Tracing Artwork in Adobe CS5 Illustrator

In Adobe Creative Suite (Adobe CS5) Illustrator you can use a template layer to trace an image manually. A template layer is a locked, dimmed layer you can use to draw over placed images with the Pen tool, much like you would do with a piece of onion skin paper over the top of an image.

  1. Take a scanned image or logo and save it in a format that Illustrator can import from your image-editing program, such as Photoshop.

    Typically, you save the image as an .eps, a .tif, or a native .psd (Photoshop) file.

  2. Choose File→Place to open the Place dialog box.

  3. In the Place dialog box, locate the saved image; then select the Template check box and click Place.

    Note that the Template check box may be in a different location depending on your platform, but it’s always located at the bottom of the dialog box.

    Selecting the Template check box tells Illustrator to lock down the scanned image on a layer. Essentially, you can’t reposition or edit your image.

    After you click Place, a template layer is automatically created for you, and another layer is waiting for you to create your path. The newly created top layer resembles a piece of tracing paper that has been placed on top of the scanned image.

  4. Re-create the image by tracing over it with the Pen tool.

  5. When you’re done, turn off the visibility of the placed image by clicking the Visibility icon to the left of the template layer.

    You now have a path you can use in place of the image, which is useful if you’re creating an illustration of an image or are digitally re-creating a logo.

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