So, your client wants to have a logo or a design made of a flower. Obviously, you do not want to actually put a picture of a flower as the logo – that’s just unprofessional, and the resolution will limit the ability for larger scale prints without loss of quality.
What you need is a fully vectorized version of a flower – but how do we do that without actually drawing it out? Well, we all know about the trace tool. But Adobe Illustrator CS2 has the best live-trace tool ever made in my opinion, and I’ve used it to successfully create an illustration of a flower within minutes. Here’s how you do it.
First, you need a photo of a flower to start with. If you can find one without a background, it’s even better. If not, you’ll have to cut it out using Photoshop first. Here’s my pick – a red rose.
Now, using Photoshop, let’s cut out the white background to make it all transparent. Use the Magic Erasor tool for this one.
In this photo, note the black spec at the bottom-right corner – I used the marquee tool to select that edge and cleared those extra black pixels. Save this as a Photoshop file to preserve the transparency and the layer factor.
It’s time to open up Illustrator CS2. Let’s open a brand new document – the document size is not an issue so just do whatever you want to do. Once opened, let’s place the photoshop file of the rose. You can either go to File > Place, or you can drag the file from your windows explorer (or Mac Finder) into the blank Illustrator file you have opened. Once the file is placed, you will see the rose in the middle of the screen, and also, note the top bar will be populated by these options now :
Note the little arrow that I highlighted with the red – that will open up the live trace options. Depending on what purpose this illustration is for, you want to trace it in a different way. Once you click it, you will see the following screen :
At this point, if you are too lazy, try the “Color 6” option. This will provide you with a colored trace, and also limit the colors to only 6 different colors, which is usually more than enough for a logo. I’d personally reduce it to 4 or even 3, but that’s your call. If you do want to customize this a lot more, click on “Tracing Options” at the bottom instead of a pre-set option. Just so you know, the “Color 6” returns the following result, which isn’t bad.
But for this project, I’d like it sipmler, with less fine lines and what not. If that is the case, let’s take a look at the Live Trace Options screen :
Note that I selected “color 6” from the preset – this just makes it easier to start off, with pre-defined settings to start off from. Even I don’t have too much experience with this – it’s easier to start out with options that I know about, and change the figures from there. To simplify the drawing a bit more, increase the Blur, Path Fitting, Minimum Area, Corner Angle. Turning the “Preview” on will slow down the process, but it will show you the photo actually changing as you change the figures for these options. Also, under the “preview” checkbox, you will see information on how many paths, anchors and colors were created. I will also reduce the color to just 4 colors.
Note how much simpler this one is compared to the previous one. Fiddle around with these figures all you want, but here is what I typed in :
At this point, you can click the “Trace” button to apply the tracing. After you do that, you will see 2 buttons at the top :
If you are happy with the colors, you can simply click “Expand” to turn everything into actual vector paths. If you want to mess with the colors a bit, you can click on “Live Paint” and doodle around more. Here is a screenshot of where the Live Paint tool is, and how it looks (I changed it to green just to make it stand out but obviously this is not a color of choice!).
Now, a quick note here : I do not like ot use the live paint on these type of projects, because it’s hard to keep the colors consistent, and it takes a lot more work to change the colors of all the different areas. Instead, use the Direct Selection Tool (the white arrow) to select one of the zones you want to change. Let’s say you want the brightest red to be even brighter – here’s how you do it.
First, if you are still in the “Live Paint” mode, click on the “Expand” button at the top to turn everything into regular paths. Using the “Direct Select” tool, click on one of the areas that have the color you want to change. And then go to Select > Same > Fill Color, which will automatically select all the paths with the same fill color. Then, you can change the colors of all the cells that had the same red!!!
So, keep playing around this way to optimize the colors, and you’ll have a finalized vector version of this flower that you wanted to use.