Illustrator Tutorial - Export Illustrator files into Photoshop                       

As Illustrator is a vector-based program, it has many vector drawing tools that are superior to those found in Photoshop.  Similarly, Photoshop contains many features - layer effects, filters etc. - that either don't exist in Illustrator, or are a messy work-around (Drop Shadow, for example).

Is there a way to take an Illustrator (.ai) file into Photoshop and still keep it fully editable?

Many graphic artists start working in Illustrator and find themselves wanting to work with their files in Photoshop to run filters, add layer effects like embossing, drop shadows and more.

The simple, and painfully obvious, way to do it is to export your Illustrator file as a Photoshop document. Here’s how.

Take your carefully crafted Illustrator file with all its layers intact (remember to name those layers for easy editing later). As you can see in the sample image below (we've used the layers from the 3D Bottle tutorial):

In Illustrator, go to FILE...Export and browse to where you want to save your Illustrator file.  In the 'Save as type' box, use the drop-down and select Photoshop [*PSD] option.
A dialog box will open containing the export options. Since we want to keep the file editable, we’re going to click the Write Layers radio button. This will tell Illustrator to maintain the layers you have set when exporting to the Photoshop format.

You also need to click the Maximum Editablity checkbox. This will not only keep your text fully editable, but also maintain any layer transparency you have set in Illustrator. It is also recommended that you to check the Anti-alias check box, and don’t forget to set your resolution to High for print work, or Screen for Web work.

Your Illustrator file is now a native, layered Photoshop file. Open your newly exported file in Photoshop and you’ll see that the layers are named just as they were in Illustrator, the text is editable and the layers maintain their transparency (where you created them in Illustrator).

While Photoshop’s Smart Objects feature is a great way to place images into Photoshop by copying and pasting an Illustrator image into Photoshop, while still allowing you to edit them in Illustrator and have the changes automatically reflect in your Photoshop document, it still requires you to “build” your document over again as far as size, placement and so forth. This simple method is perfect for Web designers who do their mockups in Illustrator before finishing the files and splicing images in Photoshop.

Placing an Image in Illustrator

Sometimes you may have manipulated an image and saved it as, say, a GIF or jpeg, and then want to bring it into Illustrator.  This is where you use FILE...Place.

A good example of this is the 'Marlboro' package where the 'crest' was manipulated in Photoshop, saved as a GIF to preserve transparency and 'Placed' in the Illustrator-created package.

Find the image you want to place and select it. If you want to link the image to the document, select the “Link” box. If you want to embed the image, uncheck the “Link” box.

Remember that if you do link your image, you must include the image file when you send the file out to be printed or when your final Illustrator image is created.  In addition, including 'linked' files cause problems when you create Symbols.

See how to Export Photoshop files into Illustrator.
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