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How to turn vector brushes into real vector shapes in Photoshop and Illustrator

You may have downloaded some of the vector Photoshop brushes from In obscuro or some other web site, and after trying them out felt dissappointed that they didn't scale rike real vectors. But, you can easily turn them to vectors with some basic tools.

Adobe Photoshop

Pick a vector brush and stamp it on a separate layer. Here is an example from my set Swirly ornaments 2.

Vector brush

Select the Magic Wand tool Magic Wand Tool, make sure Anti-alias option is checked and Tolerance set to zero, and click on the shape. You should have it selected like this:

Vector brush selected

With the shape still selected, switch from the Layers window to Path by clicking on the Path tab. Next, click on the "Make work path from selection" icon (see image). It will create a vector shape following your brush shape closely, and this shape will now be in the layers palette named "Work Path", but you can rename it if you wish.

Paths palette

Now, pick the Path Selection tool Path Selection Tool and click on the path, and press Ctrl+T to transform it. Drag the handles until you resize it to the point where all the points are visible.

Vector path resized

Now, as you can see for yourself, this path is not even remotely clean so you will have to remove a lot of points and if needed adjust the handles, and I leave this part up to you.

Adobe Illustrator

Before you begin, you need to make a transparent PNG-24 image of your brush, so do that in Photoshop, and then open Illustrator.

Create a new document in Illustrator and then import your image (File > Place...). You will now see a Live Trace button at the top of the window - click it.

Live Trace

You can adjust settings until you get the best result. When you're satisfied, click on the Expand button and it will separate the shape from the background. Select only this shape and copy to a new file so you can use it later. That's it!

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Branding & web design by Nela Dunato

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