How To Trace An Image In Illustrator

To trace an image in Illustrator, use the ‘Image Trace’ feature by opening the image, selecting it, clicking on ‘Image Trace’ in the Control panel, and adjusting the tracing options to achieve the desired result.

If you are a designer, illustrator, or even just someone wanting to add artistic elements to your work, you’ve probably come across the need to trace an image in Illustrator. Tracing an image allows you to convert a raster or bitmap image into a scalable vector format, making it easier to edit, resize, and apply various effects. Whether you want to create a logo, recreate a hand-drawn sketch, or simply enhance an existing image, Illustrator’s powerful tracing tools can help you achieve the desired result. In this blog post, we will guide you through the process of tracing an image in Illustrator, providing you with the knowledge and techniques to bring your images to life in a whole new way.

How To Trace An Image In Illustrator: Step-by-Step


Step 1: Import the Image into Illustrator,

To trace an image in Adobe Illustrator, open the software, navigate to ‘File’ in the menu, choose ‘Open…’, locate your desired image, select it, and click ‘Open’ to import it.

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Step 2: Select the Image for Tracing,

Once the image is loaded into your workspace, select it by clicking on it to access editing and formatting options for further customization.

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Step 3: Open the Image Trace Window,

After selecting the image, go to the toolbar at the top. Click on ‘Window’, then ‘Image Trace’. This action will open the Image Trace panel for easy access and adjustments to optimize the tracing process.

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Step 4: Adjust the Image Trace Settings,

Experiment with the different settings in the Image Trace panel, such as ‘Threshold’ for amount of tracing, ‘Paths’ for line precision, ‘Corners’ for sharp shapes, and ‘Noise’ for minimum pixel area. Adjust them to achieve the desired tracing result.

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Step 5: Execute the Image Trace,

Once you have made the necessary adjustments to your settings, simply click on either ‘Trace’ or ‘Preview’ in the Image Trace panel to initiate the tracing process, which will conveniently convert your image into a vector format directly in Illustrator.

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Step 6: Expand your Traced Image,

After selecting the traced image, go to the top menu and choose ‘Object’, then ‘Image Trace’, and finally ‘Expand’. This will finalize the trace and allow you to manually edit the paths in your traced image.

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Step 7: Finetune your Trace,

Both the direct selection tool (white arrow) and the path selection tool (black arrow) allow you to select and modify individual paths. This enables you to correct any problems caused by the automatic trace and achieve the desired appearance for your image.

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Step 8: Save the Newly Traced Image,

Once you finish editing, save your vector image by selecting ‘Save As…’ under the ‘File’ tab. Choose a location, add a file name, and select the format (AI or EPS). Click ‘Save’ to complete the process.


In conclusion, learning how to trace an image in Illustrator can greatly enhance your design skills and allow you to create stunning and professional-looking illustrations. By following the steps mentioned in this blog post, you can easily convert any image into a vector format, making it scalable and editable without compromising quality.

Tracing images in Illustrator not only opens up endless possibilities for design projects but also saves time and effort. Whether you are a graphic designer, illustrator, or just someone who loves experimenting with digital art, mastering this technique is essential.

Remember, practice makes perfect. The more you practice tracing images in Illustrator, the more you will understand the various options available and be able to customize the settings to suit your needs. So, don’t be afraid to explore and experiment with different tracing techniques to achieve the desired results.

Now that you have grasped the basics of image tracing in Illustrator, it’s time to unleash your creativity and bring your ideas to life. So, open up Illustrator, load up an image, and start tracing! Happy designing!

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