Join Justin Seeley for an in-depth discussion in this video Using the Image Trace panel, part of Illustrator CC Essential Training (2015).
- If you continue using Illustrator long enough, you're gonna run into one of the biggest challenges that any Illustrator user ever faces, and that's the dreaded, "I only have a copy of it as a jpeg," statement from your client. When and if that happens to you, you need to be well-equipped in order to convert that jpeg into live vector paths, so in this movie, I'm going to show you how to turn a jpeg-like image into vector artwork using something called Image Trace.
Let's go up to the File menu and create a New Document first and foremost. And we'll select the Print Profile just so I can get an 8 1/2 by 11 sheet of paper, and I'll hit OK. Once I have that created, I'm gonna go up to the File menu and choose Place. Inside of the Exercise Files folder, Chapter 13, there's a fashionista.psd file. And when I place this out on the art board, you'll see exactly what I mean. This is just a fashion sketch. I'll shrink it down a little bit, so you can see it.
There we go. Let's make sure it fits on the page. Then we can center it up using the alignment controls. Okay, so we want this turned into vector artwork somehow. I could spend hours, days, months, years tracing this with the pen tool, but I'd rather just have sort of a one click fix. And the Image Trace is something that can really help expedite that process. So let's go up to the Image Trace button right here and just click it, see what happens.
When you click it the first time, it's gonna go through and read, do a bunch of stuff, and you're gonna see an initial rendering of this piece of artwork. And the intial rendering, I'll be honest, it's very rarely what you're looking for. In some cases, it might be, but in this case, you can see there are a lot of things missing. It's not exactly what I need it to be. So in order to get it really like you need it to be, you need to open up this dialogue box right here, the Image Trace Panel. When you click on the Image Trace panel, it's going to open this up, and you'll be able to see everything.
Go ahead and twirl open the advanced options too. Now I'm not gonna spend a whole lot of time going through the ins and outs of every little detail in here. I have a course at Lynda.com called "Tracing Artwork in Illustrator," and this is the course all about this particular dialogue box. Takes you soup to nuts through every single option, what it is, what it does, and how it helps you. But in this case, what we're gonna do is just play around with some of the presets. So let's come up here to the preset buttons that go across the top, and the first one, let's just choose Auto Color, see what happens.
Each and every time you make a change to something in the Image Trace panel, it's gonna have to redraw it on your art board, and in some cases, that can take a really long time, so if it starts off going slow, you can feel free to pause the video and then come back when it's finished. Now, once I click auto color, I'm starting to see this looks a little bit more like what I was looking for. It's given itself 25 colors, but I really don't think it needs that many. If you would like to see the before and after of what we're dealing with here, you can go up here and change this to Source Image.
That way you can see the difference between the Source Image and the Tracing Result. So here we're losing a little bit of that gray shadowing and a little bit of the coloring in the legs, but for the most part, it's getting about 90% of the detail that we need. If we really need all of those colors to convert them to vector, then we might want to consider the High Color preset. When I click on that, it's gonna take a little bit longer to process because it's really giving itself a lot of color, 85 colors this time. It's going with a full tone palette, meaning that it's going to be taking as many of these colors as it can and applying them to the areas that it thinks there's information.
Once that happens, you'll see here, we get a lot more of the detail back in the image, and if I zoom in, you can really start to see some of the detail coming back in the face and in the hair over here. If you're still not seeing what you need, chances are you need to go down here to the Advanced section. You need to play with the Paths, Corners, and Noise setting. The Paths setting determines how closely the newly generated paths follow the original outline of the drawing. Or how much artistic freedom you're giving Illustrator basically.
So if you don't care that it fits exactly, you can push this lower, and Illustrator will sort of play fast and loose with the rules, but if you need something to look exactly like it did before, you push it higher, and Illustrator tries to be a little bit more strict. When this finishes rendering, you may see some slight changes to the image, but probably not a whole lot. So let's see what it looks like once this finishes here. See? Not a whole lot changed whatsoever. So in this case, it really doesn't matter where I have the Paths section. Corners? I don't think I'm gonna want any corners in here really, so we can take that way down because this is a very fluid, very naturally drawn image, so there's not gonna be a lot of sharp lines in this.
There's a whole lot of curves, so let's just go ahead and make that change. And again, every single time you make a change, this is going to have to rerender what you're doing. The only way it won't rerender what you're doing is if you turn off the preview at the bottom. The final thing that's gonna help you pick up some more of the detail is to adjust the Noise. It tells you here, "Reduce noise by ignoring areas "of specified pixel size. The higher the value, "the less noise you will pick up." So in this case, I want to knock this down to something like 1, and let's see if it brings back any of the smaller details in this sketch.
Again, we're gonna have to wait for it to render, so if yours is taking a while, feel free to pause and come back when it's done. Now that it's all finished up, you can see that subtle shift right there. That means that we've picked up a few more details. I can see some in the hair there. Some around the legs. And all those little sketch marks that we have all over. Looks pretty good, so once you're satisfied with the results, there's really not much else to do here. All you have to do is close the Image Trace panel. This new Image Trace object is vector. You can scale it up or down without penalty.
However, the underlying image is still made of pixels, and therefore, every time you resize it, it may have to go through a rendering. So for instance, if I take this down, you'll see it actually goes through and has to render just a little bit. So some of this might be a little slow, depending on how much it has to do. Here you go, scaling it up. It's gonna go through and redo all the pixel clustering and all that stuff that it does, and once it's finished, you'll get a result of what this image looks like scaled up. The only way to avoid this when scaling this up or down is to convert the image into vector paths, and that's a very simple operation, and I'll show you how to do it in the very next movie.
- Changing the size and shape of artboards
- Creating and editing layers
- Drawing basic shapes
- Scaling and rotating objects
- Adding color fills and strokes
- Working with spot colors and color swatches
- Applying multiple fills and strokes from the Appearance panel
- Creating compound paths and shapes
- Using the brush tools
- Drawing with the Pen tool
- Creating type
- Placing and embedding images
- Printing and exporting artwork
Skill Level Beginner
Q: This course was updated on 06/21/2016. What changed?
A: We updated three tutorials to cover the June 2016 updates to Illustrator CC, including the workflow for exporting artboards and web assets.