Colors and make sure Fuzziness is set to 0 and Selection is checked.
    • Pick any color from your image and click OK. That specific color will be selected all over your image.
    • With your layer selected, press the Delete key to remove the selected color.
    • Then, go to the Paths panel and convert this selection into a path by clicking the crosshair icon at the bottom.
    • After that, get back to the Layers panel and create a Solid Color layer by clicking on the half-filled circle icon at the bottom.
  • Repeat the above sub-steps until all 15 colors are converted into shape layers.

Export to Illustrator

  • Now you have 16 customized shape layers. Let's export this to Illustrator or any vector software.
  • To do that, go to File > Save As. Change the Save as type to EPS and then click Save.
  • Make sure Include Vector Data is checked.

Now you have your vector image. Open the file on Illustrator and modify the fully editable vector image as you like. It will take a lot of practice and patience to master the technique of making a vector illustration.

Before you leave, have a look at how to lock a layer in Photoshop.