Image trace tool for sketches in Adobe Illustrator Ep14/19 [Adobe Illustrator for Beginners]

[ Music ]>>Hello, and welcome to
this video tutorial brought to you by In this video I will be
showcasing a particular tool called the image trace tool
known in early versions of Illustrator as
the live trace tool. We will be taking a look at
this tool and how it works. And later on I will be
discussing its pros and cons and why we may or may
not want to use it. To follow along with this
tutorial you will need to open this document. This can be found in the
“test project” folder in the “project” folder. You can download this
project folder for free. The download link is
in the description. So with the project folder open
click test project, set up, image trace, versions
and select the version of Illustrator you’re using. In my case it’s CC, and
open the image trace file, and you should have something
that looks like this. Now, we are going to be covering
various topics in this tutorial. If you wish to skip ahead
to any point in the video or back you can do
so quite simply. The topics covered in
this video are listed in the description
along with their times. So be sure to check that out. So let’s get into it. In the last video we looked
at how to set up a document and place a bitmap
pixel-based image into our composition
ready to trace. In this video I’m going to
use this document example to demonstrate and introduce
you to the image trace tool. If you have this document open
you, too, can follow along and have a go at it yourself. So what is the image trace tool? Well, the image trace
tool is a way to very quickly convert bitmap
pixel-based images, pictures and photos into vector artwork. If you have an image selected on your canvas area you can
find the image trace tool button up in the control panel. As you can see I have a button
here called image trace. In most recent versions of Illustrator this
tool has been changed. This tool was formerly
called the live trace tool. If you’re using an earlier
version you may have to follow along using
the live trace tool. They pretty much
work in the same way. Though in recent versions of Illustrator the tool itself
has been slightly changed. You can still find it
up in the control panel as the live trace button. So why use this tool? Well, the image trace tool
is very popular with artists and illustrators who wish
to turn their paper drawings or reference photo
images into vector artwork which they can refine and
apply color effects to. In my case I have a hand
drawn sketch here which I want to convert into vector artwork,
potentially adding lots of color and experimenting
with some effects. We can use the image trace tool to quickly convert this
sketch into a vector. Now, the great thing
about vector artwork is that it can be shrunk to the
size of a pinhead or blown up to the size of a building
and still retain clarity and sharpness and not become
pixilated like what can happen with pixel-based graphics. So if we look at the first art
board this is a drawing I have prepared earlier. It’s been scanned and
placed into my document. At the moment this
is a bitmap image. This is a pixel-based image. If we select the image with
the selection tool we can see a bounding box around it. And if we zoom in close we
can see the paper texture and the drawing in more detail. So if we come onto the next
art board we have another example here. Though this time with
the selection tool if I select this image
we can see it is, indeed, a vector shape. And if we zoom in here we
can see all the anchor points that make up the artwork. This example here was created
from our pixel-based image here to the left using
the image trace tool. If I come across to the next two
examples we can see we have some other color effects. When you convert your
hand drawn sketch or image into a vector using
the image trace tool, you will find you can
apply color very easily. If I come over to the right
here we can see this image has a stroke effect applied to it. If I select this example and
look at the color arrangement in a tools menu, we can
see it simply has a stroke with a gradient color applied. If I click on the swap
fill and stroke button, we can see this is simply the
vector of our hand drawn sketch with a color gradient applied. So upon using the image trace
tool you can quickly apply effects to your drawings that would otherwise
take you a long time. So how do we use the
image trace tool? So I’m going to toggle the
visibility of the example layer so we are not distracted
by this. And to use the image trace
tool in CC you will need to have your image
trace panel open. And I’m just going to drag it
out so we can clearly see this. If you cannot see yours come
up to the window, scroll down and select image trace. If you’re using an
earlier version of Illustrator don’t
worry about this for now. So first come over and select
the blue example and delete it. Come to the left and select
our pixel-based image. Press command C to copy
and command V to paste and drag our copy image
over to the right art board. Once we are happy with the
positioning of the image, make sure the image is
selected with the selection tool and has the bounding
box around it. Now we need to come up to
the control panel and look for the image trace tool button. It should be towards the
middle of the control panel. So I’m going to go ahead and click the image
trace tool button once. Upon click you will
see Illustrator begin to process the image, and
suddenly the image appears to have been converted. Though it’s not done quite yet. Next we need to toggle
