Vectorize An Image In Photoshop

How To Vectorize an Image | Photoshop Tutorial

How to Vectorize an image in Photoshop’. Really? Yes, it is. If you are a Photoshop user but do not know how to use Adobe Illustrator, this tutorial is for you. You can convert a Raster image into Vector amazingly and the look is quite satisfying. Inserting multiple colors in a Vector image is a little more difficult than a single-colored subject. So, we will go with that some other time. But, here, we are about to discuss converting a raster image into Vector in Photoshop. This will be easy and interesting. So, without any further ado, let’s begin.

Table of Content

  • What is Vector?
  • Conversion of Raster to Vector
  • Uses
  • Conclusion
  • FAQ

What is Vector?

In the amazing world of graphic editing, Vector is an artwork created by lines and colors. And, this kind of artwork does not contain any pixel. So, how big or small you make the image, it never loses details. Vector artworks are important for industrial production purposes. Also, for advertisements where you need to use huge images as a presentation, Vector is the option. However, this is a creative work that is better in Adobe Illustrator. But, we will do vectorize in photoshop in the conversion of a Raster image. The result may not be as good as Illustrator but good enough for Photoshop.

Conversion of Raster to Vector (How To Vectorize An Image)

The conversion of Raster to Vector is very simple but technical in terms. So, you need to follow every step properly and do not miss one. Otherwise, the result may not be satisfactory or not even close to the targeted graphics. For the time being, we will go with complex vectorization processes. You can skip some steps for simple subjects with a single color.

Step 1: Choosing A High-Resolution Image

sample image (How To Vectorize An Image In Photoshop)
vectorization an image in photoshop

Image source: Pixabay

The image resolution is one of the most important things for Vector conversion. And, the image should be 300 pixels and the height of the landscape image should be 2000 pixels or more. As I am using an image with low resolution, it needs to increase. So, go to Image>Image size and make the changes as below. From Photoshop CC2019 or upper versions, you can have an additional option for better increase. The option is ‘Preserve Details 2.0. Check out our tutorial, “Low-Resolution to High-Resolution Graphics In Photoshop Tutorial”. And, you will have a better understanding. Press OK to continue.

the image should have high-resolution
vectorization an image in photoshop

Step 2: Isolating The Subject

The subject needs to separate from the background for further operation. You can use any selection tool that suits the subject. The pen tool is the best option for the subject with hard edges. And, you can make a precise selection. For the image, I am using the ‘Select & Mask’ option for convenience. We have a tutorial named ‘How to make the background transparent in Photoshop”. And, you can have ideas on isolating the subject in many ways. Choose the output option ‘New Layer’ and press OK to continue.

isolating the subject (How To Vectorize An Image In Photoshop)
vectorization an image in photoshop

Step 3: Oil Paint Filter (How To Vectorize An Image)

Now we have the subject in a new layer. And, we will add ‘Oil Paint Filter’ on that. You can have the option in Filter>Stylize>Oil Paint or in some Photoshop versions Filter>Oil Paint.

oil paint filter
vectorization an image in photoshop

Step 4: Set Values for Oil Paint Filter

Enter Oil Paint filter and set values as below. All the options control individual changes to the subject. Here, the shine value is the unit that controls the oil detail. You can follow the values as mentioned or you can use Photoshop Action to do that. Well, the action is from the ‘Pixibu’ Youtube channel. You can download it from the link below.

[Oil Paint Filter Action]

Just add this to your action panel and click the top layer then play. You can have all these settings automatically.

set values for oil paint filter (How To Vectorize An Image In Photoshop)
vectorization an image in photoshop

Step 5: Desaturate The Image (How To Vectorize An Image)

For this purpose, you need to take away the colors of the subject. So, go to Image>Adjustments>Desaturate. Or, you can use Ctrl/Command+Shift+U for Win or MAC. both the procedure do the same.

desaturate the image
vectorization an image in photoshop

Step 6: Levels And Posterizing

After desaturating the subject, it is time to adjust Levels and Posterizing. The Levels adjustment layer is to set the black and white percentage. And, Posterizing is to determine the black and white tones you want to use in the subject. For example, if you input the value ‘2’, you will have black and white only. If it is ‘3’, you will have black, white, and grey. We use the value 4 and adjust the levels to add more white to the subject. You can add both of them from the Adjustment layer option. Mask them both with the topmost layer. Change the layer name to ‘Base’.

levels and posterizing (How To Vectorize An Image In Photoshop)
vectorization an image in photoshop

Step 7: Oil Paint Filter Again (How To Vectorize An Image)

Before using Oil Paint Filter Again, you need to merge all layers. Select the Pestorize layer to the Base Layer by pressing the shift key. Right-click on the selection and choose to Merge Layers. Then, apply the Oil Paint Filter again. This time, change the values as below image. Click OK to continue. Also, you can add this filter with the action that we mentioned before.

oil paint filter again
vectorization an image in photoshop

Step 8: Vectorizing Highlights

Double click on the Base Layer and choose Blending Options. Move the slider of the black area to the right to hide all the dark areas. Click OK to continue.

vectorizing highlights 1 (How To Vectorize An Image In Photoshop)
vectorization an image in photoshop

Select the Base Layer and use Ctrl/Command+J for Win or MAC to make a copy. Convert the copy to a smart object by right-clicking on the layer and select ‘Convert to Smart Object’. Press and hold Ctrl/Command for Win or MAC and click on the thumbnail to make a selection.

vectorizing highlights 2
vectorization an image in photoshop

Choose any selection tool and right-click on the selection and choose to Make Work Path. keep Tolerance to 1.5 and click OK to continue. And, you will have the path.

vectorizing highlights 3 (How To Vectorize An Image In Photoshop)
vectorization an image in photoshop

Add a solid color adjustment layer with the color white. Click OK to continue. And, you will have the highlights.


vectorizing highlights 4
vectorization an image in photoshop


Change the name of the solid color layer ‘Highlights’ and delete the duplicate Base Layer. Hide the Highlights Layer and move on to the next steps.

