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Live Trace and resolution

From: Illustrator CS5 One-on-One: Advanced

Video: Live Trace and resolution

In this movie we are going to take this piece of artwork that we have prepared inside of Photoshop and we are going to bring it into Illustrator and use the Live Trace feature in order to convert this pixel-based image into a piece of vector-based artwork. I have opened in front of me, Skull 03 edit.psd. This is a layered piece of artwork, so I need to start things off by flattening it. So I'll go up to the Layer menu and choose the Flatten Image command, which will go ahead and get rid of all the layers. So it's very important that you make sure that you've saved your layers in advance of applying this command.

Live Trace and resolution

In this movie we are going to take this piece of artwork that we have prepared inside of Photoshop and we are going to bring it into Illustrator and use the Live Trace feature in order to convert this pixel-based image into a piece of vector-based artwork. I have opened in front of me, Skull 03 edit.psd. This is a layered piece of artwork, so I need to start things off by flattening it. So I'll go up to the Layer menu and choose the Flatten Image command, which will go ahead and get rid of all the layers. So it's very important that you make sure that you've saved your layers in advance of applying this command.

Then what you would do is you go up to the File menu and choose the Save As command, so you don't overwrite the original, or you can press Ctrl+Shift+S, Cmd+Shift+S on the Mac, and I recommend that you save the image to the TIFF format, just because that way you're not applying any lossy compression and TIFF will generate a small file that's compatible with Illustrator. So I am going to go ahead and save this image as High res art.tif, which I've already created in advance, but I'll go ahead and save over, it's not going to do any harm. Click the Save button, yes, I want to overwrite it, and then here's what I want to show you.

I want you to set the Image Compression to LZW. That's a lossless compression scheme that will do a great job of compressing these large areas of color. Otherwise, leave the settings as is, Pixel Order should be Interleaved, Byte Order actually does not matter. It can be IBM PC or Macintosh regardless of the platform that you're working on. Then go ahead and click OK in order to save that file. Now, you might want to do one more thing. You might want to go up to the Image menu and choose the Image Size command or press Ctrl+Alt+I, Cmd+Option+I on the Mac, and then leave the Resample Image check box turned on and go ahead and set the Resolution from 300 down to 72.

I want you to note while we're here, that the size of this image is 12 inches wide by 8 1/2 inches tall. So, just remember that for now. But you may wonder, why in the world would I downsample this image? That is, reduce the number of pixels from 300 down to 72, that sounds like a disastrous idea, and indeed, it is; I'll show you that in a moment. The thing is, Illustrator recommends you work this way. Illustrator will tell you that you should be working with a lower resolution image. It happens to be wrong, but I thought I'd demonstrate that to you right now.

So I'll go ahead and click OK in order to reduce the number of pixels in the image and now I am going to zoom in, and you can see this is the image at 100% view size. So we don't have any resolution beyond this. Once we zoom in beyond 100%, we're going to see big chunky pixels. Then you go up to the File menu, choose Save As once again, so as not to overwrite the original, and I would save this image as Low res art, which I've already done in advance. So, there's no point in doing it now. All right, so I am going to Cancel out. Now, let's go over to Illustrator, and I'm going to go up to the File menu.

Notice I have nothing opened right now. I am going to go the File menu and choose the New command or press Ctrl+N, Cmd+N on the Mac, and I am going to dial in those settings that I mentioned a moment ago; 12 inches wide by 8 1/2 inches tall. I am working in points right now, which is the default setting here in the States. So I am going to overwrite that by just entering 12in for the Width value. Tab down to the Height value, 8.5in. Notice when I press Tab, that Illustrator goes ahead and converts inches to points on the fly. Otherwise, one of the changes I am going to make, I'm working with Print profile, but I am going to change the Color mode to RGB.

So what I am going to do is expand open Advanced, this Advanced area down here, and I am going to switch Color mode, as I have in advance, to RGB. Normally, it's CMYK, but because this is an unusual print job, RGB is going to work better for me. Now, we are going to get this warning, this puzzling warning, because it's kind of difficult to make the hint show up, but once you do, once you hover over there and the hint appears onscreen, what it says is that the chosen space, RGB, may not be compatible with some of the stuff that's in the panels. So, in other words, our swatches aren't really going to be RGB swatches, they are going to be CMYK swatches, and our symbols are going to be designed for CMYK and so on.

