Export Photoshop Paths to Illustrator

At times you may need to combine your artwork from Photoshop with Illustrator. I received queries from readers asking how to export custom shapes created in Photoshop to Illustrator. So I thought of writing a tutorial explaining how to Export Photoshop Paths to Illustrator. I know two methods of doing this. One way is drag and drop, it is simple but not how you think it is. Hold your curiosity for few seconds. The other way is using the ‘Paths To Illustrator’ command of the ‘Export’ feature.

NOTE: I am using CS5 versions of both Photoshop and Illustrator. But this method should work in any version lower than CS5.

Drag and Drop method:

Well there is a little twist to the drag and drop method as you cannot use the Move tool (V) to drag and drop but the Path Selection tool lets you do that. Let us see how.

1. Launch Photoshop and create a new document (Ctrl + N or File > New) of a desired size.

2. Create a custom shape. Custom shape can be created using the custom shapes tool in Photoshop, or create one on your own. The color of the shape does not matter since we will be exporting only the paths in Illustrator. For this tutorial, I am using the ‘Eighth Note’ from the ‘Music collection’ of custom shapes.

Custom shape

3. Make sure your custom shape layer is selected in the Layers Palette.

Layers palette

4. Choose the Path Selection tool from the Toolbox.


5. Now simply select the shape and drag and drop onto your Illustrator document. The vector paths would look like this;

These vector paths are fully editable in Illustrator.

Export Paths to Illustrator method:

1. Follow steps 1-3 given above.

2. Go to File > Export > Paths to Illustrator…

Export menu

In the Export Paths to File dialog box, choose Shape 1 Vector Mask and click OK.

Export paths to file dialog box

Choose a location for the exported path and enter a file name.

3. Now launch Illustrator and open the file you saved earlier (Ctrl + O or File > Open and then browse to the folder).

4. The document may look blank when it opens, but use the Selection tool to drag a selection and that would select the object.

Paths exported in Illustrator

Now you can edit these paths (using the anchor point tools) as any other vector paths in Illustrator.

Filed Under: Adobe IllustratorAdobe Photoshop


About the Author: Minal is a freelance web and graphics designer. She specializes in designing Logos, Stationery, Graphics and Icons as well as website templates using graphical tools like Photoshop, Illustrator and Expression Web. Twitter @saffronstroke

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