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View Full Version : Creating Vectors from photos?


Matt Castellaneta
11-19-2006, 01:41 AM
Is it possible to created vectorimages from a jpeg or tiff?:confused:

jageo
11-19-2006, 03:16 PM
You can import, or place a raster image in Illustrator (presumably other vector programs too), and then create vector art overtop of it.
I usually start most of my work with a placed image
Illustrator's latest version in CS2 has a very good trace and paint, but I admit I don't use it much - to fast for me. ;)

Einion
11-19-2006, 11:39 PM
Yes:
convert the image to 72ppi at whatever dimension you want to work at;
create a new document in your vector software with at least two layers;
place the photo on the bottom layer, then lock that layer;
start drawing with the pen tool on the layer above (no fill and a very thin stroke, so that you don't obscure the reference image as you work - I usually use 0.1pt and 100% magenta);
when you're done creating all the shapes you want you colour the image.

In Illustrator there's also LiveTrace, plus there are other auto-tracing programs/plugins available, if you don't want to work by hand. But there is a limited amount of control over the image that's created (they look like what they are) and this sort of thing usually creates messy paths with lots of points, which can cause some problems.

As far as I know there's no totally automated way of creating vector artwork from a raster image, although you can mimic the look with some filters/effects; again though what you get is like a cookie-cutter image which can be seen for what it is.

Einion

omniartz
11-20-2006, 10:37 AM
Corel has Corel Trace that turns any picture into a vector graphic, It it part of the CorelDraw suite of programs. I does have some drawbacks as it is very literal in the way it creates the vector image. But with time and patience one can make some fine art with it, and Draw. :)

madster
11-20-2006, 07:41 PM
Einion, what kind of problems can Live Trace cause? I used to go back after Auto Tracing an image, deleting points all over the place, but am considering upgrading to CS2 just for the Live Trace and Live paint features. Since CS 2 also closes gaps in paths, it sounds like a good upgrade.
I'd like to know more about any potential problems before shelling out the $$$.

~M

jhercilia
11-21-2006, 12:17 AM
I have Illustrator CS2 and the live trace is fantastic.

madster
11-21-2006, 04:06 AM
W.Forrest, who does work like this (http://www.wizard2.com/satin.htm) also swears by it. When you roll over the image, you can see the paths.

~M

Matt Castellaneta
11-21-2006, 02:59 PM
Please tell me how I use Illustrator 10

madster
11-21-2006, 03:54 PM
My first suggestion, of course, would be to upgrade to CS2. The best $169 you will ever spend on an upgrade.
Barring that, you will have to work a lot harder at it, but it can still be done.
Here (http://www.layersmagazine.com/when-vector-meets-photo.html) is a bare-bones tutorial to get you started.

Please post your efforts/results and let us know if it is as easy as the tutorial makes it seem!
Best success!

~M

Elainepsq
11-21-2006, 09:10 PM
Thanks for mentioning the Live Trace. I tried it and I might have use for it. I have Illustrator CS2, but in my work, we are using more and more photos, so I depend on Photoshop more.
About 10 years ago, I worked for a newspaper that had a program named "Streamline" I only vaguely remember scanning in logos and such, and it would create a vector image in a similiar (but very slow) manner, to Live Trace in Illustrator.
Just wondering if Streamline is still around and if it would be useful to anyone who doesn't have access to Illustrator CS2.

Einion
11-22-2006, 03:12 AM
Einion, what kind of problems can Live Trace cause?
Printer memory issues and glitches in compounds/complex paths. These are both much less common now than in the bad old days but I heard only recently of the first happening to someone so it's not entirely gone; one might have no idea what kind of output device something will be printed on at once it leaves your hands, so there's still some reason to produce memory-efficient artwork if you can.

Purely from a stylistic point of view, if you're a bit ana... achem, of a perfectionist :D the images can so often look like they were done by automated means; now this isn't a problem if you're just doing stuff for fun and you like the look but if you're working professionally it's a major potential issue if you want an individual style. It's a lot like using a single filter on a photo in Photoshop - any sophisticated viewer can spot it a mile away.

