Using Image Trace panel in Adobe Illustrator to create layered artwork

Use a reference image

1. Right click on the image thumbnail. Choose Copy Image

2. Open up Illustrator and create a new document.

File -> New

3. Select the preset for Print and a page size A4.

4. Paste that image as many times as you wish to have a different level of colour. Edit->Paste form the menu or CMD (CTRL) + V with a keyboard.

Moving and Transforming Objects

1. After you paste your reference image couple times you may see only one. If so, it is possible that all those images are in the same place on top of another. Use Selection tool (Black Arrow) 

2. To Select multiple objects at once. Click and hold a mouse button to draw a rectangular shape around them.

3. To deselect click anywhere on a pasteboard (dark grey area around the artboard).

Image Trace

1. Open Image Trace panel. Go to Window -> Image trace.

2. Select the image by clicking with Selection tool (Black Arrow). 

3. In Image Trace panel select the Black and White Logo preset.

4. Click Preview checkbox in the Image Trace panel.

5. Play with the Threshold values.

6. If you don’t need a background as a colour check Ignore White checkbox under Advanced section in the Image Trace Panel.

7. If you like what you see on a screen to convert the preview into shape go to Object -> Expand.

8. Click OK.

9. Move this shape to the side and repeat these steps for each image (colour layer).

Changing Colour

1. Select the shape with a Selection Tool (Black Arrow).

2. Double click on a colour picker from the Tools panel.

3. Select a colour you like and click OK.

4. If you see grey instead of colour. Select the CMYK (for print) or RGB (for screens) from the dropdown from the Color Panel.

To Open Color panel go to Window -> Color

Arranging the stacking order

1. Use the Selection tool to move Object on top of each other. Object may be hiding at the back of the other object. So when it is selected Go to Object -> Arrange -> Bring to Front

Grouping Objects

1. Deselect everything by clicking in an empty area. Then draw rectangular shape around with the Selection Tool.

2. Go to Object-> Group (CMD + G)

3. To ungroup. Select the groups object by clicking once with Selection Tool. Go to Object -> Ungroup. (CMD + G)

Grouped Object is easier to move and to select.

Scaling and Rotating

1. To Scale or Rotate an object first you need to select it. Click once with Selection Tool (Black Arrow).

2. You will see the bounding box (an outline, border around the object). Click and drag from the corner point. Holding Shift key will keep width and height constrained. Option key with transform from objects centre.

3. To rotate an object move mouse cursor a little bit away from its corner point till you see cursor change to double sided arrow. Click and drag to the direction you want it to rotate.

Another method is to use Rotation tool. When Object is selected, select the rotation from Tools panel.

To rotate click and drag to the direction you want. After you finish with rotation switch to Selection Tool again (Black Arrow) and click on an empty area to deselect.

Transforming objects with Transform Panel

1. Select an Object.

2. Open Transform panel.

Window -> Transform

Aligning Objects

1. To align object or objects. First you need to select it.

2. Open Align Panel. Go to Window -> Align.

3. To see more options click on the top right corner of a panel. Click Show More Options.

4. Set the alignment option. There are 3 options. To align according to the Artboard select Align to Artboard

5. Click on alignment icons according to your preferred alignment.

Navigating document

Use keyboard shortcuts:

CMD (CTRL) + to zoom in

CMD (CTRL) – to zoom out.

Or use the tools from a toolbar 

Zoom Tool.

Clicking once will zoom by 1 zoom level.

Clicking and Dragging will zoom to the area.

Holding Option key while clicking will do the opposite. (Zoom in or out) depending on selected tool.

Double clicking on it will load 100% preview of the document.


Hand Tool.

Lets you pan the document.

You can select this tool temporary anytime by holding space key.

Double clicking on it will set the Fit to screen view of the document.

Working with Text

1. To add a text object Select the Text tool from the Tools Panel. 

2. There are 2 major types of the text: Point type and Text Area. If you click once and start typing you will be in Point Type mode where you can only control single line of text. The only way to start from the new line is to hit Enter, whereas if you click and drag to draw rectangular shape with this tool you will create a Text Area where text will wrap along with rectangular boundaries of the text area.

3. To change the properties of the text like Typeface, font size etc. You need to open Characters panel. Go to Window -> Type -> Character

4. When text object is selected (clicking with Selection tool) you can also transform the size by drawing from the corner points with Shift key down to scale it uniform.

Applying text transformation with Envelope Distort.

1. Select Text Object.

2. Go to Object -> Envelope Distort – > Make with Wrap

3. Select the Preset you want and adjust it to your needs. Click OK.

Converting text into shapes

1. Select type object by clicking with selection tool (Black Arrow).

2. Go to Object -> Expand. Click OK

3. Changing colour, grouping, ungrouping, transforming will work the same like with any other vector shape in illustrator.

Using Blob Brush

1. Select the Blob Brush Tool from the Tools panel.

2. If colour selected is the same as the object you want to paint onto then you don’t need to select before painting.

3. Paint over the object to change it’s shape (To add to the object).

Using Eraser tool

If you want to remove some parts of the shape or just to adjust the shape, you can use Eraser tool.

1. Select the object you want to change.

2. Select Eraser Tool from the Tools panel.

3. Paint over the object to change it’s shape. (To remove painted areas).

Another way to delete objects is by selecting them and hitting Backspace (delete) key.

Saving document for editing it later

Best format to save illustrator file is it’s native document type with file extension .ai

Adobe illustrator file.

1. Go to File -> Save As…

2.Select directory where you want to save your file.

3. From a dropdown select Adobe Illustrator

4. Click Save.

Exporting for Print

Before saving PDF document for print make sure that the size of artwork is right. The colours in CMYK.

  1. Go to File -> Save As…
  2. Select directory where you want to save your file.
  3. From a dropdown sleek Adobe PDF
  4. Click Save.

Vector images don’t weight much so it should be no problem to send PDF to the printers via email.

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