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Image Trace

From: Illustrator CS6 New Features Overview

Video: Image Trace

The Image Trace feature in Illustrator CS6 has been vastly improved with a new tracing engine. With Image Trace we can convert raster based images into vector art work with the push of a button. A simplified Image Trace panel gives you the control that you need to make adjustments to your converted vector art. Let's go ahead and take a look. So I have a document already open on my computer, and I'm just going to go to the Window menu, and choose Links, so that we can see that this document is essentially just an Illustrator file, with an image placed onto the art board.

Image Trace

The Image Trace feature in Illustrator CS6 has been vastly improved with a new tracing engine. With Image Trace we can convert raster based images into vector art work with the push of a button. A simplified Image Trace panel gives you the control that you need to make adjustments to your converted vector art. Let's go ahead and take a look. So I have a document already open on my computer, and I'm just going to go to the Window menu, and choose Links, so that we can see that this document is essentially just an Illustrator file, with an image placed onto the art board.

Now in this example, it's an embedded image. But it doesn't matter if it's linked or embedded, Image Trace will work just fine. So I'm going to go ahead and close this, and then we'll go to the Window menu, and choose Image Trace. Now I'm just going to reposition my artwork, so that I can see the Image Trace panel along with the image itself. Now I'm going to click on this image to make it active, and you'll see that all the options are now available within the Image Trace panel. Along the top of the Image Trace panel you have a number of different presets to use for different categories of images that you might run into, when you're using Image Trace. So this is just a scan of a piece of art that was done, and I'm going to go ahead and click on this button here, for the black and white image trace. You'll notice how quickly this happens.

And if I zoom in on this artwork, you'll also notice that the image has now been converted to vector art. Now I'm going to go ahead and zoom out a little bit. Because in addition to these presets up here, we do have a lot of controls that we can choose here. So for example we can choose additional presets here, we can choose different types of photo presets or different presets depending on the type of art work we are using, so we can experiment. We can also choose to view the tracing result, the tracing result with outlines, only outlines or the source image.

So I think it's best to view the tracing result in this example. And we'll leave the mode to black and white since that's essentially what we have here. Now, in addition, we have a Threshold slider here. And you may notice that we're losing some of the fine details here inside of this artwork. So what we can do is we'll zoom in a little bit on that top portion there, so we can see it a little bit better, and I'm going to drag the Threshold to the right. And as I do that, you're going to start to see some of those fine details coming back into play and you can adjust this to meet your needs.

That looks pretty good. Now there's a lot more available because we can click on the disclosure triangle next to advanced to open up this advanced category here. And we've got a couple of additional sections here for Paths, Corners, and Noise. So, for example, Paths is going to control the path fitting. So, the higher the value the tighter the path is going to fit to the original image. So, you can see as I drag this to the right the path is adjusting to fit a little bit more accurately to the original scan.

The Corners controls how tight the corners are going to fit or how they're going to appear on the path. So you can see the tool tip when you hover over this - a higher value means more corners. So, if you drag the slider to the right, you're going to see more corners. If I drag it to the left, it's going to round it out a little bit more. Now the Noise area down here reduces noise, as you can see in the tool tip, by ignoring areas of specified pixel size. So the higher the value the less noise you're going to see in your artwork. And you can see that as I start adjusting these settings I get a more organic looking piece of artwork.

You might have noticed in earlier versions of Image Trace and previous versions of Illustrator, we tended to get a lot more choppy results when we're working with our artwork. Down here in the Method, we can choose Abutting which is going to create cut out paths. Or we could choose Overlapping which is going to create stacked paths. So again, whichever method you prefer. Under the Create category, we can create Fills. We can also allow it to create Strokes. And if we choose Strokes we can control the maximum width and pixels of the stroke that's going to be created.

Down here we can also snap curves to the lines. So you can experiment with those settings to see the results if they change. So now that I'm done I can close the Image Trace panel. Now this is still technically a tracing object, and if I want to work with this and modify it, we need to expand it. So I'm going to click on the Expand button up here and you'll now see the actual pads that have been created. Now we can zoom out here and I'm going to go to the Object menu and ungroup this, depending on how many objects you have you may need to ungroup it a couple of times here. And now you can select these objects and you can modify them to meet your needs so you can see that I can fill these with different colors and I can start formatting this content in different ways.

The new Image Trace panel makes the process of converting your raster photos into vector artwork a snap. Practice this feature with your own artwork and you're sure to like what you see.

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Illustrator CS6 New Features Overview

12 video lessons · 2735 viewers

Chad Chelius
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