Tutorial: Illustrator CC Basics – Raster Graphics

File Download: http://oldetinkererstudio.com/tutorials/illustrator-cc-basics/raster-graphics-tutorial.ai (FOR PERSONAL USE ONLY)

Buddhist Monk: https://pixabay.com/en/monk-asia-thailand-buddhism-977208/

Rabbit: https://pixabay.com/en/vintage-black-and-white-sketch-1635014/


In this tutorial I will be teaching you how to use raster graphics in Illustrator.

So far we have been working with vector objects but we can also work with raster graphics in Illustrator – such as JPEG, GIF, PNG, and TIFF. You can easily place a raster graphic into Illustrator using the Place command.

Let’s start by placing an image onto the Artboard.

Go to File and then choose Place then go to the folder where you saved the picture of the Buddhist Monk. Once you have chosen the image you must click “link” in the options in order to make this a linked object. Click on “Place” and when you go back to the Artboard you will notice that you now have a loaded Selection tool. Now you can simple click anywhere on the Artboard to place the image.

Now that we have placed an image onto the Artboard let’s take a look at the Links panel. Use the Selection tool and select the image then go to Window and click on Links.

You can target individual links inside the Links panel. At the bottom of the Links panel you have multiple options. Relink from CC Libraries means that you can relink the image from your CC library and make it available across the Creative Cloud apps. Relink allows you to relink to something on your hard drive. Go to Link allows you to go to the linked object on the Artboard. Update Links allows you to update the link to the image.  Edit Original allows you to edit the original image in a program such as Photoshop and then when you go back to Illustrator the image file will be available for updating.


Now that we know how to place raster images into Illustrator let’s learn how to embed images.

There may be a time during a project when you will need to embed an image so another team member can work on the project without needing to have the external files.

Embedding images in Illustrator is an easy process. Using the Selection Tool, make a selection of the Buddhist Monk image. Now all you need to do is click on the Embed button in the Control Panel.


Now that we know how to embed raster images into Illustrator let’s learn how to make clipping masks.

In Illustrator, there is no layer mask tool unlike in Photoshop. In Illustrator you do have the option of using a clipping mask. A clipping mask is basically a vector shape that is turned into a mask for another object.

Let’s say that we wanted to make this Buddhist monk photo into a circular profile picture. In order to do this, select the Ellipse tool and draw out a circle over the Buddhist monk image. Next, shift-select the image using the Selection tool so you have both the image and the circle selected. Now go to Object > Clipping Mask > Make.

If you want to move the image you can simply double-click on the image and move the photo inside the shape. When you have finished moving the image simply double-click anywhere on the empty Artboard to exit Isolation Mode.

In order to release the Clipping Mask, select the image and right-click on the image and choose Release Clipping Mask. Then all you need to do is deleted the circle.


Now that we know how to make clipping masks in Illustrator, let’s learn how to convert a raster graphic into a vector graphic.

It is possible in Illustrator to turn a raster graphic into a vector graphic. This is done through Image Trace.

Use your Selection tool and click on the second rabbit graphic (we will use the top one for reference). Next, click on the Image Trace button in the Control Panel. Illustrator will then make a vector graphic out of the raster graphic. Obviously, it did not do a fantastic job but we can make changes.

In order to make any changes you need to open up the Image Trace panel by going to Window and clicking on Image Trace. Let’s start by working with the presets. Let’s try the 16 Colors option. Once you choose this preset Illustrator will re-render the image and you will see that we get a little bit more detail than before.

Low Fidelity Photo gives us even more detail and High Fidelity Photo gives us even more details. By changing the Mode to Grayscale we can pick up even more details. Turning the Grays down to about 5 also picks up more details.

Now twirl open the Advanced sections and change the Paths to 100%, Corners to 75%, and Noises to 1 pixel. Now we have a vector graphic that is very close to the original raster graphic. You can now scale this graphic to any size you desire. It is important to remember though that Illustrator will need to re-render the image each time you resize it.


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