Create a Vector Illustration using Image Trace | Taylor Shannon | Skillshare

Playback Speed

  • 0.5x
  • 1x (Normal)
  • 1.25x
  • 1.5x
  • 2x

Create a Vector Illustration using Image Trace

teacher avatar Taylor Shannon, Illustrator and Surface Pattern Designer

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

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

9 Lessons (28m)
    • 1. Hello and Class Project

    • 2. Sketching and Inspiration

    • 3. Uploading Sketches

    • 4. What is a Vector?

    • 5. Let's Digitize #1: Image Trace & Smoothing

    • 6. Let's Digitize #2: Coloring Outside Lines

    • 7. Let's Digitize #3: Coloring Inside Shapes

    • 8. Let's Digitize #4: Adding Texture

    • 9. Final Thoughts

  • --
  • Beginner level
  • Intermediate level
  • Advanced level
  • All levels

Community Generated

The level is determined by a majority opinion of students who have reviewed this class. The teacher's recommendation is shown until at least 5 student responses are collected.





About This Class

In this class you’ll turn your own sketch into a vector illustration using Adobe Illustrator's Image Trace tool! You will learn various techniques for using Illustrator to bring your design to life. Some Illustrator tools and techniques we will be using include image trace, the smooth tool, the blob brush tool, the live paint bucket tool, and the shapebuilder tool. You will also learn how to add some vectorized texture to your illustration to bring it to life. I’ll take you through my typical workflow as I create a vector-based illustration!

This class is for anyone who has wanted to dabble in Adobe Illustrator, or for those who want to expand their skills. This class can be a springboard into creating your own digital illustrations with a hand-drawn look to them. Some basic knowledge of Illustrator (like setting up files, saving, etc.) is preferred, but you can take this class even if you have no prior experience with the program.

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Taylor Shannon

Illustrator and Surface Pattern Designer


Hey there!
I'm a surface pattern designer and illustrator with a love of pattern design, hand lettering, and bright fresh color combinations! 

I work in art licensing, but also love to find time for my own personal projects, where I'm constantly experimenting with different types of design. Here's a fun fact...I'm a totally self-taught artist! I'm an example of how a lot of passion and hard work can launch you into a fulfilling career that you've always wanted! My motto for my career (and life itself!) is to never stop learning and growing!


Feel free to connect with me on Instagram or check out my website. I'd love to hear from you!

See full profile

Class Ratings

Expectations Met?
  • 0%
  • Yes
  • 0%
  • Somewhat
  • 0%
  • Not really
  • 0%
Reviews Archive

In October 2018, we updated our review system to improve the way we collect feedback. Below are the reviews written before that update.

Why Join Skillshare?

Take award-winning Skillshare Original Classes

Each class has short lessons, hands-on projects

Your membership supports Skillshare teachers

Learn From Anywhere

Take classes on the go with the Skillshare app. Stream or download to watch on the plane, the subway, or wherever you learn best.


