Combining Vectors and Rasters

A fun trend in the design world is to combine vectors with rasters (the box on Raster Images vs. Vector Images explains the difference); in other words, to combine illustrations with photographs, a technique that produces a unique look and lets you get incredibly creative. Because you can place vectors as smart objects (Using Smart Objects), they remain infinitely resizable, which lets you experiment with them as backgrounds, artful embellishments, and even ornamental photo frames. As you can see in Figure 7-26, adding vectors to photos is a ton of fun.

You can add vector art to images in a couple of ways:

  • Place it. With a document open, choose File→Place Embedded and find the vector file on your hard drive (these files are usually in EPS [Encapsulated PostScript] or AI [Adobe Illustrator] format). This inserts the file into the currently open document as a smart object (Using Smart Objects). Since you’ll most likely need to resize the artwork, Photoshop considerately surrounds it with the Free Transform bounding box and resizing handles. Just Shift-drag any corner to make the art bigger or smaller, or rotate it by placing your cursor outside the bounding box and then dragging in the direction you want to rotate. Press Return (Enter on a PC) when you’re finished.

    A dash of vector art can spice up any photo by blending real images with imaginary ones.Even if you can’t draw these little goodies yourself, stock-image companies like and sell affordable vector images so you can join in the fun. In fact, if you visit or you can download 10 images for free! Other great resources for vectors are and the Market link on the Creative Cloud application’s Assets screen.

    Figure 7-26. A dash of vector art can spice up any photo by blending real images with imaginary ...

Get Photoshop CC: The Missing Manual, 2nd Edition now with the O’Reilly learning platform.

O’Reilly members experience live online training, plus books, videos, and digital content from nearly 200 publishers.