Join Justin Seeley for an in-depth discussion in this video Quick tracing with presets, part of Illustrator: Tracing Artwork (2013).
As you start to explore the possibilities that the Image Trace panel inside of Adobe Illustrator holds for you, it's important to go ahead and explore the presets that it ships with in order to get yourself in a good position starting of with each individual trace. Now, the presets aren't going to be necessarily a one click fix, although in some cases they might provide you with just that. These are meant more as a jumping off point with the Image Trace feature that gets you anywhere from 50% to 75% of the way to where you need to be, and then you can go from there to sort of finish off the trace using a variety of different methods.
Like I said, in some cases, it works out perfect, where the trace you get from the Preset works just fine, but in some cases it does not. Let's go ahead and take a look at some of the best presets for given situations, and how you can use those here inside of Illustrator. So, I'm going to start off here on Artboard 1, and I'm just going to work with this hand drawn logo, and when I click on it, you're going to notice that I automatically get the option in the control panel up here to do Image Trace. Now, I can also open up the presets by dropping this menu down here, and I get all of the different presets available to me. Now, if I go up to the Window menu and choose Image Trace, I can actually bring up the Image Trace panel, which is I want to do.
And so, I'm going to leave this over here on the right, and what we're going to do is just go through the presets that I would normally use to sort of start to decode this piece of artwork. So, the first thing that I would try here is I would drop down the presets, and I would go down, and I would choose something like Black and White Logo, and when I do that, it's going to be pretty quick, because it's just reading black and white values. And once I do that, you're going to see it's not exactly what I'm looking for, so what I would need to do is try something else. So, let's jump off here and try something like Sketched Art.
Once I that, it's a little bit better, but still not exactly what I'm looking for. So, Line Art; let's try that, and when it renders through, it's going to give me something that looks like this. And again, it's picking up some of the shapes, but not really all of them. And so, maybe I want to start of with something like Shades of Gray. And so, once that processes, you're going to see that that's a pretty good representation of what I'm looking for, but it does include 50 shades of gray, so in this case, I would really want to start backing that down in order to get exactly what I want.
Now, if you find that none of the presets are getting you anywhere close to where you need to be, chances are, you need to go and refine that artwork a little bit more anyway. So, in this case, there might be too many levels of gray in this particular document, and I might need to actually take it back into something like Photoshop, and darken it up. If you want more information about how to sort of clean up artwork like this, I suggest going back and watching the movie that I have called Cleaning Up Raster Artwork, which walks you through the process of taking something like this into Photoshop, cleaning it up, making adjustments, so that it gives you a better tracing result.
Now, let's move on here. I'll move over into Artboard 2, and let's take a look at this. This is a really well done sketch that has nice, thick, dark lines. It's going to be pretty easy to trace, I think. But I need to try out some presets just to make sure. So, let's go to the Preset menu, and the first thing I'm going to do is try Black and White Logo. And once I do that, you can see that it gives me a pretty decent representation of the original piece of artwork. Now, I can switch back and forth to see the original. So, let's say View, and let's say Source Image, and then View, Tracing Result. That's pretty darn close.
So, in this case, it's just about given me that one click fix that I'm looking for, and I'm pretty happy with that result. And again, that was just by going and picking a preset from this menu. So, learning the presets, and what they do, and how they interact with artwork is a big piece of the puzzle when it comes to doing these things. Let's go to Artboard 3. Artboard 3 has these icons on it. Again, I think this is going to be a great example for Black and White Logo. Once that finishes, you see there, it does a pretty good representation of all of those different little icons. It also helped get rid of those reflections underneath them.
That's something I didn't necessarily want. So, getting rid of those was an essential part of this, and I've done just that. Again, it was just a one click little thing. I might need to go in and modify some of these paths, and things like that, especially around this barn right here; you can see it's got some kinda curvy lines, and things like that where, I would need to kind of straighten it up. Maybe the bushes need a little bit of attention, but overall, it looks pretty darn good. So, let's now go over to Artboard 4. I'm just double clicking these artboards each and every time to go over there. Artboard 4 is a little different. It's got a person's face on it, and so with this, what I want to do is just pick a preset that corresponds to what it is I'm trying to get out of this photo.
If I want this to be somewhat photorealistic, then maybe I'm going to try something like High Fidelity photo. Once that renders out, you're going to see it does a pretty decent job of rendering a photorealistic representation of this image. If I zoom in, you're going to be hard pressed to even see, until you get in this close, that this is a vector representation of that photo. So, it's actually done a really good job. But let's say I didn't want the photorealistic. Maybe I wanted it a little bit more stylized. Well, I could come back in here, and I could pick something like, let's say, Six Colors, and when I do that, it's going to go through, and it's going to read all of these information, and it is going to break this image down into six individual colors, and then show me a representation of that after the fact.
And there we have it. So once it wraps up, you can see it does a pretty decent job. There are only six colors in there, making it easy for me to modify it. I only have to modify six colors once I am finished, if I want to make any changes to it. So, it does a pretty decent job of doing that. You've seen this sort of look on different posters, and different designs, and things like that; very cool little representation of it there. You can also switch this over; let's do something even more simpler, like Three Colors, and see how it handles that. And once we finish, you can see that it does a pretty decent job with that.
It's removed most of the blue from the shirt, and stuff like that, so it's just kind of skin tone, and kind of a dark gray, but still a very decent representation of the overall image. I can still tell what it is, and it's really well done. And it did it fairly quickly as well, but it should be noted here that your mileage may vary when it comes to how fast or how slow this is. It's all dependent on your system, and how much RAM you have in here. This is a pretty time and pretty labor intensive operation that Illustrator is performing here, so don't be surprised if it takes a little bit longer. We are actually going to speed this up when we are showing it back you in this course, so my result is going to come through a lot faster than yours probably will on your screen.
But just wait for if to happen, and that way you can see the final result, and go from there. Again, these presets are just made to be a jumping off point for you. It's by no means the finished product, unless of course this is what you're going for. If this is exactly what you were looking for when your first came into Illustrator, great! Congrats, you are done. But if it's not, that's okay. You don't have to get all the way there right now. I'm going you through walk several methods of refining all of the settings inside of this panel, as well as most of the advanced options here to get an even better tracing result after you've picked a preset.
But for now, I just wanted to give you a better idea of how to jumpstart your next trace by using some of these presets, and analyzing your artwork to find out which preset works best for you.
- Analyzing the existing artwork
- Developing a tracing plan
- Setting up your artwork
- Exploring the three steps of tracing
- Adjusting the curve fitting
- Combining paths into shapes
- Tracing text by hand
- Applying colors to your artwork