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How To Trace


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Well, someone asked me in the requests section, so I made a tutorial how to "vectorize" using the pen tool in Illustrator. Anyone that is starting out or struggling to learn the pen tool, this should help.

If it makes no sense to you, let me know. Its hard to tell people how to do something if you already know how to do something.

I used the new cardinals logo and illustrator 10. the principals are the same in 7, 8, 9, CS or freehand.



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i wont lie to ya, I've been using the reshape tool with the line tool for all my designs. You made my life alot easier with this. This pen tool is great! Rockin'! I always wondered what that pen tool was for before...

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I've been using the pen tool for a while now, but I was making endless anchor points because I thought that would get the shape more exact - now i see what I was doing wrong. A link to your tutotrial should be added to Tfaq, defintiely.


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Thanks for this Pat!

I was already using the pen tool, but I didn't know about the white arrow until just now!

Please let us know if you make more of these, they'll be very useful!

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yay Pat, excellent tut!!

another way i like to start the vector layer is to uncheck the "preview" on that layer so all you have is a fine penline instead of your colored, reduced opacity, stroke fill.

i also like to click-drag the toolbox for the node edit tools (under the pen icon) so i have a mini-toolbox with the pen, add-anchor point, delete-anchor point, and convert-anchor point (for making very sharp bends/curves). as you get more experienced with the pen tool, using the keyboard shortcut "hotkeys" to edit as you trace is the way to digitize quickly and accurately.

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I want to bare your children. Oh wait im a guy...oh wait im into girls...um...this is awkward...um...thanks for the toutorial, this will help me ALOT.


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(Thought it made sense to copy this into this post since Patrick created a new post specically for vector drawing/tracing.)

Patrick- Glad you created a post specifically for this. This should allow more people to see it and take advantage of your hard work! Again, outstanding. :notworthy:

Pagan696- Good to see you reply to this post.

Something told me that when I put out the request for a tutorial, you might participate. You have always seem to help out with this type of stuff.

You should put out a tutorial as well. I know it would be good and we beginners can't get enought Tips and Training Tools to practice with! (Not trying to put you on the spot. Just sincerely think you would put together a good one too). :D

FYI to all, I do have two books I can comment on.

* Adobe Illustrator 10 "Classroom in a Book" - You pretty much need to have this book as a reference; but as a total beginner, I did not find it especially "intuitve" to find out how to do specific things. In other words, once I got a little familiar with how Illustrator worked, the book made more sense to me. It's kinda a chicken-and-egg problem- Since the writers already know the stuff inside and out, how they explain it and organize it makes total sense to them, but much less to a complete beginner; but clearly a beginner doesn't have the knowledge to do so.

As an example, say you have a Logo that you want to put a "white outline" around. As a beginner, you would logically think to look up "outline" in the table of contents for directions on how to do this. But since "outline" does not mean the same thing in "Illustratorspeak", you won't find out how to do this task this way.

* Adobe Illustrator 10 Virtual Classroom,(by David Karlins, McGraw Hill/Osbourne)- This comes with a Video training CD-ROM. I found this book to be better for pure beginners, because it speaks more from a beginner's mindset than an expert trying to think like a beginner. A lot of the highlighted "Tips" are pretty good.

If any other members experienced in vector drawing would be kind enough to post a tutorial on drawing or tracing logos, I think I speak for all beginner's to vector drawing we would greatly benefit and appreciate your efforts more than you might think!!!

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Tracing existing logos is a great way to practice and learn the pen tool as well. In a way, you can see how the pros made them. Learn what the pen line can do, learn the best approaches to logos and such.

I'm glad everyone liked this. I honestly thought everyone that had illustrator had a decent grasp on the pen tool and this was only going to be useful to a few people. I'd like to do more, but most of my other "tricks" if you want to call them that, I found out from other tutorials.

Pretty much anything you want to do, you can type it into google and put "photoshop" behind it. If I'm trying to make water drops for example as seen here:


I just typed in "water drops photoshop" adn I had about 4 tutorials right off the bat to figure it out. I added some of my own knowledge, but the internet is full of people that have made these to help you out. Use it.

Winters: The sketch and scan method, I just used that for the first time on my Mudhens concept for the wordmark and for the "MudHen" part. (seen in the Minor League challenge thread) and it worked wonderfullly. Usually I sketch on the screen, but this time, it worked really well to get the wordmark just how I wanted it on paper first. Instead of erasing I kept trying to hit CTL-Z however... :P

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Thanks for the tutorial Patrick! I have been trying to learn how to vectorize on my own and through Illustrator guide books. Your easy to follow instructions allowed me to make my first vectorized logo. I created the "retro" Goldy the Gopher hockey logo that is on the right side of my signature. I scanned in the logo from a t-shirt I had and the followed your tips. Cheers!

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Just finished working through the tutorial, and just wanted to say what an awesome job you did. The end result looked pretty decent, and I think I understand the pen tool a lot more than I did before. Just out of curiosity, is that how most designers work ? sketch by hand, scan, vectorize and then tweak and colour in Illustrator?

Thanks again! :notworthy:

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is there a way to "vectorize" a logo in psp8? i've read through the illustrator tutorial, and it seems relatively straight forward, but the pen tool doesn't seem to behave the same way in psp8 as it does in illustrator...or do i just not now what i'm doing? any help would be appreciated - thanks

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You can use the same method with the pen tool and once you have all your lines drawn, go to the "paths" palete. If you convert all your lines to paths you can then choose the "export paths to illustrator" command. Not really the ideal way of making vector art but it will work. Photoshop will not produce vector art. It must be exported to AI.

One additional piece of info about anchor points. You mentioned that you want as few anchor points as possible. That is true. The thing I wanted to add was that when machines are cutting fabric for tackle twill (numbers, letters, logos, etc.) every anchor point you have in a logo is a point to where the cutting machine stops and changes direction. So if you have two points on a curve it will only stop twice as opposed to ten anchor points on a curve that will make the machine stop 10 times, making for a much rogher edge.

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