Presets are an important starting point when it comes to tracing images in Illustrator. Learn why and how to apply them.
- [Instructor] Before we actually get started making a trace inside of Illustrator, it's very important for us to understand the various presets that we're going to be working with as well as the panel itself. So in this movie, we're going to be exploring those presets and also how to bring the panel up on screen so that you can see all of the options that are going to be available to you. First things first, let's select the image that I have on screen. It's just a picture of myself that's been doctored up a little bit inside of Photoshop. And let's take a look over here on the right-hand side of the new and improved properties panel.
You'll actually see a button called image trace. Now this may be instinctive. You might look at this and go oh, I click that and the image trace panel is going to appear. Well, not so fast. When you click that, it's actually going to come up with a list of presets, and when you first look at this you might be overwhelmed, 'cause you don't know exactly what each one of these is going to do, and that's okay. We can bring up the image trace panel to get a little bit more clarity on that. In order to do that, we need to go up to the window menu and inside of the window menu, we're going to go down to image trace, and once we have that done, the image trace panel is going to pop up somewhere on screen like this.
And inside of the image trace panel there's a lot more information than simply just the presets that we were working on before. Here at the top we have a couple of presets that they think are the most common: Auto-color, high color, low color, grayscale, black and white and outline. Now based on those different types of presets, you'll get different types of results. So for instance, if I were to click on the auto-color button it's going to go through and it's going to warn me first of all, that tracing may proceed slowly with this large image. Would you like to continue? Basically, what this is saying is hey, this file's a little large so if this takes a little while, don't get mad at me.
And that's okay. Just click Don't Show Again and if this does take a while, like if you have a slow computer or something like that, that's okay. You can pause the video as yours finishes, and then when yours comes back on, just simply replay the video. Let's go ahead and hit OK. Once this is going through, and you'll see mine goes through relatively fast 'cause my computer has a lot of processing power behind it, this is going to give us a result that looks fairly photo-realistic and you'll see that once it's finished. And, it's basically going through and doing an auto-color adjustment to see if it can generate something that looks relatively similar to what I had before.
So if you see there, that looks just about like what we had before. Let's go ahead and click on the second preset right here, high color. When I do that it's basically going to look at the same image and it's going to go through and see exactly what it can do to make sure that it's even closer to the photo-realistic version of this photograph. Now initially it's going to do some what is called pixel clustering, so it's just putting pixels together inside as vector objects, and now it's trying to smooth out the paths so that everything looks good when it's finished. The final step it its curve fitting: making sure everything fits together, and so that when it finishes, it looks like one cohesive piece.
And there you go. That's almost a direct representation of the photo that we had before, but in vector form. Now we've got the, what we call, or at least what I would call the low fidelity presets. Things like low color, where in this case it's going to take the image, and you'll see this is a lot faster, because it's not having to process as much color. It's not having to generate as much information in this case. So it's going through, it's doing initial pixel clustering, then it's going to go through boundary refinement. Look how fast that went. Curve fitting just smoke through that, all the way through and boom.
Now you can see that this is a lot less precise than what we got before. We've got some seriously chunky parts down here in my t-shirt, also in the background, and around my face. Now as we go over to the right, we're going to get even worse, so if we go to grayscale, it's going to automatically convert this over to a grayscale version of this image. Now this is going to look relatively photo-realistic, but it's also going to suck all of the color out of the image as well. Now, as I'm going through these presets, what you might want to take into account is that not all these presets are going to be used on every image.
I'm just showing you the basic ones and the ones you might start off with. So here we go. There's a grayscale representation of this image, and this is sort of what I would get if I desaturated it in a program like Photoshop. Now let's move over here to the more basic ones. black and white. When I choose black and white, that's basically going to go through, look how fast this goes. And it doesn't actually do any shades of gray whatsoever. That's just black and white. So anything inside of this image, if you think about the color tones in this image, on a scale of zero being completely black and 255 being completely white, any of the numbers in-between are converted into a certain value.
