Part 2: Adobe Illustrator Image Trace Vector Art For Hand Letterers | Melanie Greenwood | Skillshare

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Part 2: Adobe Illustrator Image Trace Vector Art For Hand Letterers

teacher avatar Melanie Greenwood, Designer & Founder of Vision City Studio

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

4 Lessons (19m)
    • 1. Image Trace Vectors Introduction

    • 2. Vector Image Trace In Illustator CC

    • 3. Save Vector As AI File Format

    • 4. Final Thoughts and Project Challenge

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About This Class


This course is a follow up to my other vector course entitled "Learn To Make Vector Art For Hand Lettering (Adobe Illustrator Pen Tool)". In this course, I am offering a second option for creating vector art in illustrator, for hand letterers. You will learn how to make vector art using the Auto Trace technique in Illustrator CC. This technique is a time effective skill that all hand letterers should know so they can make vector art in a short amount of time. 

Although the Image Trace skill in Illustrator sounds completely automatic, I will show you how to tweak the tools so that you are still in control of your artwork's final look. This skill is perfect for hand letterers who want to work with clients on logos, t-shirt art, banners, posters, skateboards, stickers, signage... you get the idea:)

I hope you enjoy this course and feel free to ask questions!

ps, I would love a great review, so please let me know if you enjoyed the course:)



Meet Your Teacher

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Melanie Greenwood

Designer & Founder of Vision City Studio


Welcome to the Print On Demand Course for Beginners!

In this course I am going to teach you how to create your own Print On Demand Products using Printify.

"Print On Demand" is when you add your own art or words to a product (shirts, hats, aprons, mugs etc...) and add that product to your online shop. When a customer buys the product, your print provider prints it, packages it and ships it directly to the customer for you. This eliminates the need to carry large amounts of stock and spend the money up front. Hence the name "Print On Demand". It's a wonderful thing!

In this course, you will learn:

