Image Tracing in Illustrator

CreativePro Magazine Issue 4 coverThis article appeared in Issue 4 of CreativePro Magazine.

Creative professionals have myriad ways to create images. From traditional media to the cameras in our phones to full-­featured painting applications on tablets and PCs, the choices are nearly endless. Images we create can be scanned as TIFF files and saved as JPG, PNG, PSD, and other formats. To convert these and other pixel-based images into vector artwork, Illustrator provides a powerful function: Image Trace. Let’s examine how it works!

Starting Point: Place an Image

Start by placing a raster (non-vector) image onto your artboard. Choose File > Place, or drag an image from the Library panel. To find an image to experiment with, visit Adobe Stock, click Free, and search for a particular image. Click the License button on the image to add it to your Library. I did that to get the lotus flower in Figure 1.

Pink lotus flower against blue-grey blurred background.

Figure 1. Raster lotus flower image from Adobe Stock

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Ari M. Weinstein is a brand development coach who uses Adobe Illustrator extensively for client work including infographics, logos and merchandise artwork. Ari has been using Illustrator for over 30 years since it was “Illustrator 88” (version 1.5) and is a contributor to the Illustrator Wow! Book series. Learn more about Ari on his website at