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How Do I Convert an Image to a Vector in Illustrator?

There is no scarcity of images on the internet, but not all are created equal. Most of the images floating around on the web are of very low quality. As a designer, you need to be able to take the average PNG or JPG image and turn it into a high-quality, vector graphic. Fortunately, you can do this fairly easily with Illustrator. Ready to learn how to convert image to vector in Illustrator? Follow these instructions.
  • Select an Image
Select an image you want to convert to vector. Single subject images typically convert to vector files more smoothly than images with multiple subjects. You’ll also have better luck if the image has a fairly low resolution and transparent or white background.
  • Duplicate the Image
Create a traced duplicate of the image by using the Image Trace tool. You can use the replicated image to create your vector. To do this, open and select the image in Illustrator. Then, select either Low Fidelity Photo or High Fidelity Photo from the dropdown menu located next to Image Trace. Hi-fi typically works best with high-resolution images while lo-fi is usually the better option for low-quality PNG and JPG images.
  • Separate Color Groups
When you trace your image in step 2, all of the colors are grouped into shapes fitting the original image. Before you can create your vector file, you’ll need to separate the color groups. Start by selecting the image you just traced, then clicking the Expand button (located at the top of the Illustrator window). Now, when you select your image, it should be surrounded by a blue outline.
Right-click on the image, then choose Ungroup from the pop-up menu. Now you have the ability to separate your color shapes. The color groups should be separated into individual layers in the Layers panel if you have done this step correctly.
  • Edit Your Image
Now that your image is a vector, you can edit it as desired. Delete color shapes or modify color groups to achieve the look you want.
  • Save Your Image

There are many formats you can use when saving your image as a vector, including EPS, SVG, AI and PDF. Choose the file type you want, then go to your File menu, Select Export, then Export As, and enter the title of your file. Congratulations! You have successfully converted image to vector in Illustrator.
While it’s useful to know how to convert low-quality images to vector files, you can avoid this step if you choose high-quality photos in the first place. Shutterstock offers an impressive variety of stock photos you can use to take your designs to the next level with minimal effort.
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