1. Why I Chose Printify As My Print On Demand Provider.

2. How It Works! (5 Steps)

3. Pa... See full profile

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1. Image Trace Vectors Introduction: Hi, guys. Welcome to my course on how to convert your hand lettering into vector art. An illustrator using the auto trace technique. In this course, I'm going to get right to the point. This is a quick course, and I'm gonna show you a new skill that's going to save you. A ton of time, a ton of energy and a ton of stress. It's gonna be able to have you preserve your original art and still created as a digital format vector that you can apply it as a logo as a T shirt as a sign. Ah, carve it into wood. I mean, you name it. The sky's the limit. When it comes to vectors, vectors really preserve the quality of our pieces because it's not dependent on pixels. In other words, it's gonna look great when it's really big or really small. So say you're working with a client and they want you to send them a vector file. Or maybe you're working with a printer and they've requested vectors. I'm gonna show you the quickest, most simple way to convert your hand lettering into a vector so that that way you can send it off and you are going to be comfortable and know that it's going to show up the exact way that you've designed it originally, as you've hand lettered it. So join me in this chorus. Guys, I look forward to working with you as you build this new skill. 2. Vector Image Trace In Illustator CC: in this lecture. What we're going to do is show you how to create a really simple and effective quick way of converting your hand lettering in two vectors. Now, in my case, I have drawn this hand lettering piece using a micron and Sharpie thin line. Ah, pen and basically drawn this right onto paper. Then what I did is I photographed it using my iPhone, and I upped the contrast so that it's black and white and I obviously converted it to gray scale so you can do all the same. Say you're just starting out and you've never done any of this kind of technical stuff before. You can actually take your hand letter piece on paper and use maybe your smartphone or iPad or what have you, Teoh, take a photo of it, and a lot of times, just by lining it up, it's kind of close to as squared on is possible. As long as you have a pretty good lighting, you can do this really easily. Then you can actually converted to black and white on your phone or on your iPad. Um, and then you can actually up the contrast because we want to be high contrast for this technique. It's going to be really difficulty if it's a low contrast to say, if you have, like a light pink marker or something and you're using white paper, that's gonna be really difficult to do. Auto tracing, which is the first technique, so you can also a swell. You can also, um, scan. Ah, lot of people are using Maura photographic technique. Now day just goods more convenient and not everybody has a scanner, and you can actually do the photographing style of of ah, converting this into the computer anywhere you are. So say you're out on a train or you're on traveling somewhere. You're on a plane or what have you? You can actually be doing this kind of work on the go which, um, for myself has been really convenient. The reason why we do vectors is because, um, in the world of graphics is either vector or raster. The raster is basically photos. So all photos, which is what I'm looking at right now, by the way, even though it looks really clean, if I zoom into this, it's actually made up of pixels, which is what raster images are. So this is all looking really yucky when we move into it. It's not looking pretty at all. And we don't want it to look that way, because if this ever got blown up to like the side of a building, or like the side of a plane or I don't know the side of a bus or something, then you're going to see all that like unprofessional, yucky edges, right? And I don't know about you, but I've seen this stuff and out, you know, on the go. And I always think, man, I wish somebody just cleaned that up and made it into a vector because it would have looked way better. So, you know, if you're gonna convert any of your hand lettering and to say T shirts or logos or, um, anything skateboards, anything and everything you can think of stickers. Um, you know, you name it. Basically, all these things they're going to print a lot cleaner. Um, and a lot more pro if you have them converted to vector. Now, what a vector is again is a, um it's basically a line or ah, pathway of pen tool kind of points. That sounds kind of funny to those of you who are new, but ultimately it's basically like creating a shape, using your hand lettering. So instead of it looking like, you know, saying, Hello, darling, it's actually going to just all be one shape, which is really what we want in the end, because then that way we can scale it up or we can scale it down and it will always look the exact same, which is what we want. We want consistency. So without any further ado, I'm going to get into this technique, which is the auto tracing technique. So I'm going to select your V Tool, which is in the top left corner. You can always just ah, hit V or just click on this arrow, which is a black arrow. So select your scanned in image or your photo. In my case, I'm using a J peg. I mean, it's really up to you. You could use a pdf for Ah, a gift for whatever. But in my case, it's a J peg. We're going to go up to window, and we're gonna scroll down to image trace. Now, what comes up on the right side here is all the options for tracing camera zooming using my my said tool zoom tool just so that we can see what's happening. Okay, so I'm gonna select on here in the lower left hand corner down here. Is it says preview. Okay. Tracing may proceed slowly with this large image. Would you like to continue? So you're going to say yes or OK, so now it's tracing it for us, and right away you can see all