How to create a line-art tracing of a bitmap?

Discussion in 'Photoshop Tutorials' started by davsf, Mar 13, 2006.

  1. davsf

    davsf Guest

    I have been asking this question of a couple of other threads (also in
    illustrator), and I can't seem to get anything to work over here. So,
    my fundamental question is: what is the best method to use the PC to
    trace over a bitmap - like I do using tracing paper on top of a
    printout of a bitmap? Which method lets you see your work as you
    proceed, allows you to hide the bitmap by some toggle somewhere, and
    doesn't make "pie-sections" (whited out) of the curved lines you are
    creating during your tracings? Could it be that NO PRODUCT has worked
    this process out yet?

    One method I have used, without much enthusiasm, is to take my bitmap,
    use thumbs plus to dim it considerably, and then use Pbrush (MSPaint)
    to load the dimmed bitmap, and then use line segments to trace over the
    bitmap. Two things make this approach not very useful - ONE, you
    cannot toggle the underlying bitmap as you go (so you can see your line
    art all by itself as you proceed with each new path), and TWO, you
    cannot used CURVED lines with MSPAINT, so you have to make an immensity
    of very small line segments and this is just to time-consuming and
    tiring on the eyes and mouse fingers. If mspaint had one extra layer
    that could be toggled, and if they allowed arcs along with straight
    lines, that would be all that one needed to do really good tracings.
    So, what product will serve here, photoshop? Is there a tutorial that
    will work this out for you?

    littleberry
     
    davsf, Mar 13, 2006
    #1
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  2. davsf

    2 Guest

    Maybe I am simple-minded, but I have a Gateway Tablet computer which lets me
    draw on the screen (which is a big Wacom, too). Create a layer, draw over
    the bitmap with the pen. I suppose you can hit an FKey to show/hide a layer
    but I just hit the winkey-eye.
     
    2, Mar 13, 2006
    #2
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  3. davsf

    davsf Guest

    When you draw over the bitmap with a pen, can you make MULTIPLE curfved
    line segments? I can do the same thing as long as I draw over my
    bitmap in one LONG CONTINUOUS curved-line-path? I need to be able to
    draw many many line-segments and have them all remain visible (and not
    suddenly disappear when I start a new line).
    Can you do that? If so, how do you END one line segment and begin
    another one so that your first line segment stays visible on the
    screen? llittleberry
     
    davsf, Mar 13, 2006
    #3
  4. davsf

    Clyde Guest

    Are you trying to paint over a picture? Or are you trying to turn a
    bitmap picture into a vector based drawing?

    If you want to paint over a picture, buy Painter Essentials. You could
    do this with Photoshop too, but it doesn't sound like you have that.
    Either lets you work on separate layers from what is under it.

    If you want to turn bitmap lines into vector drawings, you want Adobe
    Illustrator with Streamline. CorelDraw would be much less expensive.
    BTW, I never found those automatic bitmap-to-vector tools to work very
    well. Then again, I haven't tried them for a number of years.

    If you have Photoshop, there are some techniques to turn a photo into
    something that looks like a drawing or painting. Well, with limited
    results. Check out this location:

    http://myjanee.home.insightbb.com/tutorials.htm

    Clyde
     
    Clyde, Mar 13, 2006
    #4
  5. davsf

    davsf Guest

    Clyde, I am wanting to use the pen tool (or whichever tool would work
    best) to draw curved lines by hand over a bitmap. In effect, tracing a
    bitmap, and then saveing my tracing all by itself. I need curved lines
    to be able to best approximate the natural curved lines in the visible
    edges of the bitmap. Sometimes the bitmap edges are not visible enough
    for a PC software to detect, but the human eye can extrapolate a
    missing edge and trace over where it should be. That is why I am not
    really interested in any automatic tracing software - I want to do it
    manually with something like the pen tool. I can do ONE LINE, but,
    when I continue to the next curved line, the first one disappears,
    which is driving me nuts because I just don't know why anyone would
    want that and why they programmed it that way. How do folks go about
    tracing over a bitmap to produce a line-art rendering of a bitmap -
    close to whay could be done with pen, printout of a bitmap, and tracig
    paper. I must be missing some big picture here because I would have
    thought this was all worked out already.
    Thanks for the link you provided, but, it didn't speak to making
    line-art tracings. littlberry
     
    davsf, Mar 13, 2006
    #5
  6. wrote:
    : Clyde, I am wanting to use the pen tool (or whichever tool would work
    : best) to draw curved lines by hand over a bitmap. In effect, tracing a
    : bitmap, and then saveing my tracing all by itself. I need curved lines

    We do this a lot with author-provided (poorly-drawn) maps, in ai.
    snippo...

    : I am not interested in any automatic tracing software

    Probably a good idea. I've never found autotracing to be satisfactory.

    : I want to do it manually with something like the pen tool.

    We use the pen tool in ai for tracing, unless it's a simple shape that
    we can see all of it on the monitor without scrolling; then we use the
    pencil tool.

    : I can do ONE LINE, but,
    : when I continue to the next curved line, the first one disappears,

    This sounds like the behavior of the pencil tool, with which it is
    tricksy to add to a line without the original line disappearing. You
    need to be sure to re-draw over a couple of anchor points to add to the
    line.

    Are you sure you are using the pen tool? Its icon is like an
    old-fashioned pen nib; the pencil tool looks like... um.. a pencil.


    : which is driving me nuts because I just don't know why anyone would
    : want that and why they programmed it that way. How do folks go about
    : tracing over a bitmap to produce a line-art rendering of a bitmap -
    : close to whay could be done with pen, printout of a bitmap, and tracig
    : paper.

