Graphic Design / Interactive Design / Fine & Applied Arts / Parkland College

Graphic Design Exercises
Illustrator: Live Trace


To learn advanced Illustrator drawing techniques. To experience Illustrator's image trace and pathfinder cutting techniques by recreating the following logo by designer Jay Vigon:


Translating vector to pixels is easy. Going the other way is hard. Often pixel art has to be meticulously traced by hand. As imperfect as image trace is, we were able to capture the essence of this original art with one click. However, this technique will only work with art that already looks "imperfect" and we wish to retain its imperfections.


prepping illustrator

  1. download starter file
  2. launch Illustrator, file > new (print), save as ""
  3. file place "one.psd", rename layer "art"
  4. practice Illustrator's navigation shortcuts (download Illustrator keyboard shortcuts)

creating the art in illustrator

  1. select placed image, zoom in to see detail
  2. object > image trace > tracing options: preset=default
  3. try different presets: logo, sketched art, silhouettes (preview=yes, ignore white=yes)
  4. dupe art, expand traced object
  5. view > outline (cmd-Y); inspect art
  6. direct select tool: select outer art (option+click)
  7. copy and paste into new layer "yellow", restack below "art"
  8. fill yellow, rotate
  9. dupe "yellow" layer, rename "blue", fill blue, rotate
  10. new layer "type"; add type (Futura Bold), adjust size, tracking
  11. type > create outlines
  12. select "ONO"
  13. window > pathfinder: minus front
  14. save


  1. file > save as (format=PDF)
  2. delete unused art
  3. add your name and the exercise number to the file
  4. print a proof for grading
  5. file your graded proof in your Process Book for individual review

Last updated: 5/8/17 ■ Webmaster: Paul Young