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Do you know if you could convert a picture of someone into a drawing on Illustrator?
There is no way to automatically do it well. If you're not too fussy about the results, "Vector Magic" is probably the best autotrace program available.

Here is an example:



That is a portion of a 600 DPI scan of the Coca-Cola logo. This is nearly a "best case scenario" for an autotrace program; i.e., only two colors, high DPI, sharp transisitions between colors, etc.

Here are the results of an autotrace in Vector Magic:



And here is a zoomed in view:



Here is a manual trace using the pen tool in Illustrator:



And a zoomed in view:



Feed an autotrace program some trickier raster images and you'll get far worse results than the ones I posted above. The main problem is that the algorithm doesn't "know" anything. For example, a human can look at the spine of the "a" and know it is supposed to be a straight line, even if a pixel-by-pixel examination shows that it has some jagged edges. Humans have an eye for what "looks right" in general; the algorithm doesn't.
 

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That is a pretty good visual example, but can Vector Magic be ajusted for looser or tighter tolerence? Streamline allowes for several different factors to be manulipated. Such as Outline, Centerline, Line Recognition. You can also suppress noise, ajust for straight, curved or Straight and curved lines, and a lot more. Streamline has been a very handy little addition to Illustrator over the years.
But if i was going to use the coke logo from scratch i'm use example #2 and just draw it with the pen tool.
It probably took you less then 10 minutes to do that.
I'd be curious to see Vector Magic in action.
Vector Magic has minimal settings, but it still tends to give better results than either Corel or Adobe, no matter what you try in their large array of settings. In that example, I used the "high" setting for "output detail". With the "medium" setting, the results are less jagged, but still wavy.

You can try Vector Magic online (it started out as strictly a web application). Just go to their site, upload something, and click a few buttons.

I'm not sure what you mean when you said you'd "use example #2". The first image is the raster scan. The second image is Vector Magic's autotrace of the scan (and the third image is the same thing, but zoomed in). The fourth image is my manual trace of the scan, using the Illustrator pen tool (and the fifth image is the same thing, but zoomed in).

And yeah, it doesn't take long to manually trace something simple like that with the pen tool, and the results of a manual trace-done-right are always better than any autotrace that's currently available.
 

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hi dragonfly,

i tried vector magic and it sucked! for me anyways. worse $6.95 or something like that a month i believe. it has been awhile. i was just getting into design and i would have jpeg logos and images for t-shirts and i needed them vectorized. the output was always junky for me no matter the settings i used. very, very amateur results at best. i remember there were options of other formats and greater dpi and stuff, junk.

since then i bought adobe illustator and i do it all myself by manual trace, auto trace or original vector designs.

don't waste your time.
Vector Magic tends to give better results than either Adobe or Corel's autotrace functions. With that said, autotrace inherently sucks in general.

Here's something you can try:



Autotrace that image in any program you wish. It should be the easiest thing in the world right? Just 2 colors, perfectly straight lines, no antialiasing; just purely black and purely white pixels. Vector Magic can actually do that trace perfectly. Here's a closeup of what Adobe's Live Trace in CS4 does:



Nice, huh? If it can't even handle tracing the simplest image imaginable, it certainly isn't going to handle anything more complex than that.
 

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I've attached a raster image of Vector Magic's autotrace of your mastiff.

Autotrace can be okay for certain types of images I suppose, but it is never as good/accurate as a good manual trace. With the stuff I deal with mostly (vectorizing high DPI scans of old arcade artwork for screen printed reproduction runs), autotrace is unacceptable; it is not accurate enough.

For example, I did this recently, and he's gearing up to print them right now. I did the file for this as well; and this too. I had to trace the "Ducking Pull" text on that because I couldn't find an exact match for the original font. That came out really well. Here is a comparison with an NOS (new old stock) original from 1984 with the reproduction (the original is on the bottom; easy to tell because Rich took that picture before he die-cut the mounting holes):



Here is a comparison picture that the owner of the original took when he got the reproduction:



I don't remember which is which.

In any event, when you are converting a photo of a real person, place, or thing to a simplified "vector art" style image, there is inherently a lot of interpreting that goes on, rather than exact replication. Autotrace programs are better suited to that sort of thing than they are to exact replication.
 

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What the heck is a "Ducking Pull"??????
Have you ever played Punch-Out!! (1984), the arcade version (Mike Tyson's Punch-Out [1987] for the NES was based on it)? In late '84 or early '85, Nintendo released a sequel to PO called Super Punch-Out!! (not to be confused with the 1994 SNES game of the same title). It was offered as a conversion kit for existing PO cabinets. It was nearly the same game as PO, but it had new opponents and it added the ability to "duck" an attack, rather than just being able to dodge left and right.

For the ducking function, the conversion kit included a new joystick which added a 5th microswitch so that when you pulled the joystick straight up (toward the sky), it tripped the 5th switch. They also included the little red "Ducking Pull" sticker which was to be applied on the existing PO control panel around the base of the joystick. It was reverse screen printed on clear 7 mil Lexan, the same as the control panel overlay itself.

There is only one original unapplied NOS "Ducking Pull" sticker in existence that anyone knows about, and the owner of it scanned it in so it could be reproduced for others that wanted to restore their SPO machine. A similar situation existed with the "Super" sideart decal (also for SPO), except in this case, I had the only known unapplied NOS original. That one was tricky to vectorize, because it has curved halftone gradients (making a gradient in Illustrator is easy; making it conform to an exact curve and outer shape is not so easy).

Yeah even having to hand draw the text its about 15 to 20 minutes of hand work with the pen tool.
It depends on how accurate you want to be. Uniform "typeface" style text like that can be tricky to get just right (i.e., perfectly follow the curves and lines of the original, plus have perfectly smooth transitions on every single achor point and proper symmetry). I don't remember how long it took me exactly; maybe an hour (less time than I spent futily looking for a matching font). I could trace all those letters in like 5 minutes and have it be "close enough for government work", but I'm somewhat of a perfectionist.

The funny thing is; the most time-consuming part of doing that particular file wasn't in the tracing at all; it was determining the exact sizes and positions of the holes which would be die-cut. Even being off by a small fraction of an inch would mean that the reproductions would not line up correctly with the existing holes in the steel PO control panels.

Auto trace anything is just not going to help with a design like that.
Exactly, and most vector-style art is like that; i.e., lots of straight lines and long smooth curves; and that is the type of art where errors are the most obvious.
 
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