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Tracing options: The vector functions

From: Illustrator CS5 One-on-One: Advanced

Video: Tracing options: The vector functions

I have gone ahead and restored the saved version of Letters in 14 colors.ai, and in this exercise, I am going to demonstrate the other vector settings inside of the Tracing Options dialog box, those settings that determine how Illustrator generates the vector-based artwork. So with my artwork selected, with the tracing object selected, that is, I'm going to go ahead and zoom in on my artwork a little so I can see it with a little more clarity here, because we are going to have to see some of these letters a little more closely to understand what's going on. And then I will click on this Tracing Options icon in the Control panel to bring up the Tracing Options dialog box.

Tracing options: The vector functions

I have gone ahead and restored the saved version of Letters in 14 colors.ai, and in this exercise, I am going to demonstrate the other vector settings inside of the Tracing Options dialog box, those settings that determine how Illustrator generates the vector-based artwork. So with my artwork selected, with the tracing object selected, that is, I'm going to go ahead and zoom in on my artwork a little so I can see it with a little more clarity here, because we are going to have to see some of these letters a little more closely to understand what's going on. And then I will click on this Tracing Options icon in the Control panel to bring up the Tracing Options dialog box.

You may recall these options on the right side of the dialog box, determine how Illustrator generates the vector-based path outlines. We will start things off by turning on Ignore White, so that we're no longer tracing the white portions of the image. We've already seen minimum area, that's that option right there, Min Area, that appears in the Control panel. We are going to address the others in the opposite order that they appear. Starting with Corner Angle, now to see how these options affect the artwork, we need to turn on the Preview check box. That's going to allow us to see through to the image in the background, so I need to change my view here, the Raster pop-up menu setting, from Original Image to No Image so that image is hidden, so its not getting in the way.

Corner Angle determines where Illustrator creates corner points. So right now it's set to 20 degrees, which is saying, if any two portions of the image meet at 20 degrees or greater, Illustrator will go ahead and assign a corner point at that location. If you want fewer corner points, that is, more smooth points, you could raise this value. For example, I could take it all the way out to 180, which would be fairly insane, because that means that some portion of the image has to immediately backtrack on itself in order to get a corner point.

And if I press the Tab Key, then we are going to get some very doughy results. So we get smooth points throughout the artwork. We are also very possibly going to get more anchor points inside the artwork as well. So that's probably going to take the anchor point's value up. In my case, I really don't want the letters to be that rounded, so I am going to take the value down to 45 degrees, so a diagonal portion of the artwork will get a corner point and we do get fewer anchor points as a result. Also, move up to Path Fitting. Now this value here determines how closely Illustrator has to match the pixel-based artwork.

Right now, it can round off any two pixels. So obviously if I take this value up, let's say I take it up to 10 pixels, then we are going to get more generalized artwork as you're seeing here. We are also going to get fewer anchor points, so that's going to simplify the artwork. What you might figure is because this is a no noise image that I created inside of Photoshop, so there's really no portion of the artwork that I want to ignore. You might assume that you'd want to take the Path Fitting value down to its absolute minimum. So we are matching the bitmapped information as closely as possible.

But if I take that Path Fitting value down to zero, notice that Illustrator goes ahead and takes the anchor points, notice right now it's 1127, it takes the anchor points up, so we have way more anchor points now. And we have very jagged results, because Illustrator is tracing each and every pixel meticulously. That's not what we want at all, you want some rounding. So I recommend, unless you are otherwise, inclined that you leave this Path Setting value at 2 pixels. All right, now finally, we have got these Fills and Strokes options up here and they are kind of odd.

Notice that Fills is turned on by default and that means that you're tracing path outlines that are filled with some color, no stroking is applied. Currently, these options are not available to me, they're dimmed, and that's because mode is set to color. I have to change the mode to Black and White for those options to be available to me. So I will go ahead and switch to Black and White, which is what I ultimately want anyway. I am going to take the threshold value up to 222, that magic number that ensures that we don't trace the yellow, but we thicken up the letters as much as possible. I will leave these other values set as is, and then I am going to switch from just Filled artwork to just Stroked artwork, so we can see the big difference here.

I will turn off Fills, and when I do, one of these check boxes has to be on, you can have both on, but one of them has to be on. So if you turn off Fills, then Strokes will turn on automatically, and now we have just Stroked artwork, no Fill is going on whatsoever. So we either have big thick strokes or very thin strokes outlining the letters. If you want to have more thick strokes then you can raise this Max Stroke Weight value, and I am going to take it up to 30, and then press the Tab Key. Down here, this guy is Min Stroke Length, notice that its not weight, its length this time, and what that does is it tells Illustrator that it can go ahead and trace very short outlines, because otherwise, notice what's happened to the Ks over here, in this row and the one above it, they've become very dinky indeed and I've lost my Hs as well and a bunch of other letters over here.

If you set this Min Stroke Length value to 0, then you will trace as much as possible inside of the artwork. And so we go ahead and reinstate those missing letters. Problem is that all we have is Strokes, and that's going to make our artwork very difficult to edit, for one thing. And also, not quite representative, because all the strokes are uniform, so we have these thick, clumpy letters, which is not what I want. So I am going to turn Strokes off, which is going to automatically turn Fills back on, and these are, by the way, the values that I want to assign throughout this artwork, except for our Min area, should be taken down.

I am going to take that value down to 2 pixels and then press the Tab Key in order to update my artwork. So I will be creating 208 paths altogether. And I'm only tracing black this time around, I am not tracing white, so there is just one color, and because I really favor these settings, I think they are going to work out very well for me. I would like to go ahead and save a preset. So I will click on the Save Preset button, and this is a preset that will appear here at the top of the Tracing Options dialog box. It will also appear here inside the Control panel, and I am going to call this guy Compound blacks.

Now that may seem like a strange name, but basically because I have Ignore White turned on, each and every path outlined where a hole occurs, is going to be treated as a compound path. And I'm only tracing black, so that's why I am calling it Compound blacks. I will click OK, Compound blacks now appears as a present in the top left corner of the dialog box. I will now click on the Trace button in order to apply that setting and I'm also seeing Compound blacks up here in my Preset pop-up menu. So I have now traced the letters exactly the way I want them to be traced.

You might look at this and say, well, what about the colors Deke? You just dropped out all of those colors that were assigned to the original image. Well, I'll show you how to reinstate those colors to the expanded path outlines in the 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 · 28139 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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