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Deke's Techniques is a collection of short Photoshop and Illustrator projects and creative effects that can be completed in ten minutes or less. The series is taught by computer graphics guru Deke McClelland, and presented in his signature step-by-step style. The intent is to reveal how various Photoshop and Illustrator features can be combined and leveraged in real-world examples so that they can be applied to creative projects right away.
In this movie, we're going to take that little image that we sampled, as you see before you, inside of both Photoshop CC down here at the bottom. And inside of Photoshop CS 6. So they're looking almost identical. And we're going to take a different approach. We're going to automatically trace the image inside of Illustrator, and then we'll take the resulting vector based path outlines, and we'll scale them to 1400 by 1400%. And you'll see that we get a very different, but equally viable result. And in fact, which one you prefer is ultimately a subjective determination.
So, I am going to go ahead and switch over to Illustrator, and then, I'll go up to the File menu and choose the new command and I am going to start by setting my profile to basic RGB. In that way, align to pixel grid is turned off but we'll be working in RGB mode which is very important. I am working in points. And I'm going to set both the width and height values to 250 points apiece. If you're working in some other unit of measure, and you want to work along with me, then you would just enter 250 pt and press the Tab key.
And Illustrator will automatically convert to your unit of measure. Now click OK in order to create that file. And so this is a really a dinky document about three and a half inches in each direction. Now I'll go up to the File menu and choose the Place command. And I'll locate that original smilingman.jpg file which is that dinky image, just 578 by 750 pixels, that is to say, less than half a mega pixel, and I'll click on the Place button in order to bring up my place cursor, as you see here and then I'll just click anywhere inside the document to place the man inside the page.
Now I want to align him to the center of the art board. And so, I could have clicked anywhere. He could be way up here, to align him, just go up to this icon in the Control Panel. Click on it and change it to Align to Art Board. And then you want to click on each one of the center align options. Horizontal Align Center. And then this guy right there, Vertical Align Center. And we're doing this for aesthetic reasons only. It's not going to affect the tracing process. Alright, I'll go ahead and zoom in here. And the next thing you want to do is go up to Image Trace.
This Image Trace button? Notice you have this down-pointing arrow-head. You can click on it and choose high fidelity photo, if you want to. But that's just going to waste time in the long run, because I have some very specific settings in mind for you. So you're best starting with a black and white trace, which you'll get if you just click on the image trace button like so. And of course, it looks terrible, right? But we're going to make it look better. And you do that by clicking on this little panel icon, which brings up the image trace panel. Right here. And, you want to start things off by turning off the preview check box.
That way, Illustrator doesn't continually update the tracing every time you modify a setting. Which gets very frustrating over time. Now you want to change mode to color, like so. Then you want to change your palette from limited, which is limiting the number of colors that you can see here. You want to change it to full tone. So that Illustrator's taking as much advantage as possible of the 16 million or so colors inside this image. So go ahead and choose that option right there. And then you want to crank colors all the way up to 100.
So that is to say the sliders should be just above more, over here on the right-hand side. Now twirl open Advanced that is clicked a little triangle in front of the word advanced. And, you want to change the Paths value right here to its absolute maximum. That way you'll have as much fidelity as possible. And you want to take your corners value all the way to 0%, it doesn't really make that much difference, this value right here. But, it is worth a shot. And then, my experience, and you can fool around with this if you want to, my experience is that you take the Noise value, all the way down to its minimum, of one pixel.
Unless you have a very noisy image. This is the best way to work. And that's it. Now, you just want to click on the trace button down here in the bottom right corner of the image trace panel, and let Illustrator do its thing, and you will see a bunch of progress bars fly by, but in the long run you will see a traced image on-screen right here, and I'm going to go ahead and zoom in so that we can see it in greater clarity. So, right now I'm zoomed into 1,600% because this is such a small image, and you are going to see some sort of strange details, like these little traced pixels every once in a while.
That's supposed to be eliminated by raising the noise value, but doesn't really succeed in the long run, at least in my experience, but you can try it out if you want to. In any case, you should take a look before you go any farther here, you should take a look at each one of the eyes, regardless of what kind of image you're looking at. Assuming it's a portrait shot, of course, that there are eyes, because that'll give you the best sense for whether you have a good trace or not. Now, you would presumably go up to the File menu and choose the Save command in order to save off this image. And, I'm going to do that.
I'll just go ahead and choose the Save command. And, I will go ahead and name this document Trace Photograph, let's say. Just so there's no ambiguity. We want to save the document as a dot AI file. Then, go ahead and click the Save button. And, inside the Illustrator dialog box. By the way, those of you who are working in Illustrator cc which is version 17. You are probably sharing files with a lot of folks who are working in older versions of the software, and what I recommend is that you go and save this document in the Illustrator CS6 format, and in fact, there is very little to be lost across the board.
When saving to CS6, there are a couple of things, but nothing that we're up to. I'll go ahead and choose that format, just to make sure it's compatible with you folks who are using Illustrator CS6, and I'll click on the OK button in order save off that file and it may take a moment or two for that file to save to disc, of course. The next thing we want to do is just hide the Image Trace Panel because we don't need it anymore. And I'm going to press Control+0 or Command+0 on the Mac or to zoom out. And the Mac is actually going to zoom out quiet a bit here.