Step 8: Midtone 1, Midtone 2, Shadow (How To Vectorize An Image)

For this step, you need to repeat the same procedure as the above step. The only difference is, you need to move the slider of the blend if every time you work on other tones. See the below image. Moving the slider to the left you can have the Light Grey color that is Midtone 1. If you move more, you will see the Dark Grey color that is Midtone 2. And, at the end of the left, you have Black which is Shadow.


midtone 1, midtone 2, shadow (How To Vectorize An Image In Photoshop)
vectorization an image in photoshop


And, follow the below steps each time you work on individual tones.

  1. Blend if by double-clicking on the Base Layer
  2. Copy the layer by pressing Ctrl/Command+J for Win/MAC
  3. Convert the copy into a smart object
  4. Make a selection by pressing Ctrl/Command for Win or MAC and clicking on the layer thumbnail
  5. Create a clipping path by right-clicking on the selection and choose ‘Make Work Path’. Tolerance 1.5
  6. Fill the path with a solid color adjustment layer to create a Vector Layer. Choose different colors for each tone. For Shadow, select black color
  7. Delete the Base Layer copy
  8. Hide new Path Layer and show Base Layer to move to the next Path Layer

Or, you can use an action to do the same. Just download the action from below and load this in your Photoshop Actions. Run each action of the action set at a time over the Base Layer. If you already created the Highlights Layer, skip this action and star with the Midtone 1.

[Vectorizer With Blend If Action]

Step 9: Making A Group

As we have 4 separate Vector layers, we can make a group with them. Unhide all the Vector layers and hide any other layers you have. To select layers, you can press and hold Ctrl/Command for Win/MAC and click each layer individually. Also, you can select the top layer and hold the Shift key then click on the fourth layer to select all. So, select the first Vector Layer to the forth and use Ctrl/Command+G for Win/MAC. Or, you can select them and click and drag to the folder icon at the bottom of the Layers panel. Also, you can right-click after selecting the layers and choose ‘Group From Layers’. All the procedures do the same. Now, you have a complete Vector group. You can stop right here or go further if you want to. So, we will go for a few steps more.


making a group
vectorization an image in photoshop


Step 10: Changing Color Of A Vector Layer (How To Vectorize An Image)

To change the color of a vector layer, you need to double-click on the small sign of the layer thumbnail. And, this will show the color panel. You can choose any color that you want to apply and hit OK to continue. But, it is better to leave the highlights and shadows as they are. So, you can change any other from the mid-tones.

changing color of a vector layer (How To Vectorize An Image In Photoshop)
vectorization an image in photoshop

Step 11: Specific Area Color Change

If you need to change the color of any specific area, choose the vector layer first. We are applying color on ‘Midtones 2’. See the below image. First, add a new layer above the Midtones 1 layer and add the Clipping Mask. You can press and hold Alt/Option for Win/MAC and click between these layers. Or, you can right-click on the blank layer and choose ‘Add Clipping Mask’. Then, take the Brush tool and select a color you like. Brush on a specific area and you will find the color is limited to the specific vector layer. For reference, we are using bright colors only. You can choose any color you want.

specific area color change
vectorization an image in photoshop

Step 12: Add Stroke (How To Vectorize An Image)

As we are done with the actual vectorization, it is time to add a stroke. Just double-click on the ‘Shadow’ layer and click on Stroke. Use Size 8 pixels and Position outside. Click OK to continue. Now, the subject is ready with vector lines and color. Use the transform tool by Ctrl/Command+T for Win/MAC. Now resize the subject as you want and check if it is working or not. No, worries, it will work beautifully if you follow every step properly. Finally, save the image in PSD format.

add stroke (How To Vectorize An Image In Photoshop)
vectorization an image in photoshop


So, here is our image after vectorizing. No matter how big or small you make the artwork, it will never pixilated. You can follow the steps and convert any image to a vector with an artistic look. If you use one color, the operation is less lengthy. And, if you use more color, you can have an image with more details and arts.

sample image (after)
Vectorize An Image In Photoshop


The uses of converting an image to Vector format are a couple of. As this is artwork, the format is with a sketch look. However, for industrial purposes, vector work is highly important. Generally, professional graphic designers use Illustrator for the best results. But, using Photoshop to create a Vector is the art of editing. You can do it with Photoshop if you do not have Illustrator or do not know the software well. And, you can use this image anywhere you need as Vector.


Vectorizing images in photoshop is an additional option. If you use a single color for vectorization, the process will be less complicated. But, it works beautifully. Make sure to check the image after completing the editing. Otherwise, you may lack a step that could ruin your great effort. So, if you want to use Photoshop to create a vector format, follow the steps properly and that’s it.


How do I vectorize an image in Photoshop 2020?

Ans: Vectorization in Photoshop 2020 is the same as Photoshop CC2019. So, you can convert any raster image to vector easily.

How do you vector an image?

Ans: To vector an image, you need to follow simple steps as we mentioned in this tutorial. Just make sure to work on each step properly and you are good to go.