Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Live Trace

Breaking the Rules: "The Sketchpad" logo has been Live Traced.

Live Trace: Friend or Foe?
William D. SIEMER II

Live Trace! Oh joy! Back in the day I used to scan in hand drawn illustrations and convert them into vectors using a program called Adobe Streamline. They looked alright. Now we are blessed to have Live Trace as a button in Illustrator--or cursed.

It seems like lately when I ask people for a vector of their logo, all I get in return is a low-resolution image saved as an EPS, or better yet, a Live Traced version. Live Trace converts raster images into vector images. It gives everyone in Illustrator the potential to be dangerous.

Sometimes I get files where the text has been live traced and it looks miserable, images are converted through live trace into textures and have thousands of little stray blobs, and logos are completely ruined. If a client says they don't care if their logo isn't streamlined, I will usually recreate it as long as I know it's not going to drastically effect my time (which translates to lost money). I can't get myself to use a Live Trace logo if it compromises the design.

There are some decent uses of Live Trace. It can give the appearance of screen printing and it traces line drawings very well. Designers decide how effective Live Trace can be.

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