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Tracing images manually is both good practice and it also let's you take some artistic license with the image as you are tracing it. However, Illustrator CS3 has a wonderful feature called Live Trace that will do all of the tracing work for you. Let's go ahead and hide our tracing layer by clicking the Eyeball icon to the far left of Layer 2.
As we have been doing so far in this lesson, let's select all of the paths, to make up this object, group them together, and move them out of the way. Going up to the Selection arrow, pressing and dragging around my paths and then using the Ctrl+G or Command +G on a Macintosh, keyboard shortcut.
I am also going to double-click on the Hand tool to zoom out, to fit in window and then using the Selection Tool; I am going to press and drag to move my object to the upper left hand corner. Because this object is not having a fill, you cannot press and drag it from the center of the object. You have to press and drag on one of the paths and then click to deselect. Go ahead and close the Layer Palette and then go up to the File menu and choose Place.
The higher the resolution of your placed image, the easier it will be for Live Trace to create a vector based version of that image. For that reason, I am going to open up the Hi-Res Joly Roger.tif and click the Place button. The object is automatically selected and if you look at the Control palette, in the middle of the Control palette there is a Live Trace button. Clicking this button we will activate Live Trace to create a vector based version of this pixel based object.
Go ahead and click on Live Trace now. That's all there is to it. Go ahead and do a Ctrl+Z or Command+Z to undo that and I want to show you some of the Presets for Live Trace. Click on the dropdown menu to the right of the Live Trace button to see some of the presets for Live Trace. You will see that there are Color images, Photographic images, Hand Drawn Sketches, Comic Book Art, Black and White Logos etcetera. Picking the correct Presets gives you the best output when you use Live Trace. This is clearly a black and white logo, so I am going to choose Black and White Logo and Live Trace is applied using that setting.
The reason that Live Trace is called Live trace is that the effects are applied dynamically. You can change your Presets to get a different outcome without having to undo or redo Live Trace over and over again.
On the far left hand side is a Preset menu. Click on that dropdown and choose Photo High Fidelity. It's takes a little while for Live Trace to process the image but then it shows you the finished product. Because this is such a simple image, the differences are fairly subtle. The black isn't as rich a black as it was before and some of the details on the cross bones and some of the outlines are a little bit different than they were.
We are going to do another Live Trace with a more complex image and there you will see drastic differences in the output based on which Preset we use. For now let's go back to Black and White Logo and what we are going to do now is click on the Expand button. The Expand button tells Live Trace, we are done changing setting; we want you to actually make this real.
So click on Expand and now you have a vector based outline of your bit-mapped image. Let's shrink this down a little bit, I am just holding down the Shift key and dragging from the corner and we will move this into our storage area and click to deselect.
Let's place one more image, we will do another Live Trace but we will choose some different settings. Go up to the File menu, choose Place. And the file that we want to place is Ducky.tif. It's an old favorite from the Photoshop samples. It's kind of big, so let's shrink it down. I am going to hold down the Spacebar and drag upwards so that I can see the lower right hand corner. I am going to let go over the Spacebar and hold down the Shift key so that I can drag this for maintaining perfect proportions and then I am going to hold down the Spacebar and drag back down.
And then I will just drag this into the middle of my document. That looks good enough. Just as before, the object is selected and the Live Trace button is available on the Control palette, from the dropdown choose Photo High Fidelity. It's going to take a little while for Illustrator to process this and then we get what is a remarkably good version of our bit-mapped image, only in vectors.
While we are here, let's take a look at a couple of the other Presets and you will notice that the changes are drastically different, now that we have a more complex image. Go to the Preset menu, choose Black and White Logo and the result that we get is not even usable. Go back up to the Preset menu, choose Comic Art. It's a little closer but it's not going to do a good job.
Let's try Photo Low Fidelity. That's better and in fact, I like it better than Photo High Fidelity. So let's go ahead and Expand it. You can see all of the paths that were used to create this vector based version of the image, let's resize this. Again holding down the Shift key and dragging, I am going to hold down the Spacebar, drag upwards and then I am going to let go over the Spacebar and just press and drag this next to the Joly Roger file and then I am going to click to deselect.
We now have five more objects in our image library, created using the Pencil tool, the Paint Brush tool, manually tracing an image or by using a Live Trace, on both a simple and a complex image.