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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.
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