How to vectorize an image in Photoshop

When you open an image in Photoshop, it is a bitmap image by default. Bitmap images are resolution dependent, meaning you cannot resize them without compromising the overall quality of the image. By changing an image to a vector image, you can negate this sizing issue. You can vectorize an image in Photoshop in six easy steps.
  1. Go to "Window" and find "Paths." Click it to pull up related options, of which you will have three. You can use the customary Pen tool, which allows you to create Bezier curves and straight lines over an image. If you wish to follow transitions of brightness and color within an image, select Magnetic Pen. If you would like to achieve a more natural and free-feeling drawing over which you can trace, use the Freeform option.
  2. Once you select your tool, create your vector tracks over the image. Press Enter when you are done tracing the adaptation of the shapes and paths over your image. Doing this will notify Photoshop you're at the end of your pathway.
  3. Use the Magic Wand, Lasso and Marquee tools to select additional pathways. Navigate to the "Paths" dropdown and select "Make Work Path" to change your selected paths into vector paths.
  4. Next, choose the tolerance setting for your pathways. Lower tolerance levels means you want to leave little room for fluctuation, while higher settings allow for smoother shifts between anchor points along the pathway.
  5. Be sure to double click the appropriate pathway designation that appears in the "Path" dropdown and either accept the default designation or rename each trail. Failure to do so will mean your vector drawings on the work path will be replaced as you continue to draw.
  6. So you can use your newly vectorized images in other programs, export your vector paths from Photoshop into Illustrator. You can do this by clicking "File"→"Export"→"Paths to Illustrator."
Congratulations! You now know how to turn a Photoshop image into a vector image. For ready-made vector images, visit our vector gallery.

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