illustrator live trace: simple outlines
April 19, 2007 5:10 PM   Subscribe

livetrace / illustrator cs2: how would I go about tracing only the outline of a complex image (in this case, a cutout of a building) so as to create cut lines for a printer?

my only thought would be to create a selection or path in photoshop, stroke it, import that image into illustrator, trace that, and then insert my original, detailed image, inside that tracing. there must be an easier way!
posted by pinto to Media & Arts (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
you just need the outline of the building, right? why not just trace it by hand in Illustrator and be done with it?

Or am I missing here.

And, also, "complex image" and "cut line" do not usually go together with "reasonably priced cutting die"
posted by nathan_teske at 5:24 PM on April 19, 2007

nathan--thanks for your advice. I'll trace it by hand if I must, I'm just less familiar with live trace and would love to know if there's an easy way to do this. the building itself is a fairly simple shape, the detailing of the building itself is complex--which is why live trace is picking up all the little interior details. All I need is the outline! Also, this is going to a pro print house, not a reasonably priced cutting die.
posted by pinto at 5:29 PM on April 19, 2007

A quick question: When you say "cut lines," do you mean a dieline?
posted by lekvar at 6:12 PM on April 19, 2007

lekvar--i have no idea. the printer used the term cutline--i am trying to save myself several hours on my knees with an x-acto knife on this one....we're printing on transparent scotchprint and the printer told us it would be "extremely easy" to cut it if we gave him vector "cut lines." He told me to use live trace, but i've just done the whole damn thing with exported paths since i can't seem to finagle live trace to do what I want. c'est la vie.
posted by pinto at 6:15 PM on April 19, 2007

OK, it sounds to me like you'll be fine.
posted by lekvar at 6:41 PM on April 19, 2007

You can turn any selection from photoshop (magic wand, channels, etc) into a path and export it as an .ai file. I'm not sure why you're saying you have to retrace it in illustrator. Just make your selection, select "make work path" in the path palette, save the work path (same palette) and then choose "Export paths to illustrator" from the File menu.

As for live trace, if you choose the black and white setting and tweak the settings for that (including perhaps a little blur), you should get only the outline. If the path is to your satisfaction you can hit the Expand button to get the "real" path.
posted by O9scar at 7:08 PM on April 19, 2007

Reduce to 2 bit black&white colour.
Bucket fill any white bits inside the outline but close to the edges of the outline.
Use a nice big round brush with the pencil tool to black out the middle. At this point you should have an entirely black silhouette.
Save-as-a-copy and trace.

Re: Steps 2 & 3: You may be able to skip step 2, the idea is just that you block out enough so that you can scribble without hitting the edges. If you post your image I can probably give even more detail.
posted by anaelith at 7:30 PM on April 19, 2007

I'm not sure exactly what your final result needs to be but try this:

1) Make a duplicate copy of your original file.

2) Open in Illustrator

3) Select all

4) use pathfinder to merge all shapes

5) Expand appearance

You now have one box which is the shape of the extreme outline of your original art.

Worth a shot :-)

Good Luck!
posted by sandra_s at 8:23 PM on April 19, 2007

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