Vectorizing a Graphic in Illustrator

Here is a pretty simple little tutorial to get things started. I learned all of this from an article, and provide steps here in super simplified mode. Read the article for a different example and more explanation.

Many times we will want to engrave a pretty image we find online. GlowForge rocks, so you can just print the image, scaling your print to whatever size, and slap that on some wood. Done deal.

But… if the image is complicated, or you want it bigger than a sheet of normal paper from the printer, converting to a vector can help.

Illustrator isn’t free, but it is pretty useful. These instructions are for CS6. I will check if I can do the same thing in Inkscape someday and, if I can, make another tutorial to provide a free option.

  1. For this tutorial, I will use the GlowForge logo, swiped from the top of the page you are reading now. Just right click and choose COPY IMAGE (or whatever your browser calls the action).
  2. Open Illustrator, and paste the image into a document.
  3. Go to Window>Image Trace and make sure that the Image Trace window is visible (should have a checkmark)
  4. In the Image Trace window, make sure to open the ADVANCED options. Ensure that Preview is checked.
  5. Now… play. Start off with the row of presets at the top of the window, see how each one looks, and what it does with the settings revealed by Advanced being open.
  6. For the GlowForge logo, I settled on the following settings:

Mode: Color
Palette: Full Tone
Colors: 0
Paths: 80
Corners: 0
Method: Abutting (First one)
Snap Curves to White Lines disabled
Settings not mentioned had no effect regardless of choice

  1. When you are happy with the results, click on the EXPAND button (toolbar on top just under the menu options, or look in Object>Image Trace)
  2. This made a box around the outer border. To get rid of this I use the Group Selection tool (second tool on the sidebar, may be set to Direct Selection Tool, if so just click and hold to change). Grab inside of the G and drag it away from the box. Then select the box and delete it.
  3. Using the Direct Selection Tool, you CAN refine the lines to get a better copy of the GlowForge logo. But I suck at this, so I am not going to try to give advice on what to do. Basically click inside the shape/image to get the anchor points to show, then click on an anchor point, then move that point or the two handles that come off from it, and pray that you get the curve to look how you want and be where you want.

You now have a (slightly mutilated) GlowForge logo which you can resize to any size you desire!

(Yes, guides are better with images included. But this was a quick little “While I am doing this anyway” post in the middle of a few other projects as I could steal time at work. To see the end result, go to the thread I made this for)


Link to get the zipped logo files found on the press page. They are *.png. Bitmapped images that will need the tracing routine for vectoring and resizing as shown above. Trying to figure out the font. It looks like some altered version of museo. Logo, product name and the lettering of the product name, and color scheme really are first rate design choices.

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Another tool Adobe (where I work!) makes is called Capture CC. It’s a mobile app that will let you take a photo of something, and it’ll automatically find the edges, and make a vector. You can refine your edges before saving, so a lot of the time you don’t really need to do any additional work on a PC. It’s on iOS and Android.

My girlfriend downloaded it yesterday, took a few photos of a card game she liked, and came out with some amazing results.

Just passing that info along. I don’t work on commission. :wink:


Thank you, mattmay! This will be fun to try.

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Wow, I just tried it. I think it has huge potential! Everyone with a mobile device should give it a try. Thanks for sharing!

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I tried it last night, too. I now have a vectorized photo of my gel pen! I love it.

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Loved that new app @mattmay It would be cool if I could do that on my PC also.