From Raster to Vector: How to Vectorize and Upscale Images in Adobe Illustrator – Graphic Design Tutorial

Vectorizing and upscaling images in Adobe Illustrator is a common task in graphic design. Converting raster (bitmap) images into vector graphics allows you to maintain the quality of an image when scaling it up. Here’s a step-by-step tutorial on how to vectorize and upscale images in Illustrator:

Step 1: Open Adobe Illustrator

Launch Adobe Illustrator and create a new document or open an existing one where you want to work on your image.

Step 2: Import the Raster Image

  • Go to “File” > “Place” and select the raster image you want to vectorize and upscale.
  • Click “Place” to import the image into your Illustrator document.

Step 3: Raster to Vector Conversion

Illustrator has a powerful tool called “Image Trace” that can convert raster images into vectors:

  • Select the imported raster image.
  • In the top menu, you’ll see the “Image Trace” button. Click on it. If you don’t see it, go to Object > Image Trace > Make.
  • A panel will appear on the right side of the screen with various tracing options. You can choose from preset options or manually adjust settings based on your image and desired result. Play around with settings like “Threshold,” “Paths,” and “Colors” to achieve the look you want.
  • Click the “Preview” button to see a preview of the vectorized image. Adjust the settings until you are satisfied with the result.

Step 4: Expand the Image Trace

Once you are happy with the preview, you need to expand the image trace to turn it into editable vector objects:

  • Click the “Expand” button in the control panel or the “Expand” button in the Image Trace panel.
  • This will convert the traced image into individual vector objects.

Step 5: Refine and Edit

After expanding the image trace, you can further refine and edit your vector image:

  • Use the selection tool (black arrow) to select and move individual vector objects.
  • Use the direct selection tool (white arrow) to adjust anchor points and paths.
  • Add or remove elements, change colors, or make any other necessary adjustments to fine-tune the image.

Step 6: Upscale the Vector Image

Now that you have a vector image, you can upscale it without losing quality:

  • Select the entire vector image or individual elements you want to scale.
  • Go to “Object” > “Transform” > “Scale.”
  • In the Scale dialog box, enter the percentage or dimensions you want to scale the image to. Make sure to check the “Preview” box to see how it will look.
  • Click “OK” to apply the scaling.

Step 7: Save Your Vectorized Image

Once you’re satisfied with the vectorized and upscaled image, save it as an Adobe Illustrator file (AI) or export it to a format like SVG, EPS, or PDF, depending on your needs.

That’s it! You’ve successfully vectorized and upscaled an image in Adobe Illustrator. This process allows you to maintain image quality and edit your design more flexibly.