And I'm going to increase the size of my art board by switching to the art board tool, down here at the bottom of the tool box, and then, you want to take a look at your width and height values up here on the right side of the control panel. Make sure that the center point is selected here inside this reference point matrix. And, we're going to change the width value to 30 in, which is 30 inches, and I'll press the Tab key. That automatically converts that measurement, in my case, to points. And now I'll change the height value to 38 IN like so and I'll press the enter key or the return key on a Mac.
And you can see that we now have an enormous art board. I'll press the escape key to switch out of the art board mode so that my black arrow tool is once again selected. And I'll go up here to the control panel and click on the Expand button. In order to expand the tracing into a bunch of path outlines the reason we're seeing blue is there's so many path outlines that all we're seeing is selection edges. So, what I recommend you do is press Ctrl+h or Cmd+h on a Mac so that you can see your selected path outlines, and now press Ctrl+0 or Cmd+0 on the Mac.
To zoom all the way out from my art board, I'll go over here to the scale tool and double-click on it in order to bring up the scale dialog box. And assuming that you're working along with me, you want to change the uniform value to 1400%. Turn on the preview check box, so you can see it applied in the background and then, assuming all is well, go ahead and click OK. In order to scale those vectors. So again, we're scaling them to 14 times their previous width and 14 times their previous height. So 14 times 14 means that we're scaling the vectors to 196 times their former size.
Now if you zoom in, you may notice this weird thing where, I don't know if you can make it out in the video, but we've got these tiny white edges around all the path outlines. That is not something to worry about. That's just a function of Illustrator's screen display. And to prove that that's the case, go up to the Edit menu and choose the Copy command or just press Control+C or Command+C on the Mac. Once that's finished you want to make sure that you watch the Edit menu calm down up here. Because you'll see it highlighted and then as soon as the copy is done the Edit menu will return to its standard self.
And then, you want to switch over to Photoshop, and I've gone ahead and opened this upsampling comparison .psd document that I created in a previous movie. And now I'll go ahead and zoom out by pressing Ctrl+0, or Cmd+0 on the Mac. Click on this top layer just to select it there, and then I'll go up to the Edit menu and choose the Paste command, which you can also get of course by pressing Ctrl+v, or Cmd+v on the Mac, and depending on the speed of the machine you either want to select smart objects or pixels. So if it's an old machine, select pixels, if it's a new machine select smart objects.
Just because Smart Objects are more processor intensive and this is a mighty big file that we're working on. I'll go ahead and select Smart Object and click OK in order to paste that illustration. And from this far out it doesn't look any different than the up-sampled photographs. Now Photoshop should automatically scale the illustration, so that it exactly fits inside the image. Which in my case means that we have width and height value set aren't quite 100% but that's fine. Then press the Enter key, or the Return key on the Mac, in order to scale that placed document.
And you'll actually see a progress bar fly across the screen there. I'm going to go ahead and rename this new layer AI Trace so that I know where it came from. You can see that it is a smart object. Let's go ahead and zoom in on this guy's eye, once again, so that we can see what's going on and notice we now have the scaled vectors. So if I turn this layer off, we can see there in the background is the CS 6 result and behind that is the CC result.
These are the upsamplings that we applied in the previous movie using Photoshop. Which I can then compare to the AI tracing here by turning on the top layer. Notice those little lines totally went away. So what we're seeing is a collection of pretty obvious path outlines I think. But the results are a little bit smoother and sharper then what we get from Photoshop. More synthetic of course. But more sharply defined regions of color. Now my opinion, things are a little bit too synthetic. And so if you want to smooth things out a little bit, then go up to the filter menu with that AI trace layer selected.
Choose Noise and then choose Medium. That's going to work way better than any of the other smoothing functions inside the software. Go ahead and choose that command. And then the value I came up with is that same value that I used for the radius with un-sharp mask, back in the previous movie. That is to say, 12 pixels. So, in other words, 12 pixels works very well if your image measures 30 inches wide by 38 inches tall, which is what we're going for here. If your image measure twice that, for example, 60 inches wide by 76 inches tall.
Or something along those lines, then you would want to double the radius value. For example, set it to 24 pixels or of course you could just look at the results and decide what you like. Anyway I'm going to go with 12 pixels and I'll click OK in order to apply that filter. Now even though the filter previews very quickly as we saw a moment ago. It takes a moment to apply to the entire image. And just so you have a sense for the difference here, I'll press Ctrl+Z or Cmd+Z on a Mac to undo.
That's the original state of the traced illustration with all these weird synthetic results, especially here along the bottom eyelid, and then if I press Ctrl or Cmd+Z again in order to reapply median You can see that things get much better. Meanwhile, let's go and zoom out just a little bit, taking into account that this is a post resized image. So, nobody is going to be sitting there scrutinizing it from two inches away. You will of course because it's your poster but other folks aren't going to do that. And now, I'll turn off the AI trace layer, just so we can see how it compares to the upsampling inside of Photoshop.
So this is the enlarged photograph that Photoshop comes up with, and this is the enlarged photograph that Illustrator comes up with, and you can even split the difference. You can get the best of both worlds. Assuming that your regular marquee tools are active here. Then you can just tap the 5 key, in order to reduce the opacity of this AI trace layer to 50% as you can see in the upper right corner of the layers panel. And now we have a 50-50 mix of the automatically traced vectors that we just created inside of Illustrator as well as the upsampled image that we created inside Photoshop.
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