Chapter 13. Using Live Trace


  • Understanding Live Trace

  • Learning Live Trace modes

  • Setting Live Trace options

  • Tracing with Live Trace

In this chapter, I introduce Live Trace, which takes the art of using bitmap images as the basis for Illustrator documents to a new and exciting level. You can use this tool to create vector-based graphics from raster images, but that description hardly even hints at the possibilities that Live Trace opens up for you.

Understanding Live Trace

As you're aware by now, Illustrator is primarily a vector-based graphics application. Quite simply put, Illustrator is able to handle vector images with far more adeptness than it can raster (or bitmap) images. To most people, however, the format of an image is far less important than how that image appears. Sometimes, only a bitmap will do the job. For example, digital photos are always bitmap images — never vector images. If you need to use a digital photo in your Illustrator document, you have to import it as a bitmap image.

Even though you have to import digital photos as bitmap images, you may not have to leave them in that format inside of Illustrator. There are many instances where a vector-based representation of the photo is just what you need. Consider the example shown in Figure 13.1. The image on the left is a hand sketched drawing, and on the right is the result of using the Live Trace tool to convert the image into a drawing that looks like a hand-drawn sketch...but with sharper lines.

Figure 13.1. The ...

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