When working in the Adobe software family, it's fairly easy to convert an Illustrator file (with the .AI extension) into a Photoshop file (with the .PSD extension). This allows designers and artists to take advantage of each program's unique capabilities. Below, we've shared the essential steps to convert AI to PSD, so you can transfer a project into Photoshop without any loss of quality.
Paths, Groups, and Layers
First, it's important to note that Illustrator projects are generally separated into paths and groups. Paths are the individual vector shapes that make up a graphic, while groups are a folder of paths that can be edited all at once. However, when you convert AI to PSD, your individual paths will not be transferred as individual Photoshop layers. Instead, you need to create Illustrator layers and group the paths inside them as you see fit.
To make a new Illustrator layer, first enable the Layers panel if it isn't visible ("Window" > "Layers"), and then click the "New Layer" icon at the bottom (it looks like a tiny piece of paper with one corner folded over). You can drag any paths into the new layer, so this gives you the flexibility to create layers for every individual path, or collect multiple paths into one layer.
Exporting the Project
Once you've collected your paths into layers, it's time to export the Illustrator file and save it as a PSD. Select "File" > "Export" to bring up the main Export menu, where you can name the new file and choose where it's saved. Then, click on the Format submenu to bring up a variety of file formats, including PNG, BMP, AutoCAD Drawing, and Flash. Select "Photoshop (psd)" from the list, and then click "Export".
Choosing the Export Settings
Now, another dialog box will appear called "Photoshop Export Options", with advanced settings that affect color, resolution, layers, and more. In the Color Model menu, make sure that "RGB" is selected from the list. Next, choose "Screen (72 ppi)" from the Resolution section. Finally, select "Write Layers" and "Maximum Editability" from the Options section, so that your Photoshop file has the separate layers that you organized in Illustrator. Click OK to create the PSD file.
Working in Photoshop
When you launch the new file in Photoshop, all of your layers will be totally visible, including sections that previously stretched beyond the boundaries of your Illustrator artboard. To replicate the Illustrator project, just create a new Photoshop project with the same dimensions, and then drag your converted Illustrator file into the blank layer.