Need vectors for a project?
Shutterstock has millions and is constantly adding more. Explore our plans today.
Explore Now

How Do I Trace an Image in Illustrator?

Just like some artists trace an original image on a new canvas for a project, graphic artists also use tracing to create something unique. In the Illustrator program, you can virtually trace an image to make something totally different. Once you learn how the trace function works, you can start thinking of new ways to add visual interest to your projects. Whether you’re a professional designer or someone who likes to use Illustrator for fun, the trace tool can be a useful feature. Here are ideas about how to trace an image in Illustrator.
 
Start With an Image
 
If you want to use the trace function, you need to choose the right kind of image first. The best way to learn how to trace an image in Illustrator is to select a scanned image, photograph or a raster file. The trace function will essentially allow you to transform the picture into vector art. Vector art can be much easier to manipulate or use for various graphic art projects. If you want to give a real photograph more of an illustrated look, the trace option can help.
 
Automatic Tracing
 
Next, select the image by clicking on the circle target icons around the perimeter of the image. If you want Illustrator to automatically trace the entire canvas, simply click on the “Image Trace” option at the top toolbar. If you’re happy with the new look of your image, you can stop at this point. Illustrator gives you plenty of other options to tweak your image even more during the tracing project and get a customized look if you simply adjust a few settings.
 
Customized Tracing
 
Some users want a little more control over their project than the quick “Image Trace” tool allows. One way to get a more custom look is to use the preset trace dropdown menu before starting the tracing process. With this menu, you can make the traced product look a little more unique, with three colors, shades of gray or a silhouette look. If you want even more control over specific sections of your project, you can select the image again. Then, click on expand, and you’ll see the image mapped out with various points. If you click on different sections, you can adjust colors, borders and shading for a specific look. 
 
With Illustrator, you can control the direction of your project, whether you need an intricate design or something quick.
  • Was this article helpful?

Can’t find what you’re looking for?