How to Convert from Image to Vector

17Unlike picture images, vector graphics can be scaled, rotated and skewed without distortion. The following information will explain how to convert jpg to vector in Photoshop.

Step 1

Determine which portion of the jpg file you want to change. Pick only specific portions of the image. Unless you have a very powerful computer, the conversion will take too long. You can always convert the other image parts later. In this example you will be converting a hat into vector.

Step 2

Open the jpg file in Photoshop. Go to the Image menu and select Adjustments. Enable the preview option in Brightness/Contrast. Slide the Contrast button to the right. Adjust the contrast and brightness so the hat becomes distinct from the other parts of the image.

Step 3

Go to the Tool Bar and select the Magic Wand tool. Adjust the tolerance level to 10 before clicking the hat. If you used enough contrast, the entire hat will be selected.

If the Wand doesn’t select the whole object, increase the tolerance level. If other parts are selected, lower the tolerance level. If the Magic Wand is still unable to select the entire hat, use the Magnetic Lasso tool. This is also at the Tool Bar.

Step 4

Before you can convert jpg to vector, you have to make a working path. Go to Window then Paths. Select “Make work path from selection.”

Step 5

Click File, Export and choose “Paths to Illustrator.” Enter a name for the file and decide where to save it. Press OK. The image will be changed into an Adobe Illustrator (.ai) vector file. You can now use the file in Illustrator and other vector applications.


You can use the same process to convert other formats like bmp, tiff, pcx and other image formats. While Photoshop can do the job, you should get a dedicated tracer if you do it a lot. The converted file will have little resemblance to the original image. But you can touch it up in your vector program.

Other Options

There are other tracing programs available. Some are available for free on the Net. Others are shareware. The programs have different features. But the basic process is the same. Once you launch the program, open Windows Explorer. Drag the image into the conversion window. The conversion should proceed automatically.

In some programs, you have to load the image and make a path. Next you will choose a vector format. The tracing will now start.

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