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One of the greatest benefits of the Live Trace feature is the fact that it's live. That allows me to apply tweaks or changes to my trace to get it just right at any time. But there may be times when you want to do something that the Live Trace feature does not allow you to do. For example, edit the actual paths that are used in the trace. Likewise, there may be times when you decide you don't want the Live Trace after all and you want to go back to the original image. That's where the Expand and the Release settings come into play. So I'll start off here, I'll apply a Live Trace to this image. Let me go ahead and choose the regular Color 6 preset to this particular image and now I have applied a Live Trace to this image.
Now I know that I can't access the individual paths that are used for this trace until I expand it. To do so, I could simply click on the Expand button here on the control panel. Doing so now, makes the object no longer alive. In fact, the image is not even a part of this document anymore and all I'm left with are these vector paths. Paths for that matter are really no different than any other paths that I draw inside of Illustrator. Let me press Undo and I'll show you that you can also access this very same feature by going to the Object menu, choosing Live Trace, and then choosing the Expand option. In fact, one of my favorite reasons for using this feature is simply to expand it and then hit the D key for default.
That simply draws these outlines here and I can create my own paint by number schemes. Then I'll press Undo to go back to my original image, before I had applied the Live Trace. Now like I said before, when we have a Live Trace, we know that the photograph and the traced artwork exist inside of my document. When I expand my artwork, the image goes away and all I'm left with are the vector paths. But let's look at a different scenario. I go over here with the object selected and I choose the Color 6 preset. Now I show this to my client and he really doesn't like it. Maybe I wanted to sell him some idea where I'm creating some stylized version and some artwork, but he really wants me to use the photograph.
So rather than expand it, which of course just gets rid of the image and leaves me the vectors, I want to get rid of the vectors and just be left with the photograph itself, the original photograph that I have used. To accomplish that, I'm going to release the Live Trace. I'm going to go again to the Object menu, I'm going to choose Live Trace and then I'm going to choose the Release option, and this brings me back to my regular photograph. It's the same as if I had just placed it now inside of Illustrator. There is now no trace that exists inside of my document. So finally let me show you one other option, which I think is actually pretty cool with the way that Live Trace works. If I go ahead and I apply a trace here, and again, I'll use the Color 6 preset here, besides a regular Expand command, I could also choose the Live Paint option, which will expand my artwork and also convert it to a Live Paint group at the same time.
In doing so I can immediately use my Live Paint Bucket tool to mouse over regions and apply fill colors to them. So these are basic options for expanding and releasing Live Trace objects, but know by the way that if you are going to print your artwork and you're really happy with the trace that you have created you don't need to expand it. Illustrator will be able to print and process your files just fine while keeping your trace in a live state. However, if and when necessary, you now know how to expand and release your Live Trace objects as well.
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