Illustrator Tutorial - Live Trace
Introduced in Illustrator CS2, you can quickly and accurately convert photos, scans, or other bitmap images to editable and scalable vector paths with the Live Trace feature. Imagine trying to trace around a photograph with the Pen Tool and you'll quickly realise that the Live Trace feature can do the work for you.  Ideal for creating silhouettes, cartoon-like images, 'Andy Warhol' effects etc.

We'll start by placing an image into Illustrator.  Here, we've chosen a high-contrast image which works better in Live Trace.

With the image selected, press the Live Trace button at the top of your screen (below):

Your image will immediately turn into black and white.  Now click on the Tracing Options button (below).
This will bring up the box below.  The settings will vary according to the image, but we suggest you check the 'Preview' box to give you a 'real-time' preview of your changes.  We used the settings below:

[A] Preset – This changes between different Presets that Illustrator offers. Generally it is a good way to start, but will still require tweaking.

[B] Mode – This will switch from black and white, grayscale, or to color.

[C] Threshold – In black and White mode this changes the threshold between what is considered black and white.

[D] Palette – Either uses Automatic color selection or you can specify your own colors.

[E] Max Colors – Changes the maximum amount of colors used in the computations.

[F] Output to Swatches – Will output the colors used in the computations to your swatches palette.

[G] Blur – Specifies how much Gaussian blur is applied to the image before the computer tries and find edges. The more blur, the more general your shapes will become.

[H] Resample – Changes the resolution of the source image being used. This will help with performance and will change results in some cases.

[I] Fills/ Strokes – Toggles if fills or strokes are to be used in the render.

[J] Max Stroke Weight – Specifies that anything larger than this value will be considered a fill.

[K] Min Stroke Length – The smallest size of a stroke allowed, anything smaller is omitted.

[L] Path Fitting – Lower values create tighter maintained paths, higher values will create more relaxed paths.

[M] Minimum Area – You guessed it, the smallest detail that will be traced.

[N] Corner Angle – The sharpest corner angle allowed. (In degrees)

[O] Ignore White – It omits white from the calculations, and therefore leaves white areas transparent.

To reveal all the paths that make up this image, click on the Expand button (below).
This will allow you to zoom in and, by using the Direct Selection Tool, Pen Tool etc., you can adjust the paths, add new paths, fills, strokes etc.
Presets: Often an image falls into a category that Live Trace has set up as a 'preset'

This can be a quick and simple way to 'trace' an image if it fits into one of these preset categories.

When working with a black and white image, choose grayscale to have Adobe Illustrator include anti-aliasing.

Reduce the Number of Anchor Points

Live Trace tends to produce an extraneous amount of anchor points in some places. To get rid of some of these we can use the Smooth Tool . Click and drag to simplify and reduce the anchor points and to smooth curves.

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