Have a look at the detail views in Adobe's PDF on Live Trace here (http://www.adobe.com/products/illustrator/pdfs/creating_vector_content.pdf) to get an idea of what I mean. Now, let's say you had a photo and wanted to produce something that even remotely resembled one of my vector portraits... you have to do this kind of work by hand (thank goodness!) and similarly the style of any number of other vector artists simply cannot be done automatically.

Since CS 2 also closes gaps in paths, it sounds like a good upgrade.
I'd like to know more about any potential problems before shelling out the $$$.
I presume you're currently using CS? Personally I think there's enough new functionality in CS2 to make it worth the upgrade, regardless of whether you use Live Trace much - Live Paint for one. If you're using a version earlier than CS then definitely!


Please tell me how I use Illustrator 10
What part of it Matt?


Just wondering if Streamline is still around and if it would be useful to anyone who doesn't have access to Illustrator CS2.
There are similar things available today, yes. I actually still have Streamline on a CD :)

Einion

karmathing
11-22-2006, 03:24 AM
Just thought I'd mention, there's a similar function in Flash too, though the results are a little hit and miss. It's an intriguing program to 'paint' vectors with - good tablet support. It's worth an experiment.

madster
11-22-2006, 04:47 PM
Thanks for the clarification, Einion!
I've got Illy8, Painter 8, and Flash MX2002, as well as Photoshop CS2.
I like the vector painting of Flash, karmathing, it is fast for some works!
Painter is good for some applications, as well.
But Illy CS2 seemed like it would be a good upgrade from 8...lol!
Now, though, it seems Adobe may be pushing to get CS3 out before the end of the year, with next April as a "firm" release date if not sooner. I guess I'll hold out for a few more months, and then upgrade to the latest, greatest.
Illy CS3 is supposed to be offering an eraser tool, as well as a new Live Color palette that will offer entire color palettes when a color is selected...Just enough new bells and whistles to make it worth the wait.

I'll just have to keep doing it "the old-fashioned way" until then, I guess...:(

~M

Einion
11-23-2006, 03:13 AM
I've got Illy8...
Oh man, you so need to update! :lol:

I still draw most of my stuff in Illy 6 on my iMac but I sure would miss having access to some of the newer features when I need them - even if one just uses small, simple gradient meshes it's great to have the option, plus the ability to apply effects to drawn shapes (while they remain vector elements) is worth its weight in gold.

Einion

pixelscapes
11-24-2006, 12:16 PM
I tried out the Illustrator CS2 free trial demo from Adobe a few weeks back and it works great for my purposes. Go to the "Downloads" section of this page:
http://www.adobe.com/products/illustrator/

selenemoon
11-26-2006, 01:42 AM
So hey there! It's been a while since I posted and thought I'd drop in and say hi. I have recently been taking online classes to get more familiar with CS2 and all the programs included in it. The Illustrator class was especially informative. I've attached a sample of an apple I created using the gradient mesh tool over a photograph of an apple. I used the eyedropper tool extensively to sample the color from the original image.
I was also wondering why there are so many posts referring to Corel and Paintshop Pro, Do most of you find that that software is superior to the Adobe programs?
:wave: Hi again!! :wave:

sp71
12-03-2006, 01:07 AM
the ability to apply effects to drawn shapes while they remain vector elements
Einion
I'm just starting to learn about making vector art although I've been playing with paint effects in Photoshop for a while now. Before reading this thread I read the Awesome Vector Paintings thread and watched the Complex Fills demo off the Xara site.
There's a basic premise I'm confused about here. When you apply paint effects, fills, gradients to a vector shape, aren't these essentially the same paint effects you use to work with raster images? For example, in the demo the final touch was to feather the edges of the layered fill by a couple of pixels. Why wouldn't this effect be prone to the same distortions when enlarged as the feathered edges of a raster image? :confused:
Thanks.

madster
12-03-2006, 03:32 AM
A feather is a blur.
If you feather a vector edge, you are blurring a vector (un-jagged) edge.
If you feather a raster edge, you are blurring a jagged edge.

