Rasterizing Layers

When layers are composed of vector data, such as shapes, fill content, type, vector mask, or Smart Objects, the data needs to be rasterized before the layers will accept painting or filtering. When layers are rasterized, the vector data is converted to pixels and each pixel's location described on a raster. The conversion permits tools and filters that require pixels to function.

To rasterize a layer, select the layer. Next, choose an item from the Layer ^ Rasterize submenu. Alternatively, Right-click (Windows), Ctrl-click (Mac OS) the layer tile and select the appropriate item from the contextual menu.

There are three downsides to rasterizing vector data. One, the file size is increased because not only must each pixel's location be described using bits but so must its color values. Two, images composed of pixels are resolution dependent and can suffer from loss of quality when they are output to a larger-than-optimal resolution. Three, the operation cannot be reversed without recourse to expensive third-party plug-ins.

TIP Before rasterizing a layer, consider creating a duplicate that you can fall back on should the need arise.

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