Illustrator: Tracing full-color artwork | lynda.com

Illustrator: Tracing full-color artwork | lynda.com


In this exercise, we are going to take this
black and white scan that we created in the previous exercise and we are going
to convert it to a full color scan. And when I say full color, I don’t mean the
full 16.8 million colors that you get with an 8 bit per channel digital image,
which is where we started with this Mayan astronaut here. Rather I mean, you might have, for example,
256 colors, or you might have 20 colors, or something along those lines. You are not going to have anywhere in the
millions of colors because you don’t want that. You would have so many paths. It would just be quite unmanageable. If you want that, stick inside Photoshop. Keep it an image in the first place. But one of the big reasons for converting
an image into an illustration is not only to keep it nice and smooth and super
-sharp but also to distill it down into its core ingredients, the most essential ingredients
required to impart this artwork to the viewer. So I’ve gone ahead and saved my progress as
B&W astronaut.ai, and by the way, if your thumbnails here inside the Layers
palette take a little bit of time to update, don’t fret. That’s normal behavior for Illustrator. Anyway, I went ahead and meatballed the tracing
item, after twirling open the Image layer so that this item is selected,
and then I’m going to go up to the Tracing Options dialog icon and click on it
to bring up my Tracing Options dialog box and we are going to make a few
changes. Now I urge you not to turn on the Preview
checkbox at this point in time because if you do, every single modification you make
will require Illustrator to put up a progress bar and spend several seconds thinking
about what kind of modifications it’s going to make to your artwork. So you might as well rough it the stuff that
you know you want to change first and then turn on Preview, and that’s what
we are going to be doing as well. So we know we don’t want the mode to be Black
and White. We could go with Grayscale, if we want it
to, for various shades of gray. But really what we want is color. So I’m going to go ahead and choose Color
from the Mode menu. The palette you are going to leave set to
Automatic so that Illustrator can automatically make a judgment about which
colors it wants to use. I am also going to change this Max Colors
value. We don’t want it to be 6. That’s way too low. I’m going to go ahead and crank it up, let’s
say to something like 24 colors actually. I’ll just go ahead and enter that numerical
value right there. You can take this value by the way as high
as 256, which is still very small number compared to 16.8 million colors, but
as I say, much wiser as well. It would take Illustrator forever to calculate
that many colors. Anyway, let’s take this value to 24 as I say. I am going to want to output every single
one of these colors as swatches and we’ll see what that means because notice my
Swatches palette is pretty clean at this point. We just have None, the Registration Swatch,
and White and Black, and that’s it. No colors, that is to say. I do not want to blur my artwork. I almost– you know what? I’ll go so far as to say I just never do that. But you can experiment with it if you want. Now I’m going to take the Resolution value
down to 75 pixels per inch, that is to say, which is a quarter of its
actual resolution. And I’ve found over time that it’s good to
go with regular fractions like one quarter of the original resolution, as opposed
to taking this value down to something like 72, which isn’t exactly divisible
onto 300, because you start getting weird results once you do that. All right, now, just to get a sense of what
kind of effect we are going to get, we might as well turn on the Preview checkbox
and then we can start playing with our changes after that point. We know that these are going to be some good
settings for our colors, for the colors that we want to change inside of the
image. But what kind of Path Fitting modifications
and so on are we going to want to make? Well, we are going to need to see actually
what Illustrator comes up with to make those kinds of decisions. And I would say, right at this point, we have
some pretty good detail going on, but we also have some very wobbly lines as
a result of the Path Fitting being set to 1 pixel. So let’s go ahead and take that up to 4 pixels,
press the Tab key in order to update that preview, and then we are going
to see much smoother lines this time around. I think that actually looks pretty darn good. Now if you want more detail inside of your
tracing, then you would take this Minimum Area value down, and I’m going to
take that value down to 25 pixels and press the Tab key. And now we are going to get much more detail
inside of our artwork. So it’s up to you. Do you want to distill it down to just the
most essential ingredients, in which case take Minimum Area up, or do you want
to keep a lot of that cross-hatching and detail in which case you want to take
the Minimum Area value down? I am going to say let’s split the difference
by taking that value to 50 pixels and then pressing the Tab key, and even then
you’ll see over here not only do we have some very nice detail, very respectable
I think, but we also have 1800 paths, we’ve got 17500 anchor points, insane, and
so on and so on. I’m going to show you one thing here, and
this is going to take a long time to update this preview, but you can get some
really great results with a high resolution value. I just want you to know this. So I just entered a Resolution value of 300
pixels per inch and I went ahead and pressed the Tab key, and now we’ve really
got to wait for that progress bar as you are about to see here. Now we are going to go ahead and speed it
up because there is no sense in just sitting here waiting for it, but you can expect
if you are working along with me for this progress bar to be up on screen for
quite a bit of time. But once the process completes, you are going
to see some amazing detail inside of this illustration. So even though we have a high Minimum Area
value and a high Path Fitting value, which allows Illustrator to vary quite a bit
from the original lines, this looks a heck of a lot like our original scanned
line art, only super smooth. So we could zoom in on this guy and print
it on the side of a bus and blow it up as big as we want it to be. So some good looking artwork is what I’m trying
to say, but I’ll tell you what. Again I’m all about distilling this guy down
to his most essential ingredients. So what I’m going to do is I’m going to take
this high resolution value back to 75 pixels. The nice thing is we aren’t going to get a
progress bar. It’s going to go by
way more quickly than before, and then once we are done, I’ll go ahead and click
on that Trace Button in order to finalize the artwork. Now then, I’ll tell you that it’s a really
good idea to go ahead and save out that Preset. A preset for those settings, because after
all, every time you trace a new piece of artwork, Illustrator goes back to the defaults. So it won’t remember these color settings. It will remember the settings that you have
applied to this specific piece of artwork but it won’t remember them in the
future. So good idea to save a preset. Just take a moment and all you need to do
now is go ahead and click on that little icon once again in order to bring up
the Tracing Options dialog box. It will remember the settings, because after
all you have your artwork selected right there. Then don’t worry about Preview. Don’t worry about changing anything, just
go ahead and click on the Save Preset button and let’s go ahead and call
this preset Full-color scanned art or something along those lines, and then click
OK, and then that will appear up here under Preset Option, then go ahead
and click Trace once again in order to save your changes and you will now
see that preset listed in the Control palette. Also notice that we have all 24 of our swatches
loaded here automatically into the Swatches palette and we’ll be modifying
those swatches. I’ll show you just how great these swatches
are in the next exercise.

Dereck Turner

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