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How to turn a JPEG into a vector file with photoshop

Updated June 15, 2017

Transforming a JPEG image into a vector image in Photoshop allows you to create an infinitely scalable image. This is practical for images, such as logos, that need to be used in many different sizes. With a vector image, you can resize it without having to worry about pixelation, as you would with JPEGs.

Find the JPEG you want to edit on your computer and open it in Photoshop. If you do not already have the image on your computer, you will need to scan it, which is illustrated in the following steps.

Place the image you want to scan facedown on the scanner.

Select "File>Import>TWAIN Acquire" in Photoshop. This software extension allows Photoshop to operate your scanner.

Adjust the settings of the scan until it is appropriate. The image should be at least 300 dpi, which creates enough data to allow the image to be altered without decreasing image quality.

Click the "Scan" button, and select "JPEG" as a file type. Photoshop will automatically name the file "Untitled." Open this image in Photoshop.

Select the "Pen" tool from the toolbar on the left hand side, or press "P." This tool allows you to create a work path, from which the vector will be created.

Trace a path around the image using a pen tool. This process will take some time, as each part of the image must be traced individually. Tracing works best on simple images with clearly defined edges, like text.

Save the file when the path is created by clicking "Export" under File and choose "Paths to Illustrator." This will create an Adobe Illustrator file, which can then be opened with that program and edited further.

Tip

The path can be adjusted to create curves, such as adjusting the two "handles" that pop up after you create a point.

Warning

This process creates only the outline of your image along the path you select. It will not contain any colour data, unless you add some.

Things You'll Need

  • Computer with a copy of Photoshop
  • JPEG image
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About the Author

Alexander Rudinski has been writing professionally since 2008. His work appears on the Nerve website, where he continues to work as a photographer and writer. Rudinski has a Bachelor of Science in communications, concentrating on documentary video, photography and professional writing. He graduated from the University of the Arts, Philadelphia.