a bunch of properties to get the effect we want. And this is done in the
image trace tool panel here. If you’re using the live trace
tool you will find the tools in the top control panel. So if we look in the image trace
tool panel here we have a number of options to choose from. Starting from the top we have
a series of buttons here. We have auto color, high
color, low color, gray scale, black and white and outline. These are a few presets that
upon click will apply an effect to our live trace image. Now, it’s important to mention that the image trace tool can
take a lot of processing time. The bigger your pixel image
the longer it will take to apply the effect. We have a really
simple example here. It’s just a black
and white sketch. So I’m going to go
ahead and click on the black and white button. And that’s going to
optimize the settings for a black and white image. Now, if we want to we can click
on the preset tab and select from a range of other
color options. Though we are just going
to keep it set to black and white on this occasion. We are going to keep view
set to tracing result and mode to black and white. Next we have the threshold. Now, this is probably one of
the main properties you want to pay attention to as this
can alter the effect entirely. For earlier versions of
Illustrator this can be found in the control panel next
to the live trace button. So with the image
selected I’m going to toggle the threshold
down to 50. And we can see the amount of black used decreases
but quite subtly. If we decrease the
threshold down to, say, 25 we can see this
time the amount of black decreases
significantly. If we put the threshold up to say 169 we can increase
the depth of the black. And if we push the threshold up to 244 we can see
a significant increase in the black. So you can toggle the threshold to get an effect
you’re happy with. On this occasion I’m going
to go with around 200. That’s looking quite bold there. On the image trace panel we
also have an advanced option, and if I click this we can also
toggle paths, corners and noise. Now, these toggle subtle
details of the vector. For example, we can
push the paths up and bring the paths down. We can toggle this to
further refine the appearance of our image trace. I’m going to place my
paths to 80 percent and just toggle away the
advanced option for now. So now we have a good
image trace example, and that’s looking pretty close
to my original scanned drawing. So now I’m ready to move on. Notice how our current
selection has a bound in box still around the image. Well, this is because we now
have to expand the artwork. So once you have toggled
your image trace properties and you’re happy, next
we are going to come up and click on the expand button. This button can be found
in the control panel where the image trace
button was. Upon click we have now
essentially expanded the vector artwork. And now we can see all the
vector anchor points that make up the vector artwork. So now this image is no
longer a pixel image, it is now vector artwork. And we can expand and shrink
this as much as we like and we will not lose
any quality. So I’m going to click off
for a second to deselect and then click back on. Though notice now
it’s all selected. What we have here is a black
and white vector composition that is currently grouped. When you expand your image trace
the artwork is always grouped. If we right click and select
ungroup, click off the deselect and then select the white
area just next to the black, you will see we have
now made a selection of a vector containing the
white space around our drawing. So now all the shapes
that make up this black and white vector composition
have been separated. And we can change
the color of this. For example, I’ve selected green
from up in the swatches panel. Easy. Though I don’t
want this vector shape so I’ll simply delete it. So now with the selection
tool we can click around our new vector artwork and select the various
vector shapes that make up this composition. And if we want to with the
various white shapes inside our black outline we can
select them and add color. Easy. So I’ll just
undo that to get back to my black and white image. So if it’s that easy
to convert a sketch into vector artwork
then why spend a lot of time tracing a sketch
using the pen tools? Well, it all really comes
down to what effect you want to achieve in your artwork. Here is a document I’ve
prepared as an example. You can also find this
in the project folder. So, yes, it is very quick to use
the image trace tool and, yes, it does take a long time to trace a sketch using
the drawing tools. But as you can see here
the comparison says it all. If you want an organic, hand drawn appearance
then definitely go with the image trace tool. Though if you want an outcome
like the one you see here on the right you will have to spend a little more time
tracing using the drawing tools. When you trace a sketch using
the drawing tools you will get a much cleaner graphic
and stylized outcome. As you can see here this is
an example I traced using the drawing tools. And I have also taken the
artwork further by adding in some details around the
eyes and on the decoration. So that’s a brief introduction on how you can use
the image trace tool to quickly convert your
sketch into vector artwork. In the next video we are
going to use the drawing tools in Adobe Illustrator
to trace a drawing. We are going to be using the
pen tool, the brush tool, the blob brush tool
and the eraser tool to convert this drawing
into vector artwork. See you in the next video.