1. Hello and Class Project: Hi, everyone. Thank you for joining me in my first skill share class. My name is Taylor Shannon, and I'm a surface pattern designer and illustrator living in Portland, Oregon. In this class, you will learn how to create a fund vector illustration from a sketch the same I've chosen this cup takes. But feel free to create whatever you want. Well, briefly touch on my favorite sketching tools and techniques. Then I'll take you through setting up your Adobe illustrator file and show you my workflow and the illustrator tools that I use in love. In the end, you'll have acute vector illustration, and I hope you'll share your completed project. Your class project will be to sketch a cupcake or anything you want. Bring your sketches into Adobe Illustrator and using the tools I'm going to teach you. Turn your sketch into a vector. Illustration. Share your sketches and finished illustration with class. I often use this design technique to create illustrations and pattern designs. This is a great class. If you're in you to digital illustrations and want to get started creating your own designs , I hope you enjoy the class. Let's get started 2. Sketching and Inspiration: So let's talk about sketching. You can use whatever tools you want to sketch. Some artists prefer professional tools. Some, like may use less expensive tools for pencil sketches. I tend to use just a plain a big mechanical pencil. Sometimes I also use some sketching pencils. These artists lost pencils can be found for a great price that Michael's and other craft stores. My favorite pin of choice is a Sharpie find tip pen. I've also used the micro on pins that a lot of artists love, but I always come back to my simple Sharpie. These they're super easy to find, and they're great for sharp lines and sketching another one. My favorite pins is the paper mate Flare pan. It's got more of a felt tip, and I love using it for hand lettering, especially. I also love a good old fashioned Sharpie. Are you sharpies to create sketches, texture and hand lottery? When it comes to paper, you can use a sketchbook or just plain printer paper. I used loose partner paper on a clipboard. I found that when I use a sketchbook, I put a lot of pressure on myself to create quote unquote perfect work, but just using loose printer paper helps me to just get my ideas on paper quicker. You know, when it comes to inspiration, you've been an inspiration from just about anything. My favorite places to get inspired for sketching are the following Pinterest. If you don't have a Pinterest, what are you doing? You should probably consider getting one. It's free, and it's easy to kind of collect images as inspiration. I have tons of different Pinterest boards for different topics. I also get a lot of inspiration from books, magazines or catalogues and even recipe books. I found that going through antique shows and looking at vintage designs really helps inspire me as well, especially if you were really drawn to that mid century modern kind of feel. When it comes to design, taking a walk outside can bring on a lot of inspiration, especially if you're wanting to sketch flowers or anything nature related. And finally, just looking around when you're out shopping is a great way to see what inspires you funds and products that you like and use the design, texture, color, whatever you like about it to bring you inspiration when you're sketching in the future 3. Uploading Sketches: When it comes to getting your sketches into Adobe Illustrator, there are two main methods to use. You could use a scanner to scan your images into the computer. Or you could just take a photo of your sketches with your smart phone and email yourself the images. I tend to use the second method. I found that my iPhone can get pretty high quality photos of my sketches. I'll just take a photo, email it to myself and then download the image into my computer and drag it into Adobe Illustrator. I would highly recommend this this method, but if you already have a scanner that you're comfortable with, that's a great option two. 4. What is a Vector?: So I keep talking about vectors. What exactly is a vector? I'm going to give you a quick run through of rosters versus vectors, so a raster image is made up of pixels. These pixels can blend well and create greedy INTs. Raster files are typically larger than vector files and some common raster file types or tiff. JPEG and GIF files some examples of raster files or photos and paintings. No vectors. Our image is made up of mathematical calculations and points, shapes and lines. They should be skilled upper down without losing their clarity. You can also edit the color of a vector foul easily. Certain vector Thal types are E P, s, AI, PDF and PNG files. Some examples of vectors are logos, T shirt designs and any clean, scalable artwork, which is what we're going to be working on today. 