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In Illustrator CS5 One-on-One: Advanced, author and industry expert Deke McClelland teaches how to take advantage of the wide array of dynamic features in Illustrator CS5. This course demonstrates how to apply these features to paths, groups, and editable text to create professional-quality artwork. The course covers Live Trace, Live Paint, and Live Color, as well as symbols, gradients, exporting, and integration with Photoshop. Exercise files accompany the course.
In this exercise, I'm going to show you how to compare the so-called raster and vector previews, so that you can gauge the accuracy of what the Live Trace feature has come up with. So I've gone ahead and once again restored the original version of Hand-drawn characters.ai. I've selected the image, and I'm going to click on this down-pointing arrowhead, next to the Live Trace button up here in the Control panel, and I'll choose Comic Art once again in order to apply the Comic Art setting. That will go ahead and trace all of my letters using black and white, and it will keep that one orange line of text so that we don't lose it. All right! What I want to do now is zoom in on some of the characters, such as the D and E, let's say.
So I'll Ctrl+Spacebar+Drag, Cmd+ Spacebar+Drag around those characters to zoom in on them, and might even zoom in a little further, because I'm really wondering why Illustrator has come up with some of these path outlines. Why does the D wrap around like this and then do this little sort of loop on the bottom of the Serif, and where has this little dig come from? And then, when we're looking at the E, notice it kind of flops back and forth, it has this curious sort of bow on the left-hand side and then it has got this notch cut out of it as well.
Well, what I can do is I can press Ctrl +Z or Cmd+Z on the Mac in order to undo the tracing and take a look at my original pixel-based letters, and I can see, sure enough, there is this bump over here on the left-side of the E, but there is no hitch down here at the bottom. And this looks nice and smooth on the underside of the D, so I don't know what's going on there, and there really isn't that kind of wave going on underneath the Serif. So what gives? Well, if you really want to get a sense of what's going on and why Illustrator has made the determinations it has made, you need to compare the pixels side-by-side with the Vector Art.
And here is what you do. I'll go ahead and press Ctrl+Shift+Z or Cmd+Shift+Z in order to reinstate the Live Trace that I applied a moment ago. And notice these two pyramids right here in the Control panel, this smooth pyramid represents the vector preview, and the jagged pyramid represents the raster image; that is the pixel-based image. So the first thing you do, so that you can see through the vectors, you go ahead and click on the smooth pyramid, the white one, and you change it to Outlines, so that you can see through those outlines. You can also choose Outlines with Tracing by the way, which is going to dim out the Tracing Result and show your outlines then, your path outlines in cyan, but I just want to see the path outlines and nothing more, so I'll switch to Outlines, like so.
Now, initially that's going to give us a very poor preview, because we're seeing cyan against white, it's hard to tell what's going on. That's why we're now going to bring back our original raster art, that is the pixel-based artwork, by clicking on the jagged black pyramid and switching this option to Original Image. So once I've done that I can see the vector-based outline is tracing on top of the pixel-based image, which is pretty illuminating. Now, it's a little hard to see some of those divots this time around, but they are still there. We've got the divot on the underside of the E, which really doesn't make any sense, because it's nice and smooth there, and then we've got this jag on the underside of the D as well, and this kind of wave, and all this other stuff going on here. What gives? Well, what we're doing here is we're tracing black-and-white artwork, and that might make you think, okay, so Illustrator is delivering to me black-and-white vectors, which is true, but it's doing one thing more.
It's converting the image itself to black-and-white before it traces it, and that's a very important step to bear in mind. So anytime you're choosing the number of colors, you're telling Illustrator to go ahead and reduce the image to that number of colors and then trace it. And you can see what that looks like by going up to the jagged pyramid once again and choosing Adjusted Image. Adjusted Image is the one that's really getting traced. And as soon as you choose that, you'll see that we have this very jagged image that Illustrator is trying to work with, and that's why we have this divot on the underside of the E, because we have a big jag right there at that location.
We have this tiny little jag up here on the underside of the D as well, on the upper-left corner. Now, you may wonder why it's doing that, given that it manages to smooth out this transition, and there's all sorts of jaggies going on here. However, it does explain what's going on. It even better explains what happens when you trace this image in color. So I'm going to go ahead and switch back to No Image right here, and also, I'll switch this guy, the smooth pyramid, to Tracing Result, so that we can see the traced artwork.
And this whole time, by the way, the tracing is actually selected. So if I go over to the layers panel and twirl open Image, you can see that the Tracing object is active, it's meatballed. I just want you to notice that, that's why this artwork keeps updating for us. I'll go ahead and switch the preset from Comic Art to Color 16, and notice that, that takes a few moments to apply, so we'll see a Progress bar go by. And we end up getting very different results than I would have expected, and it's even weirder when I zoom out. I'll go ahead and zoom out quite a bit here so that we can take in more of the illustration, and notice that all of the letters are surrounded by these kind of gray outlines, and then something like the 8 right there, I'll go ahead and zoom in on it.
Notice that it has multiple outlines right there. So Illustrator has gone ahead and created several path outlines around the 8. Why in the world has it done that? I don't want that. I just want one 8, not a bunch of them. Well, let's go ahead and see what Illustrator had to work with. Once again, I'll switch the smooth pyramid to Outlines, and then I'll switch the jagged pyramid to not Original Image, which will go ahead and show us what we thought we were tracing. Notice that the 8 has these nice soft edges around it. This is known as Anti-Aliasing by the way, and this goes ahead and smoothes out the transitions between the colored portion of the 8, the interior of the 8, and the exterior, the yellow area, in the background.
However, Illustrator is going ahead and reducing the number of colors to 16 colors in this case before it applies the tracing, and as a result we get this adjusted image right here, which is a dark 8 inside of a lighter 8, inside of an even lighter 8, every one of which Illustrator traces independently. So you might be getting a sense now then that you don't necessarily want to trace a piece of artwork in color and that would be exactly right, this artwork, for example, we're better off tracing in black-and-white, and if we want to keep those colors, then we can apply them after the fact.
So I'm going to go ahead and change my preset from Color 16 back to Comic Art so that we get the black-and-white result. And you can see it happens much more quickly as a result. It takes Illustrator way less time to trace two colors than 16 colors. And now let's go ahead and switch our artwork back, so that we can see the traced version of the illustration. I'll click on the jagged pyramid and choose No Image, and I'll click on the smooth pyramid and change it to Tracing Result, and there is the traced version of the illustration, for better or for worse.
Now, that doesn't mean you have to accept the results, Illustrator provides all sorts of options for refining your traced artwork, and I'll show you those options over the course of the next exercises.
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