How to Trace on a Tablet in Illustrator

Written by elle smith
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How to Trace on a Tablet in Illustrator
A graphics tablet makes tracing and drawing an effortless process. (John Foxx/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

A drawing tablet is an important computer peripheral for digital artists who use Adobe Illustrator. Drawing with a stylus or pen tool is easier than using a mouse or trackpad; you can apply different pressures or use different pen angles in your drawing style, and brush strokes appear much more natural when drawn with the pen. The software also has several features that can only be accessed by using a drawing tablet. Tracing is a basic function of the drawing tablet and requires no artistic skill or expertise.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Drawing tablet
  • Pen or stylus
  • USB cable

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  1. 1

    Ensure that your tablet is plugged into your USB port.

  2. 2

    Open a new Illustrator document. Select "Place" from the "File" menu, then select either EPS, PDF, JPEG or TIFF file. Select "Template," and then click "Place." Illustrator will place the file in a template layer below the tracing layer, and the image will be dimmed by 50 per cent.

  3. 3

    Place the pen stylus tool on the tablet. Double-click on the "Brush" tool from the Tool palette. Change the pressure sensitivity, roundness of brush or diameter of the stroke to your preferred settings. Choose a stroke colour, opacity and other attributes from the Illustrator dock, including length, strength and thickness of the bristles.

  4. 4

    Place the pen nib on the image and draw the perimeter of the object. Fill in the interior as needed. Complete as much detail as you desire. Assign gradients, textures, fills or other graphic styles as desired.

  5. 5

    Delete the template layer when finished by selecting "Layers" from "Windows" menu. Locate the template layer in the layers palette, click to highlight it, then drag it to the small trash icon at the bottom of the palette window.

  6. 6

    Click "Save As" and name your traced file.

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