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In Illustrator CS3 One-on-One: Advanced Techniques , author and industry expert Deke McClelland teaches users how to take advantage of the wide array of dynamic effects in Illustrator CS3. He demonstrates how to apply these effects to live, editable text to create custom logos and headlines. The training also covers Live Trace, Live Paint, and Live Color, as well as symbols, printing, exporting, and working with Adobe Flash files.
All right. As promised, I am going to show you the best way to trace these hand drawn characters here inside of Illustrator. Now, if you have been following along with me and you have made a mess of graphic the way that I have, then join me as I go to the File menu and choose the Revert command in order to revert to the previous appearance of this illustration. I am going to loose my changes so I have to confirm with Illustrator that I really want to do this. I will go ahead and click the Revert button to make it so. Now, if you haven't been following along with me, then all you need to do is open this graphic right here.
It's called Hand-drawn characters.ai and it's found inside of the 18 Live Trace folder. Then go to your Layers palette, twirl open the Image layer and meatball the Alphabet item right here, which is the imported image. Now, I should tell you where these letters come from. I didn't actually write these letters on a piece of paper and then scann them in. Instead, I drew every single one of these letters directy inside Photoshop using a Wacom Intuos3 tablet, just so you know.
So we have a very clean black and white graphic. A few little gray edges, so called anti-aliased edges around the outside, but that's it, mostly just black and white. And that's great, because Illustrator's default application of the Live Trace function is black and white. So once you have gone ahead and selected your imported image, then go up to the Control palette and click on the Live Trace button. You don't have to Opt+ click or Alt+Click on a PC. You don't have to do anything special. A moment later, Illustrator goes ahead and traces all of the letter.
Just as you can see, there was a slight change made. This is before and then this is after, so just a slight change on screen. Now the change becomes more obvious if you zoom in on a portion of your illustration. I am going to go ahead and zoom in on the letter G, for example, and notice as I zoom in on that G, it gets more and more clear. So we have the super sharp edges going. Now you may disagree with the contour of those edges, but they are crisp vector-based edges inside of Illustrator.
And to give you a sense of what the difference is, this is before. I will press Ctrl+Z to show you the before version of the image. So it's a pixel-based image at this point and I will press Ctrl+Z, or Command+Z on the Mac in order to restore the original pixel-based image. You can see that it is made up of pixels. We have got black interiors on our letters, white exteriors, a white background and then these gray pixels that represent that anti-aliasing that I was talking about, just they keep the letter form soft. But it's very chunky and we have a very low resolution image, just 72 pixel per inch, as we can see up here on the Control palette.
So we are not going to get a very good print out of it. Compare that to Ctrl+Shift+Z, or Command+Shift+Z in order to reapply the Live Trace function and you can see how super smooth that art work is. All right. Another way, another thing you should know about comparing your pixel-based image, your original pixel-based image to your trace version of the image is that you can do it at any time by taking advantage of these two pyramid options, up here in the control palette. So the first pyramid, notice that it's kind of chunky, that it's got little jaggies, that controls the image whether or not you see the image and the other one, the smooth version of the pyramid, controls whether or not your seeing vector.
Currently, we are seeing just the vector art, so we're just the tracing result, because it has a check mark next to it and we are not seeing, if I were to click on the chunky pyramid, we are not seeing the image. Let's say we want to see the image. I will go ahead and show the original image and it's covered up now by the tracing so we can't see it. We will have to go over to the Tracing menu there and change it to Outlines and we will just see the outlines. Notice those cyan outlines are a little difficult to see, those cyan outlines that are tracing around the contours of the graphic.
And now you might be able to get a sense of why Illustrator made some of the decisions, some of the tracing decisions that it made. An even better way to check out the tracing decisions, if you want to, is to go up here to this Pixel menu, right there, and change it to Adjusted Image. Adjusted Image means what did Illustrator see when it was making its tracing? And what Illustrator does by default is it gets rid of all that anti-aliasing around the edge. It just wants to see either black pixels or white pixels, once again, by default.
So if you choose Adjusted Image, you are going to see a very jagged graphic. That's actually what Illustrator traced. Again, this is by default. You can modify this later if you want to, but it helps to once in while to see what it is Illustrator is actually seeing. And then, of course, you can also see a transparent version of the image just so you can see through the image to other things. Anyway, probably the best way to work is either Adjusted Image or original image along with outlines, or once you want to see your tracing results again, then you can go ahead and switch over to Tracing Result like so.
So that's how you create a default black and white tracing of an imported, one would think, black and white image, like this one here, and how you modify your viewing settings so that you can see both the image and the vector art, or one or the other at a time. In the next exercise, we will see how we go about modifying our tracing settings in order to get absolutely the best results possible.
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