How to place / open PDF document in Photoshop tutorial

how to open / place a PDF document in Photoshop

How to open and place the PDF files you have in applications such as Adobe Photoshop CC 2017 2015 CS6 CS5 etc and then use it as an open document or placed / imported layer. The PDF file may come in a variety of formats, such as single page PDF or a multi page PDF. How they are opened will not vary but the initial dialog will be slightly different with a multi-page document showing thumbnails for all the items included in the file and a single one, just a single image of the included vector. The PDF documents can be accessed in Photoshop via the open command and via the place command. The PDF documents can be re-sized, added to by effects etc as they are smart objects in Photoshop. This tutorial shows you how to open PDF documents and place PDF documents and then how to manipulate the PDF smart object in Photoshop. There is also a selection of free PDF format designs for use in Photoshop


  1. File open command

  2. Select PDF file

  3. Set the name, resolution etc

  4. Click OK


PDF Panel and opening files and setting resolution, mode, bit depth etc

open pdf place shapes select item

Once you have opened the PDF, you can then copy the item to another open document or perhaps save the item to the CC libraries for use in other apps.


With PDF Photoshop open, you will also have to specify

1. name

2. crop to

3. anti-aliased

4. width

5. height

6. constrain

7. resolution

8. mode

9. bit depth

10 as well as the thumbnail size


Weirdly, it won't open in 32bits per channel (bit depth)


Place PDF shapes in Photoshop

place pdf file in Photoshop

You can also use the place embedded or linked menu command to add the item to an existing document.


There is no additional dialog if the item is a single page file but there is a dialog for a multiple page (you can set the thumbnail size) to allow for the selection of a particular vector (sadly it does not allow for multiple items)


  1. File menu in Photoshop

  2. Place

  3. Select design

  4. Crop to bounding box or not

  5. OK

  6. Re-size as required

  7. Click return


The item is opened as a smart object


Re-sizing the placed / opened PDF

pdf resize and place and effectsOnce the PDF has been opened in Photoshop, the artwork can be re-sized from the default size which may be the same size as the document or smaller - to bigger or smaller than the current document. You can re-size at any point. It is a smart object which can be seen via the icon in the layers panel. You can also then add effects (it is a smart object)


  1. Select item in layers panel

  2. Filter

  3. Blur menu

  4. Gaussian blur etc



Blend and combine PDF layers

place and duplicate layers pdf

Once you have the PDF as a layer, you can then duplicate the layer as well as combine the result with blending modes in Photoshop as well as using opacity


  1. File place

  2. Browse for PDF file

  3. Place

  4. Re-size as required

  5. Press OK

  6. Duplicate the layer

  7. Shift layer

  8. Use blending modes and effects etc


Free PDF shapes

1. free PDF shapes to use in your commercial projects


Other resources

1. star and starry shapes

2. spiral shapes

3. shield and heraldic shapes etc


Sources and references

1. Adobe acrobat PDF on Adobe


Other tutorials

1. how to use Photoshop shapes in different color modes / image modes

2. how to use the shapes to create amazing displacement maps / textures

3. EPS shapes and opening and placing into Photoshop tutorial

4. Affinity Designer and how to open EPS files tutorial


Youtube Video tutorial

Video tutorial on the subject [Youtube]