of a sudden it's perfectly smooth, right? That's already looking a lot better. But if you're like me and your artist, you probably want to obsess a little bit more over it. Even if we're in a rush. And this is our fast way of doing things, we still want to make sure it looks we want it to. So we can actually use this as a kind like a palate, um, to change things around and make it as exactly how we want it to be. So right now, the preset on the image trace tool is set to default. We can always change it to be any of the options that are selected here. So technically, you know this high Fidelity photo. All those kind of things. They may not really apply because we're just using black and white, um, and then the shades of grey. Obviously, that's not applicable because we don't have any shades. But you can also use things like this, like black and white logo. That's basically just going to change it. Teoh resemble the idea of a black went logo. So it's just just 100% black at 100% white. There's no grace in this case. It didn't really even apply because technically, it already is that way. Um, view tracing results. So you can actually change that around here. In our case again, it doesn't really matter right now because we're just trying to make this into a quick vector, Okay? Motives black and white, which is fine. We don't want a graceful or color because there is no color. Now, threshold threshold is something that's really important. Um, so if I go more threshold, you're gonna actually make it. The whole thing look darker and thicker, so all the lines thickened up there, and if you go less, the lines are all gonna thin out a bit. So you're gonna have more white space around it and inside of it. So let's just stay around the middle, just so you can kind of see, um, how it looked originally. Now paths. You couldn't do that as well. You can switch this around. And as you play with these different things, you're going to see the results. So obviously it's going to differ depending on your project and what your style is now. Noise Not really applicable again, because obviously, we don't want noise. We don't want dots and texture in this case, um, methods. Okay, Fills? Yeah. We wanted to stay as a fill, not a strokes. In other words, you want the black to be filled in. Okay, so there you have it. Now we have it all Trace. We've already set the trace, as is so technically, we don't need to press trace again. It's great out because we already have traced it. It's almost as though we've been traced. We've traced it. And now we've had a live changes, which is a really cool feature of Illustrator CC. So if you're working on an earlier version illustrator, it may or may not have that option, but ultimately you can still do. Um, custom tracing, which is what we're doing. So we're gonna x out of here and there you have it. Now we have a way, way, way smoother Look to our art. But we're not completely done yet. There's still it's still a few more little steps that we're gonna do. What we're going to do is delete the background. The reason why we're going to do that is so that you can then apply this vector shape over top of any background you want over a texture over a photograph. It's basically going to eliminate this big white box that's surrounding your art. That's just super inconvenient when you want to apply it to other things. So we're going to select your a tool, which is the direct selection White Arrow, and we're going to just click and drag to select the background and then delete Pretty simple, right? Okay, Now, the next thing we're going to do is make sure that this is because it's him lettering, all these little area areas in between or inside of our letters, like inside of the H inside of the inside, the els in the O all these little shapes in here. Technically, we want to make sure that they are, um, not going to be showing up his white. We want them to be transparent. So just for the sake of showing you guys how to do this, I'm going to create another box behind here and just color, right? Like gray. So you could see. Okay, so all I did there was I selected the box tool, and now I'm making it. Oops. Making it great. Have you just double click on this area area here? Okay, it will pop up with a color picker to say, OK, select your V tool here, and you're going to, um, move it to back so you could do it two ways. You can go command shift left bracket, and it'll move back. Or you could go object, arrange sent back. Whatever you're more comfortable with. I find the quickies, like, with my fingers to be a lot easier, especially on a laptop. Okay, so now you can obviously see this is a bit of a problem, right? This looks kind of strange having all these white areas. So see, if this background gray here was actually a photo or something. Um then it's gonna look kind of strange, right? So we want to get rid of these so that we can then be sure that this is not only a graphic vector, but it's also transparent so that it can go over anything. So the first thing I do is going to select this gray background selected and regional command to Obviously I'm working on a Mac, so I'm not for sure what the lock tool or lock quick he is for on the PC. But for those of using a PC, I'm sure you could just go object lock. Yeah, Object luck. So command, too. Now our background is just locked, and obviously, I'm not gonna keep this background. I'm just using it for the time being. So I'm also now going to select the White Arrow and I'm going to click on just the black areas. So instead of selecting the entire thing, I'm going to slight just the edges. Now, when you select just the edges, you'll notice the insides are not selected. So that's what we want. We don't want the inside selected. And I'm also gonna select this little piece here because This is part of it right here and my little dot on top of my eye. So now, having all that selected, what I'm going to do is go to window down to