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Illustrator Tutorial: How to Vectorize your Drawings

Create beautiful digital illustrations with this method.

how to vectorize your drawings on Illustrator

 

Adobe Illustrator is a popular vectorial illustration tool. It uses vectors, a scalable alternative to pixels.  If you vectorize your drawings, you will be able to modify their size without affecting their quality.

In this post, we are going to show you how you can turn your physical drawings into vectorial illustrations. Pick a sketch and follow the steps. You will see that the procedure is straightforward!

On this article:

Scan your drawing
Create a new document on Illustrator
Use the Image Trace tool
Edit your illustration

 

Scan your drawing to use in Illustrator

 

To be able to use your drawing in Illustrator, you need to save it as a digital file. If you have a scanner, you can quickly turn it into a JPEG image. Scan your drawing and save it to your computer.

 

 

If you don’t have a scanner, no worries! You can also use a picture of your drawing. You’ll just need to make some changes in a picture editing software. You can appreciate the change we want to build on the images above.

Pay attention to these settings:

  • Rise the Contrast.
  • Increase the White value.
  • Increase the Black value.
  • You can also increase Saturation a bit.

 

Create a New Document on Illustrator

To start processing the image, you need to create a new document on Illustrator. It’s possible to import the picture directly, but that is not the right procedure in this case.

Press “Create New” to create a new document.

 

how to vectorize your drawings on Illustrator

 

Adjust the dimensions of the document to the size of the photo.  In Advanced Settings, set the color mode to RGB and the raster effects to High (300 PPI).

 

how to vectorize your drawings on Illustrator

 

To open the image, go to File > Place.

 

how to vectorize your drawings on Illustrator

 

Select the scanned document or the edited version of your picture.  Press Place.

 

how to vectorize your drawings on Illustrator

 

Place the image on your canvas. You have the chance to modify its position and dimensions.  Use the corners of the blue square as a reference.

Use the Image Trace tool

 

Keep the image selected for the next steps.

 

how to vectorize your drawings on Illustrator

 

To turn your drawing into vectors, you have to use a tool called Image Trace. If you have selected the image, you can find it in the upper menu. It’s the one we have highlighted in pink on the image above.

When you press Image Trace, Illustrator displays a window with a warning. Press “Ok” to continue with the process.

 

how to vectorize your drawings on Illustrator

 

After you have traced your image, open the Image Trace panel. You can find it highlighted in pink on the image above.

 

 

You need to experiment with the Threshold value. As you can see in the images above, if you swipe it to the right, your graphic will become black. If you swipe to the left, it will start to fade. Move it and try until you find a balance.

 

 

When you find a balance, Threshold improves the aspect of your drawing. It helps you remove the noise and get a uniform look. 

 

how to vectorize your drawings on Illustrator

 

Once you have finished setting the Threshold, press Expand. You can find it in the upper toolbar. It’s highlighted in pink on the image above.

 

how to vectorize your drawings on Illustrator

 

When you press Expand, Illustrator traces anchor points and paths around your drawing. Now, it’s a vectorial illustration!

 

Edit your illustration

 

how to vectorize your drawings on Illustrator

 

You can modify the appearance of your vectorial drawing by pulling the anchor points. If you click on an anchor point, Illustrator will display two handles. You can use these handles to modify the strokes beside the anchor point. This way, you can make your vectorial drawing look more sophisticated.

 

how to vectorize your drawings on Illustrator

 

Your drawing is now a vectorial shape. This means you can change its appearance by editing the features in the Properties Panel. 

 

how to vectorize your drawings on Illustrator

 

Your drawing is now a scalable digital image! You can export this file and use it in different compositions.

We hope you have found this tutorial insightful. Enjoy digitizing your sketches!

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