The effects you apply to a vector path are not the same as those applied to raster, simply because of the nature of vector, which is based upon Lines, Points, and Curves.
Raster is based upon bitmaps, or small square points of a document.

~M

MvdLinden
12-03-2006, 04:28 AM
once you master the program StudioArtist is absolutely the Best method for generating vector art from any source image.

sp71
12-03-2006, 09:16 AM
The effects you apply to a vector path are not the same as those applied to raster, simply because of the nature of vector, which is based upon Lines, Points, and Curves.
Raster is based upon bitmaps, or small square points of a document.
~M

Hi madster
Thanks for replying on this. I'm interested inlearning more about vector based art because i'm interested in line drawing. I get the idea of using pen tools / paths and creating something out of shapes that can pretty much be reduced to a maths equation and therefor the size can be increased for printing without any degradation.
What I don't understand is if you then 'paint' these shapes with fills, gradients, feathering, whatever - aren't these paint / coloration effects essentially pixel-based and therefore prone to the same degradation when blown up as a raster image would be?
So altho you can work in low res, small files to create initial vector, would you then increase the res before adding paint effects that you wanted to stay crisp if the final plan is to print large?
Thanks again!

Einion
12-03-2006, 10:12 PM
There's a basic premise I'm confused about here. When you apply paint effects, fills, gradients to a vector shape, aren't these essentially the same paint effects you use to work with raster images?
The same effect yes, but not the same result exactly in terms of the artwork itself and its appearance. It's much as madster has said but just to be clear, the main defining characteristic of vector art is the scalability issue (scalability without change/loss) which is fundamentally retained.

So for example if you take a shape in a 300ppi image in Photoshop and Gaussian blur it, then blow the image up 400% you get an enlargement of the pixels of the blurred edge. If you take a similar shape in Illustrator, apply the same blur as an Effect and then enlarge it 400% you've enlarged an on-the-fly blur on a defined edge, meaning the end results won't be the same if you look at it closely (it'll be flawless, not an interpolation of the smaller version). What's more you can then reduce the Illustrator artwork by 25% and it returns to being exactly the same as it was initially, without losing something each time it's tweaked like a raster file does.


once you master the program StudioArtist is absolutely the Best method for generating vector art from any source image.
I'm sure you'll find that users of a number of different programs feel the same way about their software of choice ;) Could you post some examples so we have some idea of what it's capable of?

Einion

sp71
12-04-2006, 07:38 AM
:thumbsup: thanks madster & einion, i think I see the light
it kind of flickers on & off still :D but some practical stuff next might do the trick

Asher
12-04-2006, 07:36 PM
Selenemoon, personally, I've always preferred Corel Draw's vector capabilities to Illustrator's. I always felt that Illustrator's was clunkier and less intuitive than Corel Draw's. But then I grew up with Corel from version 3 and didn't get into Illustrator till its version 8. To each his own, I guess.

omniartz
12-04-2006, 10:44 PM
I have an example of using Corel's TRACE proggie. I used a photo for the basis of an interpretation of it in Painter, saving it for WC in jpg. I used this same jpg to create a Traced version of it and then reconverted it back to jpg to be able to share it here. I Did not alter the traced CMX file I created in Trace I only resized the jpg file for WC display.

Here is the first jpg the interpretive Painter version:

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/04-Dec-2006/69150-1_judith1Asml.jpg

Now this is the Traced version converted from CMX to jpg for display here:


http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/04-Dec-2006/69150-1_judith3Csml.jpg

You will see obvious differences in the vector graphic 'trace' but the image is essentially the same within a reasonable amount of changes.

I did this all on the fly. I did not alter the vector image at all other than converting it to jpg for display on WC.

IMHO Corel TRACE works well for what it was designed to do. i.e. make vector graphics editable in Corel DRAW from bitmapped rastered images.

I hope this helps the discussion! :)