Anyway, it doesn't matter for this art. So I am going to go ahead and click OK in order to create my new document. All right, now it's perfectly sized ready to go for my images that I've created in advance, of course, in Photoshop. I'm going to rename this layer, Images. So I'll double-click on it, change its name to Images, change the Color to a complementary color, that is something that we can easily see against the red background, such as Grass Green, and then I'll click OK. Now I'll go up to the File menu and I'll choose the Place command, and inside this folder, I've got my High res art.tif file, as well's Low res art.tif.

I am going to start with the Low res file. So I'll click on it and then click the Place button in order to place that on the Images layer. So there is the Low res art right ready to go. And then I'll take the precaution of deselecting the image, so I don't replace it. Then I'll go up to the File menu, choose the Place command, and I'll grab High res art.tif and click Place, so that it's in front. All right, now it's selected. Notice that High res art.tif is the selected piece of artwork, because we can see that the meatball is highlighted right there, the circular meatball.

So now I am going to go up to the Control panel and click on the Live Trace button, that would just, by the way, apply a black-and-white trace, and I really want to go ahead and trace all the colors. So you know what I should do, is click this down-pointing arrowhead and choose Tracing Options, so I can define my settings inside the Tracing Options dialog box. Once I choose the command, however, Illustrator is going to bark at me. It's going to say, hey, tracing may proceed slowly with this large high-resolution image of yours, are you sure you want to continue? You should resample to a lower resolution or blur, don't blur that's a ridiculous idea, or reduce the number of colors.

Well, I only have three , Illustrator, so it's not that big a deal. That might improve the tracing speed. Well, as we are going to see, this is going to trace ultra-fast. So this message is for nothing. You may want to go ahead and say, don't show again, and then click on the OK button. Now, what I am going to do is I'm going to switch the mode to Color here inside the dialog box and I am going to dial in a maximum colors value of 3, for white, black, and red, and we are going to go ahead and trace white this time around. So don't turn on the Ignore White check box, because I'm not really sure how the printing process is going to work.

They might print my flag on a big piece of white fabric in which case they'll add the black and the red, or they may print it on a big piece of red fabric, in which case they are going to add the black and the white. So I want to leave all those objects there so the printer can determine what they need and what they don't need. Otherwise, my settings are fine as is; Path Fitting of 2 is great, Minimum Area of 10, as long as I can get this little red sliver down here below this bit of fabric and above the saber handle on the left-hand side, as long as that survives, then I can leave the Minimum Area value alone.

Corner Angle is just fine as is as well. So, I'll turn on Preview just to make sure that I'm getting the results that I think I should get. Notice how relatively quickly things move along. That wasn't a super-slow process, so there was no reason for Illustrator to grump at me there. I am going to go ahead and save out a preset by clicking on the Save Preset button, and I'll call this one Black white & red, let's say, and then I'll click OK. Now, I'll go ahead and click the Trace button in order to apply the tracing effects. So we've now gone ahead and converted the imagery to vector artwork.

Now let's see what it would look like, because it looks pretty darn good. I'm going to zoom in on this a little bit. You can see that we have all kinds of reticulated results. I am going to turn off that tracing object for just a moment and let's go ahead and do what Illustrator recommended. Let's trace the low resolution artwork instead. So I'll go ahead and click on the meatball for Low res art.tif, that circle right there. And then I'll go up to the Live Trace button, click the down-pointing arrow right next to it and I am going to choose Black white -space- red, apparently the ampersand doesn't survive.

So, I am applying the exact same settings as I did before and I end up getting this effect. Now, you ask me, that looks terrible. I am going to go ahead and turn on Tracing; this is Tracing high-res; below is Tracing low-res. I'll turn on the top tracing object. Notice how much better it looks. Notice all that detail inside of the skull and throughout the teeth, and so on that's to be found inside of this image because I started with 300 pixels per inch in the first place, I gave Illustrator a lot to trace from. But when I turned that off and I showed the low-res tracing, it looks like an old school, from the bad old days auto- tracing, and we've got all these just sort of wicked corners going on, this over-smoothing, this looks terrible.

This is not something I would be proud to create from Illustrator. So you know what, I am going to grab this thing and throw it away; it is worthless to me. Then I'll turn on Tracing, because it's great, it's in fantastic shape. I am going to have to make some alterations though, and in order to do that, I am going to have to expand the artwork, and I want to expand the artwork in such a way that all the red items are on one layer, all the black items on another layer, all the white items are on a third layer, so that my printer can determine exactly which colors they need in order to print my final flag, and And I'll show you how that works in the very next exercise.