5. Let's Digitize #1: Image Trace & Smoothing: So you're going to want to open up a new document in Illustrator and then bring your sketch in. I have mine over here on my desktop, so I'm just gonna drag it into illustrator and then I'm going Teoh skillet down and already have a color palette pulled in right here. And then I've got it over here. My swatches panel. If you're missing any of these panels over here, you can just go to window and then find the one that you're looking for and just drag it in to save. So we're going to go ahead and image, trace our sketch so quick on the sketch and then go up here. You'll see image trace If you clicked the triangle to the side, Um, always choose sketch art. That one usually works pretty well for me. Um, it keeps a lot of the texture and also I'll show you, it's it takes away the white from the background, so it'll just use the black, which is really nice. You don't have to go remove the white yourself so I can see in some areas, like right here. It didn't pick up all of that from the sketch So I'm going to go up here to the Image trace panel and then drag the threshold up just a little bit, Okay? That looks a lot better. So it connected that one. So I'm gonna go ahead and click expand, and then I'm gonna hit command shift G a couple of times, toe un group everything. And so now we've got a vector. You consume it as much as you want, and your image is very clear. So I'm going to use my direct selection tool, which is right here on the toll panel. Or you can hit a on your keyboard, gonna select the cupcake. And as you can see, there are a lot of anchor points, so we need to simplify that a little bit. The way I typically used to simplify anchor points is I'll go over here to the smooth tool , which is under the under the shaper tool. Click on that. And then once you click on your image, you can drag and you can see it smoothed out and remove a lot of anchor points and just smooth your image. So this is a great way, Teoh. It's without your image. Make it a little bit simplified. Sometimes you have to go over it a few times to get it to really click. This tool is very interesting, and I would definitely recommend experimenting with it and playing around with it if you haven't before, especially if you work with a lot of vectors that are image traced. There we go zoom out a little bit and I'll click or a hit command h to hide anchor points. And now you can see it's a lot smoother. It just looks more natural. So that's one way that I use. Um, when told that I used to smooth out my illustration. Another tool you can use is I'll show you on this flag, be selected and then go to objects path, simplify and then make sure you have preview checked and this panel will show you how many anchor points you currently have. So right now you have 189 Um, and if you well, if you drag it all the way up, you'll have 189. So if you drive down the curve precision now you have 59 points. That's a little too few points, so I'm gonna drag it back up, maybe to 98%. It looks a lot better and it to get rid of quite a few points. You can also click straight lines if you want to, if you want a straight line. But obviously I want some curves, so I'm gonna go ahead and hit. OK, that was a little bit better. I probably would still use the small, smooth tool and just go ahead and smooth of these pieces out a little bit. Now if you want to get this inside part, as you can see, I'm trying. It's not really working. It's still working on the outside. So if you want to smooth out these inside areas, you have to click off of the image and then click back on it and start the first time you click and hold. Start on the inside, and now you can see it's always smoothing on the inside. So now we got inside. Smooth it out if you wanted to go in here and say You want this to be a little bit more pointed, um, hit command age to pull up your anchor point of view and what I typically will do. I'll choose my direct selection tool or hit a on my keyboard, and then I'll go over here under the pen tool and either click delete anchor point or I'll hit the minus sign on my keyboard, and then you can. It's attract a few of these points kind of player on the anchor points to get them to look exactly the way you want. Teoh. Of course, you could do that for the entire image, but it would take a while. And you have to remind yourself, you don't want it to look 100% perfect. You want it to have that hand drawn quality to it. That's something I have to constantly remind myself, too, because I'm such a perfectionist. I want to go in its smooth out everything and make it perfect. But sometimes illustrations just look really good with that kind of funky, different kind of look to them. So I'm gonna use the smoothing tools smooth out the rest of this cupcake to, and as you can see when I'm changing the section that I'm serving out, I'm clicking off and then clicking back on the image so I can't really go back and forth between these two sections because they're sectioned off. So that's something you have to remember when you're playing around the smooth tool. I think practice really makes perfect for this. Once I started using it a lot, it just became second nature for me. And now it's like, I don't even really have to think about it. My brain just makes it work. So I'm gonna go and Smith out the rest of this, and then I'm also going to smooth out this little cake stand and my Sprinkles and my hello , and I will meet you in the next lesson. 