Adobe, this should be much easier than it actually is.

Say you’ve drawn an object in Illustrator and what to use it in Photoshop without flattening it to a bitmap.

So you hit File > Export, choose Photoshop format and make sure to select “Maximum Editability.”

You’ll likely get the following result. Paths have been converted to bitmap layers, in spite of your best efforts.

Flattened art

Unfortunate, and probably a bug. We can wait for Adobe to fix their code (stop laughing!) or figure out a workaround. Creative Suite users, this is what I have accomplished for you.

To ensure paths are maintained, you need to convert every standard path into a compound path. In order to prevent this trick from creating any visible effect, we’ll use a very small path — I prefer a one-pixel square, but in these examples I’ve gone a bit larger so you can see what’s going on — and combine it with the standard path using a live Add pathfinder operation. It’s important that you use the live version of this operation — otherwise you’ll just end up with the same standard path with which you started and you’ll continue to get bitmap results on export.

After a few Add pathfinder operations, you’ll get something like this:

Export this art, and you’ll get the desired shape layers.

So, why is Photoshop more consistently able to convert complex paths into Shape Layers while choking on the most basic sort of Illustrator art? Without getting into the technical details, this is the best explanation I’ve been able to find.


February 16, 2012