Pathfinder. Oops. Window Pathfinder. Now there it ISS OK, like a little tool kit here. And I'm going to click on this first button that says unite shape modes. Unite. Now, what that did is it made my entire shape all, um, one item. So it made that hole all the black into one item. If I hadn't done that than my little kind of squiggly line here, little detail here and my I would not my dot would not be a part of what I'm doing, which is not what I want. So now, ominous like the whole thing. By using the white arrow again, I'm just gonna click on it or click on anywhere. Okay, See, now you can see that all of this is selected hopes. Or you could just go command a cowboys do that command a select all. And now we're going Teoh, do something that's called make a compound path. When we make a compound path that actually knocks out all of the central little areas, like all these white areas are gonna get knocked out. So you can do that one of two ways you go, command eight, Okay? Which is what I've just done and or let's just reverse that command said, or you can go up to here object, compound path make. But as you can see, it just says, come command eight. So that's the kind of quickie to do that. So you get the same result either way. Now, as you can see, something strange did happen, which is known to happen sometimes, which is Okay, So my eye and my little squiggly line here is still looking as an outline. And the reason why is because sometimes when you dio on auto trace, it creates different layers. We don't want them. So I'm actually gonna select the top layer, believe it or not, of the i dot and just delete it. So use the white arrow and just delete that. You see how that happened there? Okay. And then right here. So now I have ah, hand letter illustration. I can select the entire thing. And now I'm going to go. I want a group it just to make sure it's for sure. Not gonna budge. Object group. Or you can go command G some ago. Command G. Now, this is grouped. I can create any, um I could maybe make this black or dark Grey, whatever. Any color, Really, But say I just want to change the color. Um, I just can click on here and make that into any color so I can make it into a light gray. You get the idea? I could basically change this. Now, this is now a transparent vector of my hand lettering. Let's go back to black. Just you can see a nice and kind of clean on the screen. And now I'm going to just select command option two, which is going to unlock my gray background. Okay. And then I'm gonna delete the background. So they're only reason I add that background again was just to show you the difference between all the little white areas in between my letters. So I'm gonna go delete, and there you have it. Now, I have a really quick, um, traced graphic that could be applied to anything. This could be somebody's logo. This could go on a T shirt. This could go on a bus. This could go on side of a plane. This could go anywhere. Really Tiny are really large. And it's good to go now. One way that you can also just make sure that this is lined properly is by going command. Why? By going command, why you're going to see that this is now made up of just lines and shape. So it's all one big shape. Now, this is the beauty of illustrator. You can do a ton now with this. Now you can, um if you wanted to, you could fill this with different colors with radiance, you can put a texture inside. You can do all kinds of different things which I'm not going to show you in this specific lecture. But this is basically the beauty of illustrator and a beauty of learning this skill as a hand letter. So there you have it. We're all done, and this can now be sent to any printer or even sent off another designer that you're working with 3. Save Vector As AI File Format: Hi, guys. I wanted to be sure to let you know to save that as an AI file. So goto file Save as and look for a i, which is going to be the file format for vectors. This is also the native file format for Illustrator, so it's really important to get familiar with saving files as an AI and then actually sending those a eyes to those people that you might be working with. So if your client needs your file, are the file you're working on in ah illustrator format or a vector format? They're going to be looking for a I. Whether they know it or not, that's what you're going to be sending them. If a printer is requesting the vector format for something, they're looking for a ai file, an illustrator file. So be sure to save in that format so that it preserves the vectors qualities 4. Final Thoughts and Project Challenge: Hi, guys. Thank you for taking my course on converting your hand Lettering is to vector an illustrator using the auto trace technique. I hope you guys have really enjoyed this course as much as I've enjoyed making it for you, And I think it's a really awesome technique to now. No. And you can apply it even two illustrations if you're working on those as well. But this course is really designed for us hand letters who want to I really do things by hand and still preserve that quality as we're converting it to vectors. So I really hope this is served you guys and I would encourage you to go ahead and try a project. So say you're not even working with a client in this in this situation, and you maybe want to just try out this new skill. I would say Go ahead and go for it and try a hand letter piece, even if it's just a short word or even at one letter, and then apply it and actually get it onto your computer. Maybe you take a photo of it with your iPhone the way I did, or maybe you, you know, scan it. That's up to you to brand onto your computer and bring it into illustrator and give it a try. Go ahead and try this auto trace technique that I've just described. And I hope it really helps you. I encourage you to post it, share it with us. Let us know what you think and posted in the Skill Share project section, and I look forward to seeing your work.