To trace a photographic image in Illustrator, first, place the image into a blank or very simple document using File > Place. Then click on the Image Trace button in the Properties or Control panel. Do not reduce the resolution of the image! To create a custom shape, set the Preset option to Silhouettes. Then, bring up the Image Trace panel and reduce the Threshold value. Finally, make sure to turn on the Ignore White checkbox.
- [Instructor] Okay, so I'm back inside Illustrator, and eventually we're going to want to add the tree to this piece of artwork, but it's going to be easier to place and trace the photographic image against a less busy background. So I'll go ahead and switch over to this file right here and I'll press control zero, or command zero on a Mac, in order to fit the art board on screen. Now, what you want to do is go to the View menu and make sure that your smart guides are turned on. In which case, go to the File menu and choose the Place command. Then you want to locate that black and white tree right there, and then click the Place button. Notice that goes ahead and loads your cursor with the image. At which point, you want to move your cursor to the top left corner of that red bleed boundary and click. And that should give you absolutely perfect alignment. All right, now you want to click on the Image Trace button, which is available here at the bottom of the Properties panel, or you can find it up here in the horizontal control panel. And so just go ahead and click on that button. Now it's very likely that Illustrator is going to serve up an alert message here telling you that the tracing may proceed slowly with this large image. To reduce the image size, rasterize to a lower resolution using Object Rasterize. And what that means is that Illustrator is inviting you to reduce the resolution of the photograph. Do not under any circumstances do that. That is the reason that that tree in the previous chapter was so choppy, is because it was literally tracing square pixels. And so the implication here is that Illustrator is going to do a slow job of tracing this photograph but it's going to do a way faster job than you could possibly do with something like the pen tool. So just go ahead and click Okay and let Illustrator do its thing. And just like that, not slowly at all, it's gone ahead and traced that photograph. All right. Now notice up here in the Control panel, as well as over here in the Properties panel, so everything that we're talking about is in both locations, notice that we have a preset. And so if I were to click on this down-pointing arrowhead I would see a pop up menu containing some presets including silhouettes, which is exactly what I want. And so I'll go ahead and choose that option. Notice that Illustrator has to redraw that tree and it drops out that white background. All right, I'm going to press control plus, or command plus on a Mac, to zoom in. The one problem is that we have some pretty gummy details. Notice that these branches are awfully thick. And so you can customize the results by clicking on this little panel icon right here, which is also available, I should say, up in the Control Panel. So either way, you'll bring up the Image Trace panel as we're seeing here. Now notice this threshold setting. You can crank this value as high as 255, which is the brightest luminance level there is, white. And so notice that you end up tracing everything with a big, black rectangle. Obviously, that's not what you want. And so if you wanted to trace just the darkest half of the image, then you would click in this value and enter slash two in order to divide 255 by two. And then if you press the Tab key, that's going to give you a value of 127, which is going to give you a lighter trace than we started off with. Now in the end, I came up with the value of 100 and every time you update these values, Illustrator will retrace the image. All right, there's just one more setting I want you to confirm. Go ahead and click on the triangle in front of the word advanced in order to expand the panel and notice this check box right here, Ignore White. If you were to turn it off, then you would go ahead and trace the white areas like so. That's not what we want. We just want to trace the black tree. And so go ahead and turn Ignore White back on and you will end up getting the desired result, after which point you may want to collapse the Advanced Options and then go ahead and close the panel. All right, now I'll go up to the Select menu and choose the de-select command so that we can see our tree against its gradient blue background. And that is how you place and trace a photographic image, as well as how you modify the threshold value here inside Illustrator.
- Creating custom shapes with a simple drag
- Combining custom shapes onto a single Photoshop layer
- Copying and pasting custom shapes
- Smoothing out jagged outlines with the Simplify command
- Creating your own custom shape with Image Trace
- Integrating custom shapes into vector-based artwork