What is rasterizing in Photoshop?

  • What is the rasterization of a layer in Photoshop?
  • When and why rasterize a layer/purpose of rasterizing?
  • How to do it in Photoshop 2022?
  • Should you rasterize/ does it reduce the quality of the image?
  • Types of Layers that can be rasterized
  • Alternatives to rasterizing
  • Can we Un-rasterize a layer?
  • Why am I not able to rasterize my image?

Meaning of rasterizing in Photoshop

It means converting a vector layer into a raster layer. Now let us understand the different meanings by vector and raster layer. Vector layers are based on mathematical equations, and you can increase or decrease their size as much as you want. They will not pixelate, and the image quality will not degrade if you zoom in. But raster layers are not like that, they are based on pixels, and their quality gets affected when you scale them up or down.

When and why do you need to rasterize the image?

Have you ever received this message on Photoshop?

The shape layer must be rasterized before proceeding. Rasterize the shape?

We receive this message when we are applying an effect or using a paintbrush tool on a text/shape layer. It happens when you try to make specific changes to a vector layer which are usually shape, text layers) and these specific changes cannot be done unless converted to a raster layer. The goal of converting a vector layer to a raster layer is to allow for alterations such as painting, erasing, and filters. Only the raster layer can be used to apply these changes.

How to do it in Photoshop 2022?

If you get a dialogue box like mentioned above then just click on it and your image will be rasterized or you can also select the layer, right click on it and click on rasterize type. And that is it!

Should you rasterize? Will the image lose quality?

It is not about should you or should not; it is about when and how, as at some point, you will need to do that to your text or shape layer when you are editing in Photoshop to use a particular tool/filter on your layer. What you can do is, before rasterizing the layer, duplicate the vector layer. In case you don’t like the way your image looks and want to go back to the vector layer.

And yes, you will lose the quality of the image after rasterizing it. If you enlarge the image or reduce its size too much, losing quality is inevitable.

Three alternatives to rasterization

Even though there will be times where you will have no option but to rasterize the image. There are alternatives to rasterizing. Here, I have listed three alternatives for different issues.

To Paint – Use layer

If you want to paint on a vector layer, instead of turning the vector layer into a raster, create a new layer on top of the vector layer and draw on it using the brush or any other painting tool.

To change Text or shape color

For text layer

Double click on the T icon on the text layer. It will highlight all the text. Now go to windows – character and use the color picker to change the color shapes – go to windows – properties. Use the color picker to change the color of the shape layer.

For Shape Layer

Click on the shape layer. Go to Windows and click on properties. Click on the fill box under Appearance. There you can change the color of your shape.

To erase – use a layer mask

Do not rasterize the layer if you want to erase something from the vector layer. (click here to know more about layers). Click on the layer mask button, take the brush tool and use black to hide/conceal parts of a layer and white color to show/reveal the parts of a layer.

Types of layers that can be rasterized

Text layer, Shape Layer, and Smart layers that are created in Photoshop can be rasterized. Others are already pixel-based (raster) images.

Why are you not able to turn your image into a raster image?

If you cannot click on the raster option in the layers panel, it’s likely that the image is already raster-based. That is why the option is grey and not clickable.

Can we Un-rasterize the layer?

As of now there is no option of turning a raster layer into vector one. So, no you cannot do that unless you undo it. But it will lead to losing all the changes you made.

Go to history and undo each step or press Ctrl+Z for windows and Cmd+Z for Mac.


I hope this article was helpful. And now you know, if not everything, then at least the basics of rasterizing. If you want to know more about layers, check out this article – https://crazy-graphics.in/importance-of-layers-in-photoshop/.

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