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Illustrator CS6 New Features
Illustration by John Hersey

Exploring advanced tracing options


From:

Illustrator CS6 New Features

with Justin Seeley

Video: Exploring advanced tracing options

The Image Trace presets can only take you so far. So it's a good idea to familiarize yourself with all of the options that the Image Trace panel has to offer in order to maximize the effectiveness of your tracing. In this movie, we'll explore the advanced options of the Image Trace and how they can help you refine your artwork. First off, we need to expand the Advanced options here inside the Image Trace panel. So look for the small area labeled Advanced, and click the tiny triangle next to it. Once you do that, it should expand out the Advanced options, and as you can see there are quite a few.

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Illustrator CS6 New Features
56m 58s Intermediate Apr 23, 2012 Updated Oct 04, 2012

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With the CS6 release, Adobe Illustrator is turning 25 and has a new look and a few new features. In this course, Justin Seeley hosts a tour of the interface changes and the tools introduced in this version. The course covers Pattern Options for creating simple, repeatable patterns for web graphics, advanced tracing options with the Image Tracing tool, and the improved performance and file management features. Justin also discusses the exclusive features you get with the Creative Cloud subscription to Illustrator, like the ability to quickly unembed images and one-click file packaging.

This course was updated on 10/04/2012.

Topics include:
  • Adjusting the interface brightness
  • Understanding updates to panels and preferences
  • Creating a repeatable pattern
  • Performing a basic trace
  • Converting pixels to paths
  • Understanding what 64-bit support means for you
  • Introducing startup profiles
  • Understanding the Save for Web changes
  • Enhancing artwork with gradients on strokes
  • Working with the improved Gaussian Blur
Subject:
Design
Software:
Illustrator
Author:
Justin Seeley

Exploring advanced tracing options

The Image Trace presets can only take you so far. So it's a good idea to familiarize yourself with all of the options that the Image Trace panel has to offer in order to maximize the effectiveness of your tracing. In this movie, we'll explore the advanced options of the Image Trace and how they can help you refine your artwork. First off, we need to expand the Advanced options here inside the Image Trace panel. So look for the small area labeled Advanced, and click the tiny triangle next to it. Once you do that, it should expand out the Advanced options, and as you can see there are quite a few.

Let's start at the top and work our way down. The first option is the Paths feature, which allows you to determine the detail of your artwork. Dragging the slider to the left allows your tracing to be somewhat loose in terms of adhering to the original shapes of the bitmapped image. Whereas, dragging the slider to the right, tightens up the artwork and makes it follow the contours of the original a little more closely. This number will ultimately be up to you, but for this particular artwork, I think that 5% will work just fine.

So I'll enter in a value of 5 and press the Enter key. Once that finishes rendering, you'll notice that I still get a nice representation of the original image without a bunch of jagged paths and extra lines. In my opinion, lowering this value makes the artwork look more artistic, while increasing the value, makes it look a little bit more technical. The second option is the Corners Emphasis control. Dragging this slider to the right increases the amount of corners in your artwork.

As you can see, when I push it up to 100%, I get some jagged lines around the hairline and lot more sharp corners throughout the entire image. If I drag this to the left all the way, you'll notice that my paths really start to smooth out, especially around the hairline and around his chin as well. It really limits the amount of corners that are in my image, making things a little bit more smooth. For this particular image I think 10% is going to work nicely here. But again, this is always a personal choice, so playing around with these values each time will be beneficial to you.

Now let's move down to Noise. The Noise feature is a great way to clean up your artwork. The higher this number is, the less noise you'll have. As you can see, if I take this down to 1 pixel, the Image Trace picks up more of the smaller details of the image, whereas if I take it up to 100 pixels, most of those small details are ignored. Generally I shoot for somewhere in between. I'm not a big fan of all the little extra paths and cluttering up my artwork. But at the same time, I don't want things to just run together either.

However, for this particular poster design that I'm working on, I think 100 pixels works well and still maintain the integrity of the original image. Again, it's totally up to you, anywhere between 1 and 100, your call. Now let's jump down here to the Method. The Method option allows you to determine whether or not you create a budding, or overlapping paths. Now exactly was does that mean? Well, if you choose the budding paths, you basically get paths that are cut out and fit right along each other's edge. Think of it like this, you've taken several pieces of construction paper, cut them in individual shapes and then fit them together like a puzzle.

That's what this is. With Overlapping Paths, you create solid shapes that are stacked on top of one another in the form of the artwork. Instead of the puzzle piece, you have layers. Again, this will be up to you, but I prefer the overlap, because it eliminates any gaps or white space that might exist in my artwork. So in this case, I'll just switch it to Overlapping. The remaining options aren't necessarily deal breakers, but they are nice to have. For instance, you have the option to create either Fills or Stroke Paths. Fills are much easier to deal with in my opinion though.

If you were to choose Strokes, you'd be able to choose the maximum width in pixels that would be recognized and converted into a Stroke Path. You also have the ability to snap curves to lines. This means that Illustrator will inspect your artwork for slightly curved lines and then force those lines to become straight. In some cases if you needed straight lines this might be a good thing, but in artwork like this, not so much. Let's turn it on and as you can see I wind up with small gaps in certain areas. Like right here in the hairline, see how it converted that to a straight line? Same thing on the side of the face, the ears and all kinds of stuff.

It basically eliminates those small curves. So now these straight lines leave gaps in my artwork. I don't like gaps in my artwork. If you have white in your artwork, you can also choose to ignore it and make those areas of your artwork transparent. This is great for tracing one color logos that you might have scanned in on a piece of paper. If you have artwork like that, you simply hit Ignore White right here and it automatically ignores white and turns it into transparent section. Finally, you'll notice at the bottom of the panel that you have information about your tracing. This indicates the number of paths, the number of anchors and also the number of colors that are present in your trace.

This is a great way to track your artwork during the tracing process to see how much you've either complicated or simplified it along the way. All right, let's turn off Snap Curves to Lines. Once I do that, you'll see the artwork flows back together, all those gaps have been eliminated and I'll zoom out, and there we go. My artwork is now traced and I'm pretty happy with the results that I've gotten. The only thing left for me to do is actually convert it into paths, so that I can tweak it even further here inside of Illustrator.

Find answers to the most frequently asked questions about Illustrator CS6 New Features.


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Q: This course was updated on 10/04/12. What changed?
A: We added a new chapter to address the new features that come with Illustrator when you have an Adobe Creative Cloud membership. These include features like the ability to quickly unembed images and one-click file packaging.
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