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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.
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.
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