    If you use the pen tool with lots of little segments, at a high
    magnification, the result mimics the smooth curves of the pencil tool
    reasonably well. Pretty tedious, but with practice one can work quickly
    and neatly. Or, you could investigate using the Bezier nodes to curvify
    pen lines with fewer anchor points.

    One trick is during tracing, make the stroke a bright color that shows
    up well against the bitmap. Makes it easier to see your work. Don't
    forget to change it back to K (or whatever) when you print.

    Oh, and you'll want to make the bitmap non-printing in the "Options for
    Layer Foo" dialogue.
     
    Al Wesolowsky, Mar 13, 2006
    #6
  7. davsf

    tacit Guest

    You need Illustrator.

    Put the bitmap in one layer. Draw in another.

    If you see "pie slices" of white, it is because you have instructed
    Illustrator to assign a white fill to your path. Tell it to fill your
    path with none, not white.
     
    tacit, Mar 14, 2006
    #7
  8. davsf

    tacit Guest

    In Photoshop, when you use the Pen tool, you should always have your
    fingers on the Control and Alt keys. These keys make the Pen tool
    perform different functions.

    To begin a new pen path segment, hold down the Control key to change the
    Pen to the Selection tool, and click. Then release the key and begin
    drawing again.

    To join two segments, click on the end point of one segment with the pen
    tool, then click on the end point of the other segment.
     
    tacit, Mar 14, 2006
    #8
  9. davsf

    davsf Guest

    Thanks, Tacit, the ctrl-down-click-ctrl-up method worked as you say,
    and I am able to make multiple curved line segments. I AM getting the
    whitened "pie slices", and I don't see anywhere to set the "fill"
    preference to "none". I double-clicked layer 2, I pulled down edit, I
    checked every place I could imagine looking for that option, but, it
    eludes me. They have it well-hidden from me. It may seem stupid to an
    experienced user, but, believe me, if you don't know where something
    important like that is, it seems hidden away from you. Please advise
    me as to where I can set the "fill" color for layer 2 to "none".
    Thanks (I am also going to reply to your reply about photoshop, next)
    littleberry
     
    davsf, Mar 14, 2006
    #9
  10. davsf

    davsf Guest

    Thanks, tacit, I tried the ctrl-down-click-ctrl-up method over here on
    photoshop also, but, even though it does indeed start a new curved line
    path, it stubbornly makes my previous curved line paths disappear.
    Did I do something wrong over here? How do you get photoshop to behave
    like Illustrator does in this procedure? I am thinking that
    Illustrator is probably better for doing line-art, but, somehow, I like
    photoshop better because it has so much more it can do - maybe I will
    find that I need both. Thanks, littleberry
     
    davsf, Mar 14, 2006
    #10
  11. davsf

    davsf Guest

    I FOUNT IT! Well, Tacit, I finally did find the fill option - it is a
    teeny tiny itty bitty litte icon on the left hand side of the 2nd row
    of icons at the top, and the point-size for the type is so small (must
    be 2) that I actually couldn't read it without using the magnifier.
    So, now, I think I can get practuve using the pen tool in Illustrator -
    looks like it might be fun. Is there a way to thinken the lines? Or
    does it always use what looks like a two pixel line thickness?
    Thanks, again. littleberry
     
    davsf, Mar 14, 2006
    #11
  12. davsf

    davsf Guest

    Tacit,

    I am trying BOTH photoshop AND illustrator. I tried what you were
    saying about ctrl-down-click-ctrl-up and it works as you say as long as
    I move the mouse AWAY from the last picked point (no problem there).
    But I AM getting the white "pie slices", and I can't find any place to
    "tell Illustator to fill my path with none". Honestly, I tried all the
    pulldown, and double-clicking on layer 2, but, I don't see that option
    anywhere. Please bear with me - it might seem stupid to an experienced
    user, but, I have no idea how to set that preference.

    I have another reply for photoshop, next. Thanks, littlberrey
     
    davsf, Mar 14, 2006
    #12
  13. davsf

    Mike Russell Guest

    In Photoshop CS2, click on the "Paths" icon, third from the left in the
    toolbar for the pen tool.
     
    Mike Russell, Mar 14, 2006
    #13
  14. Mohamed Al-Dabbagh, Mar 14, 2006
    #14
  15. davsf

    davsf Guest

    Well, I found the answer to this also. What I did was to select Paths
    and start my first curved line segment. When I end it
    (ctlr-click-ctlr), it remains visible as I continue with additional
    paths. I can also then click layers again and click create new layer,
    then I can toggle my background bitmap in and out of visibility, still
    being able to draw curved lines using the path tab. I can also dim the
    underlying bitmap by doubleclicking on the layer box and reducing the
    opacity to about 50%. This way, photoshop seems to work about as well
    as Illustrator - unless I am missing something I don't know about yet.
    Thanks, littleberry
     
    davsf, Mar 14, 2006
    #15
  16. davsf

    tacit Guest

    You do this in the Color palette, or in the color swatches in the bottom
    of the Toolbar.

    There are two ways to instruct Illustrator to fill a path with "none"
    instead of "white." The first way is to set your Fill color to None (a
    red line through the box) by clicking on the Fill color (the large solid
    sq uare at the bottom of the Toolbar) and then setting it to None by
    clicking on the red diagonal line below and to the right of the
    Fill/Stroke colors at the bottom of the Toolbar. The second is to use
    Window->Show Colors and choose the color None (white box with a red
    diagonal line through it) in the Color palette.
     
    tacit, Mar 14, 2006
    #16
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