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Covering a wide range of topics, from advanced masking to chart creation, Illustrator CS4 Beyond the Basics reveals a whole new level of power, creativity, and efficiency with Illustrator. Instructor Mordy Golding explores how to work with Live Paint groups, get the most out of the Live Trace feature, and take advantage of Illustrator’s wide range of effects. He also discusses advanced transformation techniques, powerful 3D functionality, and important color concepts. Exercise files accompany the course.
Live Trace is a great feature to use when you are trying to create stylized vector artwork based off of an original image, and we have already learned there are many tweaks, and functions, and settings that you can apply to basically get your trace to look just the way that you want it. That being said, Illustrator still is a vector based application, and there may be times when certain edits that you can make to a photograph are better off made in a program like Photoshop. Now obviously Photoshop and Illustrator has some really great integration between them, and when you are using the Live Trace feature, it's important to realize that you do have Photoshop to go back to when you are trying to make certain edits. So with that concept in mind, let me show you how I use Photoshop and Illustrator together to get just the trace that I want.
I'll start off here inside of Illustrator by creating just a web document. It happens to be that I find that whenever I create RGB documents, I get better tracing result than working in CMYK. It's also a little bit faster, because the Live Trace feature actually works natively in RGB. So I'll start by placing a photograph on to my document. I'll go to the File menu, I'll choose Place, and on my Desktop I have an image here called surfer_dude.psd. It's a native Photoshop file, but really it can be any image. But before I place it, I'm going to come down over here where it says Link, I'm going to make sure the Link option is checked. Rather than embed the image when I place it now into Illustrator, the Link option will ensure that the actual photograph exists outside of the file. That means if I make change to that photograph at any time, those changes will update inside of Illustrator.
So I'll click on the Place button. Now I'll go over here to the Live Trace option, and I'll choose to apply the Color 6 preset. So let's take a look at our result. Say over here on his forehead, we have some of the sky color that's being introduced, same thing also with some of the highlights in his nose and over here on his face. Now why is that happening? Well, remember, Illustrator is taking now a full color photograph, and reducing it just to six colors. If I press Undo, so we can see the original photograph, it could be that the highlights are being reduced close enough to the same that are being used here on the sky. So when I go back to the tracer, I can see that that's exactly what's happening. Now in reality, I can do one of several things here, I could choose to expand my artwork, which would now release all these as vector shapes, and then I can start to select the areas that are blue, and I can change the colors manually.
Now maybe here in this example where I only have like one or two or small little areas that exist, that may not be that big of a task. But sometimes they may have just too many areas to count. Even more so, I may not want to expand my trace at all. I may want to keep it in a live state so that I can experiment with other settings. Now we know if I option up the Tracing Options dialog box that I can adjust the raster based settings, or the vector based settings of that trace. But even on the raster based side, these are settings that apply to the entire image overall. I can't target specific pixels, and make a change to them. For example, I can't tell the photograph to look at this particular area and change the color of those pixels.
After all, Illustrator only works with vectors. It doesn't allow me to actually edit pixels in any way, but Photoshop does. In fact, I found that working with Photoshop makes my life so much easy when working with a trace. I can perform certain types of adjustment inside of Photoshop much fast than I can ever do inside of Illustrator. So let's see how that works. I'm going to go to the Window menu. I'm going to open up my Links panel. The Links panel basically identifies all the images that are placed into my Illustrator document. Notice over here, I have the surfer_dude.psd file. I'll come to these icons here on the bottom, and the one on the far right over here is called Edit Original.
By clicking on this button, Photoshop will now launch and open up that photograph. So now let's go ahead and make some change to this photograph here inside of Photoshop. Let me zoom in just on his face area right here, and I'll use my Regular Clone tool to simply sample some area from his forehead here, and basically kind of clean it up, or darken I guess you can say that highlight area, maybe even get rid of it completely. I'll do the same thing for his nose, let me sample this area from his nose right here, and I'll simply touch up that area. Now I'm not doing a cover for Vogue Magazine or something else for that where I need to worry exactly about how this looks. What I simply need to do is just remove those areas. Remember at the end of the day, all these areas will be converted to vectors. So I'll sample an area let's say from over here his cheek, and let's kind of cover up that highlight area, and maybe I have these splotches here on his nose, just to make sure those don't get picked up.
I'll delete those areas as well. So now what I have done is I have made some very simple and basic pixel changes here inside of Photoshop. I have gotten rid of those hot areas, or those hot spots that appear on his face. I'll simply save the image, and now I'll return to Illustrator. In doing so, Illustrator will inform me that the image has now been updated. Would I like to update it? And the answer is Yes. Now remember when I apply a Live Trace inside of Illustrator, the actual image is still inside of Illustrator. That's what makes this that Live Trace. So the photograph is still there. As soon as I update the photograph behind the scenes, Live Trace will automatically update to trace as well. In doing so those areas that were blue, because they were hot before in that particular area of the highlight of his face, now have been converted to the same color that appears in the rest of his face.
What's great about working in this way is again I don't need to worry about making precise adjustments or complex retouching techniques inside of Photoshop. In this case, all I need to do was change the tone in those areas to make sure they were close to the face, so they all got merged into the same shape. So when you are working with Live Trace, it's really easy to kind of get caught up and actually worrying about how the vectors have formed here inside of Illustrator. But don't forget that you have this incredibly powerful tool Photoshop in your arsenal as well. Using these two applications together, you can just the right trace that you need in a very little time.
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