So for instance, in this case, the threshold that we have set right here, what this means is anything darker than 128 pixels; automatically converted to black. Anything lighter than 128 pixels; automatically converted to white. Watch what happens as I take this up to something like 175. Actually, let's go up even higher than that. Let's go to like 190. Watch what happens to the image. It's going to redraw it completely, and you're going to see some of the detail come back. Why? Because those areas were a little bit lighter gray than they were when we had the threshold set before.
Now if I go to the left, it's going to pick up less information so watch this. If I go down to 30, it's going to go, and you're barely going to be able to see anything in the image, because what it's looking for is anything darker than 30, and that's between zero and 255, it's converting it over to black. Anything higher than that, it's converting it to white. Usually right about the middle, 128, is where you want to stick to when you're using this unless you have some noise or some information that you want to pick back up like in a logo or something like that. The last preset that we'll talk about here at the top is outline and when I click that it's going to go even faster because this one is just basically going to give me a similar thing to black and white, and in this case, an outline of what it sees.
As you can tell, not where you want to start. So those are the common presets up at the top. You also have a drop down for presets here as well. High fidelity photo, which is going to be very photo-realistic, low fidelity photo, three colors, which is a three color representation of what you're looking at, so it really simplifies the color image, six and 16 colors same thing, going to break down the image into those many colors so six colors versus 16 gives you a little bit more detail, shades of gray is basically a black and white image that shows gradations of black and gray, black and white logo, sketched art, silhouettes, line art, and technical drawing.
Now you'll see as we go through this course, that I'll use different ones of these to get a better result, and as I go through I'll talk to you a little bit about why. Other things that you might want to take a look at inside of this dialog box are the threshold that I talked about a while ago. That's going to adjust the levels on things like the black and white preset to allow you to see more or less detail. You'll also see sometimes a section down here labeled palette or color, and what that's going to do is allow you to adjust how many colors exist inside of the image.
The advanced section down here is where you can get down into the nitty gritty. This is where you have paths, so how many paths do you want in here? Basically it tells you here: path fitting, a higher value means tighter fit, a lower value means a kind of a looser fit. So if you want this tracing to be as precise as it can be to the original, you crank that up. If you want it to be less than the original, just kind of a general representation, you can go a little bit to the left. On the corner section here, if you want to it tells you here: higher value means more corners.
That means areas that are slightly curved but could be corners would be automatically converted into very square corners. If you want less corners, things a little bit more rounded, you'd press that over to the left. The noise section is very important, especially when you're dealing with pencil sketches or ink sketches, because basically what this is going to do, you'll see here it says reduce noise by ignoring areas of specified pixel size. So basically right here at the setting of 20, it is saying okay, anything that is bigger than 20 pixels inside this image, ignore it completely.
Don't pick it up. If you take this down to something like one, watch how much information actually comes back into the image. It may not take very long to do this and then with this preset it's not going to take very long at all, but you see there that little shift that happened, that's just because it's coming back and it's picking up some of those areas that we didn't have before. Down here at the bottom, the method. The two methods that you have are: abutting, that means it creates two paths that are abutting up against each other, nothing overlaps, which can sometimes contain gaps so that you can see through, or you can choose overlapping which creates stacked paths and will almost always eliminate any gaps in-between.
You can also make sure that what you're creating creates filled regions or stroked regions. So if you want the areas you create to be fills as opposed to strokes, you make that choice. Totally up to you. The stroke width, that again is totally up to you. It tells you the maximum width and pixels that will be recognized and converted into stroked paths. So anything that's 50 pixels or above is going to be converted into a stroked path. Options: do you want it to snap curves to lines? Basically saying if it looks like it could be a straight line, automatically change it into one.
If not, leave it as a curve. Ignore white. This is big when you're talking about logos because naturally when you make a trace object like this, the white background that you see is going to be a path all of its own. So if you choose ignore white, it's going to completely ignore that and only give you the black value that you see here. Alright, now that we've gone through a brief tour of this presets panel and you understand a little bit of what each one does, hopefully you've got a better understanding of why you might choose each one, and as we go through the course, you'll see me choose very different ones and work with a lot of these different options to make sure we get the best trace possible.
- Working with Image Trace presets
- Setting up artwork
- Performing a basic trace with a preset
- Erasing and adding paths
- Refining paths with strokes and widths
- Resetting typography