The first thing that comes to your mind when thinking about a vector image is Adobe Illustrator. This professional graphics software is used by almost every designer on the planet and can seem a bit intimidating to any new users who want to learn some basic tasks like how to vectorize an image.
A picture created by a digital camera is called a raster or bitmap image. Those images are made out of a rectangular matrix of pixels (points of color), and a pixel is the smallest picture element on a display screen.
Vector images are graphics made up of points, lines, and curves that are built by mathematical formulas. Vector graphics are resolution-independent and you can do unlimited resizing without losing any of the image quality in the process. It comes quite handy when you want to print an image in different sizes or make some digital art graphics.
This tutorial will show you how to turn pixelized image format to vector image in Adobe Illustrator. And you can check some of our other tutorials on how to use Adobe Photoshop.
- 1 Creating a Vector in Adobe Illustrator
- 1.1 Step 1. Open raster image
- 1.2 Step 2. Open Image Tracing Workspace
- 1.3 Step 3. Select the image and check the Preview button
- 1.4 Step 4. Choose Preset option
- 1.5 Step 5. Adjust Paths, Corners, and Noise
- 1.6 Step 6. Click the Trace button
- 1.7 Step 7. Expand the image
- 1.8 Step 8. Save the vector image
Creating a Vector in Adobe Illustrator
Step 1. Open raster image
Open your image file (JPG, PNG, etc.) in Illustrator by clicking File > Open.
We choose this ice-cream image, but you can check million of other free high-quality photos on Wunderstock website.
Step 2. Open Image Tracing Workspace
Illustrator has a special tool called Image Trace for vectorizing images. You can find it by following these navigation steps: Window > Workspace > Tracing
It will now open a new workspace tab which will become active once you select the inserted image. The icon is in the top right angle of the Control panel and looks like this .
In the Image Trace panel click on the Preview button (bottom-left corner). This way you can see the outline of an image in vector format.
Step 4. Choose Preset option
Now it is time to play around with presets depending on the effect you want to achieve. Check out the Preset drop-down menu and choose the one that fits your need. Presets are the pre-determined configuration of settings that will automatically be applied to the image after choosing one.
These are your options:
- Custom - if you are a beginner in using Illustrator, we suggest you some of the other preset options from the list until you get the feel of what effect you want to achieve.
- High Fidelity Photo — photorealistic high-quality vector reproduction.
- Low Fidelity Photo - fairly similar to High Fidelity effect but creates a simplified vector outline.
- 3 Colors, 6 Colors, and 16 Colors — pretty much self-explanatory presets. The vector image will have a range of three, six, or 16 colors.
- Shades of Grey - grayscale vectorized image.
- Black and White Logo - basically what the name is saying. Creates a simple logo in B&W colors.
- Sketched Art, Silhouettes, Line Art, and Technical Drawing — creates simplified B&W drawings out of a photo format. If you are, or planning to become a stencil artist this option will definitely make your life much easier.
Step 5. Adjust Paths, Corners, and Noise
You can further advance your vector image by adjusting Paths, Corners, and Noise.
- Paths - Dragging the slider to the right makes the vector with more accurate corner points, while dragging it to the left/lower value will create smoother edges.
- Corners - This option will make image corners sharpened in case of higher value and smoother in case of lower value.
- Noise — if you drag the slider to the left, the vector will pick up most of the details from the original image. If you drag it to the right/higher value most of the image areas will not be visible in the outlook. The lower the number, fewer pixels needed, so there will be a more detailed (or noisy) trace. The higher the number, the more areas of an image will be ignored, and the vector will be in much less detail.
Once you are satisfied with your vector result, uncheck the Preview option (this is a really important step, otherwise the Trace button will not be active) and click the Trace in the bottom right corner of the Image Trace panel.
Step 7. Expand the image
The last thing you need to do before Illustrator starts converting your image into a vector is clicking on the Object > Expand button, and you will see the blue lines that Illustrator recognized as the vector image. It looks something like this:
Step 8. Save the vector image
If there are some areas or an object you want to delete before saving the image, you can select the path you don’t like and hit the backspace button. In the end, all you have to do is save the image by clicking on File > Save As and choose a vector image format. There are a variety of vector image formats (PDF, AI, EPS, SVG). The most common ones are PDF for print or SVG for web. We choose SVG format.
If you haven’t done any heavy editing in the preset section, your vectorized image will look pretty much the same as the raster image. Only when you zoom in the image and check for details, you will notice that the vector will not pixelate no matter how many times you enlarge the image, while the raster image will lose resolution quality when enlarged.
Now you have learned how to vectorize an image. You may not be able to do it perfectly in the first time, but don’t get discouraged. After couple of “trial and error” you will be satisfied with the final result.