6. Let's Digitize #2: Coloring Outside Lines: Okay, so now I've got all of my shapes moved out, and they look the way I want them to. So now I'm ready to start coloring. So I want this cup take liner to be one color at least, the outline of it. And then I want this part of the cupcake the icing to be a different color. But if I select the whole thing and then click on a color, it makes everything the same color. And I want these to be separate. So I'm going to have to tweak this a little bit and play around with it to show you how Teoh separate everything so that you can color everything separately. So, as an example, I have the strawberry over here. This is what it looked like after I image traced and turn it into a vector. It's just got the black stroke, and it's got a no Phil background, So Teoh add color to it. What I had to dio is I had two separate everything, so I had to separate the stem completely, and then I added in the color inside of it had to separate it from the strawberry. I couldn't just click on one and and easily color the whole thing. So I'm gonna show you how to do that with the cupcake right now. Okay, To separate these two pieces, I'm gonna make a duplicate. So I'm just gonna click on the image, hold on option and then drag to copy. So first of all, I want to get just the cupcake liner by itself. So I'm gonna make sure I have the whole image selected and then hit shift E on my keyboard or go up to the racer tool and you can change the size of the racer by hitting the left and right brackets on your keyboard. I could make it pretty big, okay? And I just want to cut off the pieces where it is intersecting with a cupcake. So that's good. Then I'll select the cupcake and delete, and then I'll go in and just smooth out those edges. Okay, that's good. So now for this one, I want Teoh delete the cupcake liner. I'm gonna do the same thing. Choose my eraser tool, and I'm just gonna go in here and delete that line where it's connecting co cake. It's the liner. And then right here. This little Sprinkle is also connected to the cupcake. So it's gonna as I change color for the cupcake. It will change the color of the Sprinkle. So I'm gonna use my race or tool again, bring it way down in size. And just now I can smooth out those edges to There we go. So now these air two completely separate pieces. So now I can color this one however I want to and then this top piece. 7. Let's Digitize #3: Coloring Inside Shapes: There's a few different ways to color the inside area, so I'm gonna show you a couple of different methods the first month and I'll show you on. The cupcake liner is the live paint bucket tool so you can hit K on your keyboard. Or you can go over here and slights the live paint market toll. It's under the shape builder tool, and then you can see your cursor changed into this paint bucket. So I'm gonna go over here and choose a color. You could start clicking on the inside. It's kind of like a digital coloring book. Okay, so I've got that colored. Now I just have to expand. So goto object. Expand. Click. OK, and now this is one group. That's one way to color the inside of the image. So another method that I use is the shape builder tool, which you can use by hitting. Shift in on your keyboard or going over to your panel in your tool panel, and it's above the lights paint bucket tool so you'll just choose the color just like the live paint bucket tool, and then start clicking and start painting the inside. Now if you hold on option. You'll see that the little plus sign changes to a minus side. And then, if you make a mistake, you can click the minus sign. You could also do the same thing with the outside. So say that you didn't want to stroke. You could just completely get rid of that shark altogether. So that's a fun option when you use the shape, older talk and everything has already expanded. You don't have to expand it like with the life paint bucket tool, but you will have to group everything, so just select it and then hit command G to group. Another way that I really like to color behind an image is by using the blob brush tool. So I'm going to access that by hitting shift, be on my keyboard, or you can go over and it's under the paint brush tool. I'm gonna choose my color that I want the inside of my cupcake to be, and then over here at the bottom of the tool panel right now, the normal, um, drawing method is draw normal. So if you use your Barbara should just drawing on top of everything, Well, if you click this one right here. This is draw behind and then start to draw kind of paint in the inside. You can see it's drawing behind this shape, so this is a really nice way to kind of get some more of that hand drawn texture into your illustration. Again, you can use the left and right brackets on your keyboard to adjust the size of the blob brush. You can see you can kind of leave out some of these areas to make it look a little bit more organic. And then you could select the whole thing could just color the inside of the blob brush. This is how I usually do it. I'll just select that little image right there, hit, shift em to bring up the shape builder tool and then just drag it across. And now it's filled in. So now you've got the inside of your cupcake colored. Make sure that you shift back to draw normally hit shifty or shift D on your keyboard. That way, you won't be drawing behind things in the future, so I'll just struck this back over here, gonna group those two and then there we go. It's gonna select all my Sprinkles and change their color too. And now we have our cupcake. Use the live paint bucket tool to color my flag and expand it. Okay. And then this. Hello? Going to change color to white? Scaled it down a little bit. And bring that up inside of my flag. There we go. So I'll meet you in the next lesson, and I'll show you how to use texture to really bring your design toe life. 8. Let's Digitize #4: Adding Texture: So now I'm going to show you some different methods to use textures and your illustration to kind of bring them to life, Give them a little bit more dimension. So I think I'm