Show transcript

This video is part of

Image for Illustrator CS5 One-on-One: Advanced
Illustrator CS5 One-on-One: Advanced

153 video lessons · 28207 viewers

Deke McClelland
Author

 
Expand all | Collapse all
  1. 38m 35s
    1. Welcome
      1m 48s
    2. Linking AI and EPS files to Illustrator
      6m 48s
    3. Installing the dekeKeys keyboard shortcuts
      7m 43s
    4. Remapping Mac OS shortcuts
      6m 56s
    5. Installing the Best Workflow color settings
      4m 54s
    6. The color settings explained
      7m 4s
    7. Preserve Numbers vs. embedded profiles
      3m 22s
  2. 1h 40m
    1. Converting pixels to vectors
      1m 2s
    2. Tracing an imported image
      6m 17s
    3. Other ways to trace
      3m 17s
    4. Raster and vector previews
      7m 2s
    5. Threshold, Min Area, and Max Colors
      5m 27s
    6. Tracing options: The raster functions
      8m 2s
    7. Using the Ignore White option
      5m 3s
    8. Tracing options: The vector functions
      6m 40s
    9. Expanding traced artwork
      5m 6s
    10. Sketching and drawing for Illustrator
      6m 24s
    11. Editing scanned line art
      9m 23s
    12. Adding contrast and color
      10m 32s
    13. Live Trace and resolution
      9m 8s
    14. Expanding and separating paths
      8m 43s
    15. Scaling and editing traced art
      8m 4s
  3. 1h 8m
    1. Gradients are good
      1m 15s
    2. Assigning a gradient fill
      6m 9s
    3. Using the gradient annotator
      7m 31s
    4. Editing multiple gradients
      4m 37s
    5. Establishing symmetrical gradients
      5m 28s
    6. Creating a radial gradient
      5m 46s
    7. Adjusting the midpoint skew
      3m 23s
    8. Mixing gradients with blend modes
      6m 11s
    9. Making a transparent gradient
      6m 42s
    10. Drop shadows and dynamic effects
      5m 58s
    11. Assigning a gradient to editable text
      5m 42s
    12. Editing text that includes dynamic effects
      2m 56s
    13. Assigning a gradient to a stroke
      6m 46s
  4. 1h 37m
    1. The earliest dynamic functions
      1m 10s
    2. The gradient-intensive illustration
      5m 26s
    3. Creating a multi-color blend
      7m 39s
    4. Establishing a clipping mask
      3m 34s
    5. Reinstating the mask colors
      9m 7s
    6. Editing blended paths
      6m 50s
    7. Adjusting the number of blended steps
      6m 49s
    8. Using the Blend tool
      4m 33s
    9. Blending between levels of opacity
      7m 32s
    10. Editing the path of the blend
      6m 22s
    11. Adding a custom path of the blend
      5m 4s
    12. Placing one mask inside another
      8m 33s
    13. Blending groups and adjusting the speed
      6m 1s
    14. Rotating objects in 3D space
      10m 21s
    15. Creating custom perspective guides
      8m 31s
  5. 1h 37m
    1. What was old is new again
      39s
    2. Introducing tile patterns
      6m 11s
    3. Determining the points of intersection
      6m 51s
    4. Extending paths from the intersections
      5m 40s
    5. Crafting symmetrical subpaths
      5m 38s
    6. The final flawed subpaths
      5m 52s
    7. Reconciling misaligned paths
      5m 34s
    8. Completing the core path outline
      6m 14s
    9. Making a symmetrical modification
      6m 47s
    10. Adjusting the interior elements
      8m 26s
    11. Coloring paths and testing the interlock
      9m 29s
    12. Establishing a rectangular tile
      6m 22s
    13. Defining a tile pattern
      3m 43s
    14. Creating a few color variations
      8m 50s
    15. Protecting patterns from transformations
      6m 9s
    16. Transforming patterns without paths
      5m 30s
  6. 1h 12m
    1. Filling and stroking virtual areas
      44s
    2. Introducing Live Paint
      7m 57s
    3. Stroking with the Live Paint Bucket tool
      5m 30s
    4. Using the Live Paint Selection tool
      7m 18s
    5. Adding a path to a Live Paint group
      4m 33s
    6. Building a classic Celtic knot
      8m 28s
    7. Constructing the base objects
      5m 31s
    8. Weaving one object into another
      6m 13s
    9. Creating a path that overlaps itself
      7m 15s
    10. Painting a path that overlaps itself
      5m 34s
    11. Creating knots inside knots
      5m 2s
