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Creating Photoshop Shapes From Illustrator Drawings


November 26th 2004
February 27th 2009

Read This First...

As long as you have both Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator installed on your system, it is easy to create Photoshop shapes from any drawing in Illustrator. Even before we start exploring further, you should read this:

  • Most Photoshop shapes are simple outlines with single color fills - so that's what your Illustrator drawings should be in the first place.

  • Dingbat fonts make great Photoshop shapes - you can use Font Xplorer to export them as vectors to the clipboard - and then bring them into Illustrator.

  • This tutorial will not work if Illustrator's clipboard export format is set to the default PDF option - choose Edit | Preferences | File Handling and Clipboard to make sure that AICB is also selected (see screenshot).

    AICB stands for Adobe Illustrator Clipboard format.

  • If you are using CorelDRAW or Macromedia Freehand, you can still use this tutorial - look here for more info...


From Illustrator to Photoshop

  1. Open an existing drawing in Illustrator or create a simple outline. Select the shape and choose Edit | Copy...

  2. Launch Photoshop if it is not already open. Make sure you have an image or a blank canvas open in Photoshop and choose Edit | Paste...

    Photoshop will show you a dialog box that asks you to choose the format of the pasted outline - choose the Shape Layer option.

  3. With the Shape layer selected, choose Edit | Define Custom Shape...

    Photoshop will prompt you to name the shape - give it a unique name and the Shape becomes part of your Shape Library. From this Library, you can bring the Shape into any Photoshop document.

You can create your own custom shape libraries that you can share, store and distribute - look here for more info...


Using CorelDRAW or Macromedia Freehand

Although this tutorial works best with Adobe Illustrator, you can also use CorelDRAW or Macromedia Freehand to replicate the steps. For these programs to work, you have to find a way to export the graphic to the clipboard in the AICB format so that Photoshop provides you with an option to paste as a shape.

CorelDRAW: Users of CorelDRAW versions 10, 11 and 12 can use the free macros you can download at the Oberon site to copy to the clipboard in the AICB format.

Macromedia Freehand: Macromedia Freehand users can use the Edit | Copy Special... option to export the outline graphic as an Adobe Illustrator (AICB) file.


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