Adobe illustrator’s image trace tool is a powerful tool that help you to trace image into vector (like JPEG into SVGs).

In this tutorial, we will show you how you can trace it with the help of image trace tool in Adobe Illustrator

Trace Image into Vector in 8 Simple Steps

  1. In first step, you select a new file or open your existing project in adobe illustrator.
  2. Now place your image which you want to trace.

Go to “file” > “Place” or you can use the keyboard shortcut ctrl/Cmd + P) and choose your image file and click “open” to place the image in your artboard.

  1. Now open the Image Trace panel.

However, you can do this from two ways.

  • Open “window” from the top menu bar and choose “Image Trace” from the menu.
  • Click on the image which you want to placed and search for “Image Trace” panel from the workspace.
  1. Choose a preset: You can choose different presets from image trace panel as per your image type.

Here’s a quick view of presets:

  • High Fidelity Photo: High fidelity photo is ideal for detailed images because it focuses on color preservation and shading.
  • Black and White Photo: Use this when you are converting you image into monotone, black and white vector art.
  • Color Artwork: It is best for flat colored logos or illustrations tracings.
  • Line Art: It is most suitable for simple and clear outlined images.
  • Technical Drawing: It works well when you are working with blueprints and diagrams with intricate details.
  1. Refine the trace: The beauty of Image Trace is the ability to customize the vectorization process.

Here are some key settings that helps you to adjust and refine your traced image.

  • Paths: It controls the number of paths that are used to represent the image. However, high values can create smooth curves but it can make your file more complex and heavy to work with.
  • Corners: You can adjust the corners of your traced image and adjust them right according to your need.
  • Noise: Minimize the unnecessary details in your traced image, so that you can get a cleaner and crisper vector.
  • Mode: Select your desired mode. It can be “Colors” (preserves colors) or “Grayscale” (converts to grayscale).
  1.  Preview and adjust:

The image trace panel allows you to preview and adjust the image. It provides a real-time preview of your traced vector, so you can experiment with different options to make your traced vector more effective.

  1. Expand:

Once you’re done with the tracing, now it’s time to “Expand” it.

For Expand, choose or select your traced image and go to “object > Expand” at the top of the menu bar.

Because when you “Expand” it, it automatically traces your editable vector paths into individual vector objects and shapes that allow you to manipulate it further, such as applying fills, strokes, and shading on the objects.

  1. Edit and refine: Depending on the complexity of the image and your desired outcome, you might need to further edit the resulting vector graphic. You can use the Pathfinder panel to combine shapes, the Pen tool to add or remove paths, and the fill and stroke options to customize the appearance.

For this purpose, you can use the “Pathfinder” tool to combine shapes. Also, the “Pen tool” is ideal for removing or adding paths and will help you to fill with the strokes for better customization and crisp appearance.

Image Trace v/s Pen Tool, Which Works Better for Image Tracing.

In image tracing, pen tool allows you to work with more precision and control for creating detailed and intricate vector paths but it is a bit time consuming and requires more expertise and practice.

However, Image Trace tool is more convenient, faster and ideal for simple image, but the final results might be compromised when you are tracing a detailed image with image trace tool.

To make it easier:

  • Pen tool allows to work with precision but it’s time consuming.
  • Image Trace enables you to work faster but with less detail work.


When it comes to vectorizing an image, achieving a high-quality result requires a bit of experimentation with presets and settings. While the quality and complexity of your original artwork do play an important role in the final output, a bit of practice can help you work efficiently and achieve your desired results.

By trying out different settings and tweaking them to suit your needs, you can fine-tune the vectorization process and create an output that meets your requirements. Remember, it may take some time and effort to master the art of vector tracing, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll be able to create stunning vectorized artwork with ease.