  • Kareem worrell

    The cs5 version in the projects folder is only showing one skull, the final one in the line up when I choose to open it cmyk, and the first when i open it RGB.  Also when I try to open the Image trace document it says that the file was generated using a newer version of illustrator. Not sure what to do to follow the tutorial.

  • rafael andrade

    Hi! I'm beginer in illustrattor and like very much your tutorials but i can't wacth you videos whiout legends because i can't listen english very well. So you could ativacted the automatic legends in the videos 14 and 15? I Appreciate.

  • Sema Fok

    i like your tutorial is verry nice

  • A B

    Great tutorials! Thank you for sharing your knowledge in a very simple and easy to follow format!

  • Alisha Ram

    When I try to open the CS6 version, a pop-up appears saying "Could not find the linked file "Scan_Skull.jpg. Choose Replace to select another file or Ignore to leave the link unchanged." (the original scanned photo). What should I do?


    Thank you. Great tutorial as usual.

  • Martin Cirio

    I think I want to marry you. Thanks for these videos!

  • Helen Birch

    thanks – really useful

  • Diamond Sinclair

    I can't open the documents for episode 13 🙁 I'm learning a lot though…

  • Minh Vu

    thank you for these videos. I would be very grateful if u would add EnglishSub as soon as u can:).

  • SoFloSoFawny

    Great tutorials. Thank you so much. Be aware that some of the links have to be re-linked (Links panel) once you open the tutorial artboard file) ie. the Scan_Skull.jpg must be found in the (03>01>Assets folder and re-linked.

  • K Yan

    Great course, thank you very much

  • Alexander the not so great

    Hey, I'm not sure if it's ahead, but that looks like straight up mirroring since the details are completely identical.

  • Anjali Gupta

    Excellent tutorial..Thank you so much sir

  • Danthony TheGreat

    When I first started watching your videos, and I saw 1 of 19, I laughed wondering who would sit through 19 videos.

    After watching all 19 videos, I believe you are an incredible instructor. Your videos have helped me tremendously. Thank you for all of the time and effort you put into your work.

  • Nelda Taylor

    I am using this as a tutorial for my high school design class, but I am unable to open any of the skill images. What can I do to get these to open?

  • Alfie Edwards

    oh. my. GOD. how many times do i have to tell you? STOP USING AN APPLE OS! apple is for losers, hipsters, and idiots. i told you on your last 2 tutorials to just use windows, please take my advice, or I might just go on a different tutorial. disliked.

  • cavenagy

    Question: What if you edit the lines after using the "trace tool" just like you do when doing the "pen tool" method? wouldn't that give a similar result with less time than just using the "pen tool method"?


    u r my hero men

  • Helpdesk Ha

    These tutorials very helpful for newbie like me, love it ^.^

  • Jsvlad js

    the colors show up black and white and gray.. any tips on how to avoid this?

  • Jessie Campos

    Bless this Guy! Your my Angel! 👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻

  • Divya Kavdia

    can you tell me in detail about the advanced options of image tracel like path,corners,noiseetc

  • Trishan Chandarana

    Thanks for the videos, they have been helpful. I have been watching it from episode 1 however this episode and the next episode doesn't have any subtitles so is it possible to turn on CC as I am Deaf and need captions to understand it. Thanks once again for the videos

  • Hassam Ali

    any university will be happy to hire someone like you with pretty handsome salary. Students are always looking for some good tutorials because they don't understand in universities like they do in paractical work

  • Whitley Beaver

    Thanks again

  • no One

    i need a help plzzz..
    when ever i give trace command .. i mean i click on trace image it just vanish… and nothing remain .. every thing would just gone

  • Alexis Soh

    You are amazing! Thank you for all your hard work!! Very grateful 🙂

  • Lili Tóth


  • Ivana Hlinková

    God, you are such a good teacher. I have not found better tutorials on the internet! Thanks so much for your work.

  • angel tarantino


  • J

    Although these tutorials are BAD ASS some of the practice elements didn't download and transfer correctly. 🙁

  • Justin Rivet

    So I was browsing Instagram and noticed your skull logo being utilized for a clothing brand, not sure about tje copyright behind the skull I figured it would be best to notify you, don't know how else to do this aside from a youtube comment.

  • ahmed shazly

    Thanks a million for your wonderful ,easy to understand and amazing tutorials .
    God bless you and thank you again and again

  • Eric Briceno

    Episode 14, now I'm starting to talk like THIS!

  • Mariana Trindade

    Thank you so much for these tutorials! You´re amazing!

  • Diego Andrés

    I just started checking your channel but I already know this is going to be one of the most useful ones for my entire career, you deserve really good things in your life man, you rock!


    Finally, Someone who has explained things I can follow, Thank You Artist.

  • Arslan Yousaf

    You can't imagine how much i love these tutorials. Seriously man you're SUPPER AWESOME.

  • Herry Yufrin

    Thank you for your kindness to share

  • Jacob Weaver

    Your voice is friggin annoying. Nice work though

  • Bryan Le

    This course is so empowering. I feel more confident with each tutorial I go through. I honestly can't thank you enough.

  • YuvaRaj UV

    Thanks a lot!

  • Dhruv Arora

    Most people drooling over the accent don't know that all the voiceover in this video is done by some Robotic voice, fools!

    Great tuts though xx.

  • Lil Mellyy

    your videos are so good just like your dick

  • Reem Ab

    hi, i need help
    when i copy and paste the artwork to trace it, upon pasting a a window pops that says:"the document's embedded color profile does not match the current CMYK working space……….embedded: coated GOGRA39 working: U.S. web coated"
    it pastes but when i trace it the image simply disappears. unless i put it on the greyscale option. thank you for your patience and could use some help.

  • Jess Baria

    This is a labour of love. Thank you, Tastytuts! I've learned Illustrator for free thanks to you.

  • Ed R

    Thumbs up for providing project files and organizing your sections. Attention to detail and great organization!

  • Peter Ndala

    When i apply image trace my drawing dissappears


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