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Unlike bitmap images, vector graphics are resolution independent, which gives a great advantage because you can resize and scale them without losing the quality of the original artwork. Adobe Illustrator is one of those applications that allow you not only to create vector graphics, but also convert bitmap images into vector-based images, using the comprehensive and enhanced image trace feature in adobe Illustrator CS6.

The new image trace feature in Adobe Illustrator CS6 allows you to trace bitmap images with high quality and accuracy due to the feature enhancements and the new 64-bit support that allows the fast processing of Illustrator tasks compared to the previous versions.

In this tutorial we will learn how to convert a photography portrait into a pop art vector poster using the new image trace options in Adobe Illustrator CS6. We will start by tracing the image and then apply different color combinations to it from the Color Guide panel.

The final result for the vector pop art poster should look like the one below:

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Now, let us move forward to learning how to convert a bitmap to a vector pop art poster in Adobe Illustrator CS6:

Step 1

Open a new document in Adobe Illustrator. Set the new document to 1 Artboard and large size.

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Step 2

From the File menu, choose Place and navigate for the bitmap image.

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I will use the following image:

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Step 3

Select the Image and from the top Control panel, click on the Image Trace button. This will trace the image with the default trace option.

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Step 4

Open the Image trace panel from the top choices or from the Window menu. In the panel, choose Low Color. This will trace the image with a low color number. You can choose from any of the colors, but in this example we need to minimize the number of colors in the image.

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Step 5

From the Mode option, choose Color and from the Palette, let us choose Document colors. This option will give us the possibility to color the image with different combinations of colors from the document color groups in the Swatches panel.

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Before choosing the color group to apply to the object, let us learn how to create a color group using the Recolor Artwork dialog box.

Step 6

Open the Color Guide panel from the Window menu. In the bottom of the panel, click the Edit Color icon from the bottom right side. This icon will open the Recolor Artwork dialog box. In this dialog box, we will create the color groups to use with the image trace options.

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Step 7

In the color wheel section, go to the bottom right side and click the Unlike Color Harmony. This will allow us to choose different colors in the group.

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Step 8

Click on the Remove Color Icon, click on the colors to remove and leave only three color spots. Now, click on each color spot and move it to three different colors for example, red, blue and green. You can also set the color RGB values from the bottom part.

Make sure that RGB is selected from the numerical value context menu, and set the colors as follows:

• Select the first color spot and set its color value to: R= zero, G= 255, B= zero.
• Select the second color spot and set its color value to: R= 255, G= zero, B= zero.
• Select the third color spot and set its color value to: R= 255, G= 255, B= zero.

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Step 9

In the name field, add the new group name (Pop Art1) and click the New Color Group icon on the top right to add it to the list. Click Ok.

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Step 10

Go back to the Image Trace panel, and in the Color drop-down list, choose the color group we just created. Make sure the Preview checkbox is selected in order for us to see the color updates live on the image.

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Step 11

Click on the image and drag it to the right while clicking the Alt (Option) key to duplicate it.

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Step 12

While the right copy of the image is selected, open the Image Trace Options panel.

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Step 13

Repeat the steps from 6 to 10. Just change the colors in the Edit Color Group as follows:

• Select the first color spot and set its color value to: Red= zero, Green= 255, Blue= 255.
• Select the second color spot and set its color value to: Red= 241, Green= 90, Blue= 36.
• Select the third color spot and set its color value to: Red= 102, Green= 45, Blue= 145.

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Step 14

Name the new group Pop Art2 and apply it to the second image as we have learnt from the steps above. The image should appear like the one below:

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Step 15

Click on the image and drag it to the bottom right while clicking the Alt (Option) key to duplicate it and place under the first image.

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Step 16

Repeat the steps from 6 to 10. Just change the colors in the Edit Color Group as follows:

• Select the first color spot and set its color value to: Red= 237, Green= 30, Blue= 121.
• Select the second color spot and set its color value to: Red= 217, Green= 224, Blue= 33.
• Select the third color spot and set its color value to: Red= 255, Green= zero, Blue= zero.

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Step 17

Name the new group Pop Art3 and apply it to the second image as we have learnt in the steps above. The image should appear like this one below:

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Step 18

Click on the image and drag it to the right while clicking the Alt (Option) key to duplicate it and place as below:

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Step 19

Repeat the steps from 6 to 10. Just change the colors in the Edit Color Group as follows:

• Select the first color spot and set its color value to: Red= 46, Green= 49, Blue= 146.
• Select the second color spot and set its color value to: Red= zero, Green= 255, Blue= zero.
• Select the third color spot and set its color value to: Red= 252, Green= 238, Blue= 33.

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Step 20

Name the new group Pop Art4 and apply it to the second image as we have learnt from the steps above. The image should appear like the one below:

fig20.jpg

Step 21

Select each image and from the top Control panel. Click the Expand button. This will convert the images to editable paths.

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Step 22

Choose the Artboard tool from the Tools bar and resize the Artboard to fit the poster images. The final image should look like the one below:

fig22.jpg

At the end of this tutorial, we could learn about the new, enhanced Image Trace feature in Adobe Illustrator CS6. In this tutorial, we have learnt how to use the advanced options in the Image Trace panel to create a creative pop art poster. You can learn more practical examples about the new Illustrator features and using them to create different creative artworks through my recent book Adobe Illustrator Foundations, which gives a full practical guide to learn about the amazing features and tools in Adobe Illustrator.

Feel free to share with us what you think about this tutorial and if you have found it useful. Also, you can add your questions in the comments below and I will answer them.