How To Open SVG Files In Photoshop

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While Photoshop is not usually used to edit scalable vector graphics (SVG), it is useful to know how to open SVG files in Photoshop.

To open an SVG file as a rasterized layer, go to File > Open and select your SVG file. Alternatively, you can open an SVG as a vector by creating a new document, going to File > Place Embedded or Place Linked, and selecting the desired SVG file.

With these two methods to open SVG files, you can take advantage of raster or vector layers, so let’s get into this process more in-depth.

Option 1: Opening SVG Files As Rasterized Layers

To open your SVG file as a rasterized layer, select Open from Photoshop’s home screen. You can also navigate to File > Open or press Control + O (Win) or Command + O (Mac).

Once you locate your SVG file on your device and select Open, the Rasterize SVG Format window opens. Changing the width and height of the file may distort your image, but you can change the resolution if needed, although 300 pixels/inch usually works for most projects.

Once you select OK, the image will open as a rasterized layer. You can now edit it just like any other Photoshop layer.

Option 2: Opening SVG Files As A Vector File

To open an SVG file as a vector layer, create a blank document to place the vector layer on by going to File > New. Alternatively, press Control + N (Win) or Command + N (Mac).

Next, set the parameters for your document in the New Document window, and select Create when you’re happy with the document settings.

Once the document is created, navigate to File > Place Embedded or File > Place Linked. Both these options create the same vector layer with your SVG file. Then, select your SVG file from the window that opens and click on Place at the bottom right corner of the window.

Your file will now open as a vector layer, with the option to transform the layer. Click on the anchor points around the image and drag to increase or decrease the size of the vector image. Once you have resized the vector layer to your liking, press Enter to save your changes.

Your vector layer automatically becomes a smart object shown by the icon in the image thumbnail.

What’s The Difference When Working With These Layer Types?

A rasterized layer is different from a vector layer and will affect the editing capabilities of the image.

– Rasterized Layers

Rasterized layers are made up of pixels, with each pixel being a solid color. These images are found in various formats, including JPG, PNG, and GIF, among others.

Rasterized layers can be manipulated to a greater extent than vector layers, as each pixel can be altered with various Photoshop tools that affect the pixels.

Raster images become pixelated if they are scaled up beyond the capability of the image. This creates a blurred look, which is not desired in professional images.

– Vector Layers

Vector layers are made up of paths rather than pixels. These paths allow the image to be manipulated without decreasing the quality.

This allows designers to create logos and icons that can be blown up to large sizes while remaining sharp and clear. Vector formats include SVG, PDF, AI, and EPS.

Vector layers have limitations in Photoshop that prevent you from using certain tools and effects, which require you to rasterize the layer before using the tool.

If you don’t plan to scale the image any further, rasterizing a vector layer opens up more editing options. However, if you do need to scale your layer, make your adjustments on a separate layer so you don’t edit the vector file directly.

Happy Editing!

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I'm a Canadian photographer and photo retoucher turned founder of bwillcreative.com. Around here I help you to decode the mystery of photo editing with no-fluff videos and written guides to help you achieve your creative goals. Outside of shooting photos and my passion for educating, you'll find me mountain biking or on the trails with my dog, Sunny!

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