not gonna use this little cake stand. I think I'm just gonna use the cupcake. I've got two textures right here that I've included in the class notes, and you can download these and you can use these to add a little bit of fun to your illustration. So I'm gonna go through how we're going to do that. Now I'm going to start with this texture right here. Gonna zoom in and I'll go up here to image Trace and do the drop down and click sketched art just like we did for our, um, our sketch and then go up to the image trace panel and then bring up the threshold. Where has a little bit more of that black showing? Maybe a little bit more. And you can create your own textures. These air actually textures that I created myself out link. Some other skills share classes below that have really good tips for making your own textures. Okay, That looks pretty good. So go ahead and click. Expand and I'll bring this over here. Okay, let's say that you want this texture on top of this icing part of the cupcake. We to take this dragon over here and then bring this texture over here, then all stretch it out a little bit, Get it to fit on there the way I want it to. And right now, this is a group you could under Earth it if you want, and you can move each of these little pieces around. So say, I wanted a few more of these pieces in here. I can just kind of movies around, play around with it. And I think that looks pretty good. I like that. So now what I'm going to dio is change the color. Actually, let me bring this out just a little bit, okay? You can change the color to whatever you want, but a tip that I like to use is if you choose the color of the cupcake and then go over to your transparency panel And over here, the blending Motor it, Neil, it's normal. You click the drop down arrow I like to use, multiply and screen Those are my two favorites. You quick multiply is just gonna multiply that color on top of the original color, and then you can play with opacity. Or, if you do screen is gonna make it lighter than the color it's in front of. I'm gonna do, multiply, maybe bring pass it down a little bit and then to trim this texture to your object, you'll want to click the object, which is the cupcake hit command. See two Coffee Command F to pace in place and then hit command shift right bracket. Or you could go to object. Arrange bring to front. So no, you have that shape in front of everything and then to create a clipping mask, you'll just select everything. Book to object clipping, mask, make or you can hit command seven on your keyboard. No, I've got a clipping mask, so I'll drag this over here back into place, and there we go. We've got some texture, and it added just a little bit of dimension to our illustration. I'm gonna go back over to this texture now and do the same thing, going to image, trace it. Bring up that threshold a little bit okay, and I'll click expand. Okay, let's say you want some of this texture on the cupcake liner going to select this. Bring it over here. And what I'm actually going to dio is re color this texture the same color as a cupcake liner, and then multiply that as well. And then I'm going to actually drag this texture up into my swatches panel. Okay? And now I'll click on my image. I'll select my blob brush tool, which is over here. Or you can hit, shift, be on your keyboard, make a little bit bigger. I'm gonna select good as the light, the swatch where I just drug this over here, make my blob brush tool bigger. And then I'm just gonna drag gentleness, cupcake. And now I'm adding in some texture. So basically what this is done is you created a swatch out of this vector right here. Now that means that if you were to select this watch in Phila shape is going to repeat over and over again, like a pattern. And since I have the swatch selected with my blob brush tool, then as I paint and painting on part of that texture so you can control where it goes. It's a really cool way to use texture. And you could paint it just on the edges if you wanted to. You could paint it on the top whatever you want to dio. So that's just another method that I use to add texture to my designs. So now I'm just gonna group this and bring it up here. There we go. It just has a little bit more dimension and just makes the illustration a little bit more fun to look at. So now you've got a fun illustration that you turned into a vector from your own sketch with some fine texture for out of dimension. I hope you really enjoy this class, and I really hope that you learned something. I've found that even if you've been using illustrator for years and years, you can always pick up on you tips and tricks whenever you, you know, watch a video or tutorial. So I really do hope you learned something, so I'll be wrapping up the class in the next video 9. Final Thoughts: Thank you so much for watching. I truly hope that you learned some new illustrator skills that you can use in your own designs. Please be sure to upload your sketches and finally illustration to the project tab. Can't wait to see everyone's projects and get feedback. You can also share your illustration on Instagram and tag me if you want. I have my instagram handle listed in the project section. Let me know if you have any questions in the class discussion. I'll be sure to help you with any technical problems you have along the way. And please be sure to like and rate this class. If you would like to get feedback, I hope you enjoyed my very first still share class. See you next time.