    12. Adding gradients and depth
      8m 22s
  7. 1h 4m
    1. Dynamic effects and OpenType
      1m 12s
    2. Applying a dynamic effect to type
      5m 43s
    3. Creating a basic bevel effect
      4m 12s
    4. Building up a multi-stroke effect
      4m 49s
    5. Best practices for 3D type
      6m 34s
    6. Applying a "path wiggler" to type
      6m 14s
    7. Drop shadows and Raster Effects settings
      4m 52s
    8. Duplicating attributes and effects
      7m 8s
    9. Editing type with dynamic effects
      7m 27s
    10. Ligatures, swashes, ordinals, and fractions
      5m 45s
    11. Small caps and the Glyphs panel
      4m 25s
    12. Warping text and increasing resolution
      6m 9s
  8. 1h 44m
    1. A world of colors at your beck and call
      1m 32s
    2. Customizing a letterform to make a logo
      8m 37s
    3. Creating a custom drop shadow effect
      6m 26s
    4. Introducing the Color Guide panel
      9m 3s
    5. Harmonies and Color Guide settings
      5m 39s
    6. Lifting harmony rules from color groups
      7m 21s
    7. Harmony layouts and the Lab color wheel
      8m 15s
    8. Working inside the Edit Color dialog box
      6m 36s
    9. Limiting a color group to spot colors
      5m 47s
    10. Recoloring selected artwork
      5m 50s
    11. Recoloring with custom color groups
      6m 1s
    12. Swapping colors with the Color Bars feature
      5m 18s
    13. Using the options in the Assign panel
      8m 41s
    14. Moving color groups between documents
      7m 17s
    15. Distilling your artwork to one spot-color ink
      7m 45s
    16. Recoloring artwork that contains gradients
      4m 17s
  9. 1h 21m
    1. How symbols work
      1m 2s
    2. The power of symbols
      5m 1s
    3. Creating new symbols
      6m 0s
    4. Enabling the new 9-slice scaling
      4m 24s
    5. Adjusting your 9-slice scaling guides
      6m 54s
    6. Previewing and acquiring symbols
      4m 12s
    7. Finding a symbol and creating an instance
      4m 13s
    8. Duplicating and replacing instances
      4m 19s
    9. Breaking a symbol link and envelope fidelity
      5m 26s
    10. Distorting and expanding a symbol
      4m 54s
    11. Updating an existing symbol definition
      3m 40s
    12. Recoloring a symbol definition
      4m 13s
    13. Applying a basic "local" color adjustment
      5m 20s
    14. Applying a more elaborate local color adjustment
      5m 4s
    15. Laying down a random symbol set
      5m 35s
    16. The eight symbolism tools
      6m 55s
    17. Editing selected instances
      4m 11s
  10. 1h 32m
    1. Illustrator needs Photoshop
      1m 1s
    2. Two ways to place a pixel-based image
      6m 6s
    3. Working with linked images
      6m 6s
    4. Linking versus embedding
      9m 38s
    5. Stroking and blending an image
      6m 16s
    6. Adding a clipping mask and page curl
      6m 51s
    7. Creating a blended border effect
      7m 10s
    8. Rasterizing your artwork in Photoshop
      8m 0s
    9. Saving a flat raster file from Photoshop
      4m 58s
    10. Restoring cropped border elements
      5m 39s
    11. Copying and pasting into Photoshop
      6m 27s
    12. Working with Photoshop Smart Objects
      5m 26s
    13. Adding a pixel-based layer effect
      4m 12s
    14. Editing a Vector Smart Object in Illustrator
      7m 20s
    15. Creating and placing a transparent image
      7m 1s
  11. 1h 15m
    1. The many forms of transparency
      1m 29s
    2. Real-world blending modes
      7m 57s
    3. Exporting transparency from Illustrator
      6m 24s
    4. Opacity and blending modes
      6m 18s
    5. The Darken and Lighten modes
      7m 17s
    6. The Contrast, Inversion, and HSL modes
      6m 12s
    7. Blending modes in action
      5m 11s
    8. Creating a knockout group
      6m 14s
    9. Confirming the viability of your artwork
      6m 8s
    10. Introducing the opacity mask
      4m 6s
    11. Making an opacity mask
      5m 25s
    12. Drawing inside an opacity mask
      3m 34s
    13. Creating a gradient opacity mask
      5m 29s
    14. Adding an opacity mask to a single object
      3m 22s
  12. 1m 13s
    1. Until next time
      1m 13s

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