How to move from Illustrator to Photoshop without rasterizing (the easy way)

I’ve always had trouble getting large groups of shapes from Illustrator over to Photoshop without rasterizing them all in the process. Up until recently the only way I knew how was to copy and paste each shape one by one – a process which soon becomes tedious.

However, recently I discovered a method which takes less than a minute, regardless of how many shapes there are in your file. The only catch is that it involves using Adobe Fireworks.

Here’s a simple three step guide on how it’s done.


Step 1

Once you’re ready to convert your Illustrator file into a fully editable PSD make sure all strokes are outlined. To do this select all of your strokes and click Object > Path > Outline Stroke.  Don’t worry about text as it will remain editable across all formats.

After you’ve done that open your Illustrator file in Adobe Fireworks and the following dialogue box will appear:

Step 1

 Make sure all of your settings match the image above and click OK.


Step 2

Now that you have your file open in Fireworks you can convert it to a PSD by clicking File > Save As and then selecting the format Photoshop PSD (.psd) from the dropdown menu.

Step 2

Once you’ve done that, click Options and make sure Maintain Edibility over Appearance is selected from the dropdown menu.

Step 2

Click OK followed by Save and then select where you want to save your file.


Step 3

Find your recently saved PSD, open it up in Photoshop and there we have it – a fully editable PSD in a matter of seconds.

Step 3

Don’t forget if you need a something a little more organised you can rename your layers or paths at any time.

Did you find this helpful or do you have an alternative trick up you sleeve? What other tips would you share for working with Illustrator and Photoshop? Let us know in the comments.

  • Daniele Pavinato

    Interesting! Good post!

  • Tristan Duncan

    If you want anything on a single layer – like a logo, graphic etc – the easiest way is to simply copy it in illustrator, then paste it into photoshop. When you paste you’ll get a window pop up with the option to paste as a smart object.

    Alternatively if you have followed the tutorial above and want to merge all the paths into a single layer, in CS6 you can merge shape layers as you would merge any layer – it retains the paths.

  • email to fax

    Thank you

  • Sam Jones

    Hey Ryan, this method is best for shapes that are one single path. Unfortunately it appears to rasterize ‘groups’ of shapes rather than merging them into one shape layer, which is a shame.

  • Smum Dax

    I like the “Maintain Edibility over Appearance” because everytime I said to my fellow designers that I love my shapes so much I could eat them, they thought I was crazy… finally someone that likes them like I do ! ;)
    PS: great article btw

  • thelogodesigner

    Good read, Thanks for sharing.

  • Dario

    Use Fireworks. Simplest thing.
    Adobe, give it back to us, you never understood a thing anyway.

  • jaystrab

    Adobe has touted for years how seamless the integration is between its apps. I have yet to see ANYTHING that is seamless between ANY of it’s apps. Nothing works the way it should. Macromedia did a better job between FreeHand and Fireworks than Adobe is doing between any of its apps.
    Someone must crush that company.

  • abkimmortal

    Simply Great ! :)


    Why not just export from AI to PSD?

  • jon raymen

    I used this method to convert inDesign > PSD — and it worked!!! Cut and paste your whole page design straight into illustrator from indesign, then sequence build your layers and follow the above ——— BOOM!!!
    Been trying to work this out for ages,
    Thanks Sam.

  • Rok

    Thanks for this tip, been searching for a way to do this for some time :)

  • Hadulu

    I’ve been having problems exporting directly from AI to PSD but this worked flawlessly all the way to china! Thanks! o/

  • tombre

    you are my hero! been searching some method like this for years… it needs some edits of layers in illu, ungrouping and so on, but still, 10000x quicker than drag and drop every layer. managed to export 50 layers or so from illu to ps with only some minor color bugs.

  • VJ Design

    IT WOOOOOORRRRKKKSSSS!!! Thanks a lot man!