Re-create a Logo from a Poor Quality Scan with Illustrator

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Re-create a Logo from a Poor Quality Scan with Illustrator

Re-create a Logo from a Poor Quality Scan with Illustrator
Text and images © Sandra Trainor

I will use Illustrator CS4 to re-create a logo from a poor quality scan, three different ways; first I'll automatically trace the logo using Live Trace, then I'll manually trace the logo using a template layer, and finally I'll use a matching font. Each has its pros and cons, which you'll discover as you follow along.

To follow along, right click on the below link to save a practice file to your computer, then open the image in Illustrator.

Practice File: practicefile_logo.png

What Software do I Need to Create a Logo?

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Adjust the Artboard Size

Adjust the Artboard Size
Text and images © Sandra Trainor

The Artboard tool allows me to resize documents, replacing the former Crop tool. I will double-click the Artboard Tool in the Tools panel, and in the Artboard Options dialog box I'll make the Width 725px and the Height 200px, then click OK. To exit the artboard-editing mode I can click a different tool in the Tools panel or press Esc.

I will choose File > Save As, and rename the file, "live_trace." This will preserve the practice file for later use.

What Software do I Need to Create a Logo?

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Use Live Trace

Use Live Trace
Text and images © Sandra Trainor

Before I can use Live Trace, I need to set the tracing options. I will select the logo with the Selection tool, then choose Object > Live Trace > Tracing Options.

In the Tracing Options dialog box, I'll set the Preset to Default, the Mode to Black and White, and the Threshold to 128, then click Trace.

I will choose Object > Expand. I'll make sure that Object and Fill are selected in the dialog box, then click OK.

Using the Live Trace Feature in Illustrator

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Change the Color

Change the Color
Text and images © Sandra Trainor

To change the color of the logo, I will click on the Live Paint Bucket tool in the Tools panel, choose Window > Color, click the panel menu icon in the upper-right corner of the Color panel to choose the CMYK color option, then indicate the CMYK color values. I'll type in 100, 75, 25, and 8, which makes blue.

With the Live Paint Bucket tool, I will click on different parts of the logo, one section at a time, until the entire logo is blue.

That's it! I've just re-created a logo using Live Trace. The advantage of using Live Trace is that it's quick. The disadvantage is that it isn't perfect.

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View Outlines

View Outlines
Text and images © Sandra Trainor

To look closely at the logo and its outlines, I'll click on it with the Zoom tool and choose View > Outline. Notice that the lines are somewhat wavy.

I will choose View > Preview to return to viewing the logo in color. Then I'll choose View > Actual Size, then File > Save, and File > Close.

Now I can move on to re-create the logo again, only this time I will manually trace the logo using a template layer, which takes longer but looks better.

Adobe Illustrator Basics and Tools

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Create a Template Layer

Create a Template Layer
Text and images © Sandra Trainor

Since the practice file was preserved early on, I can open it again. I will choose practicefile_logo.png, and this time I'll rename it, "manual_trace." Next, I'll create a template layer.

A template layer holds an image that is dimmed so to easily see the paths that you draw in front of it. To create a template layer, I will double-click the layer in the Layers panel, and in the Layer Options dialog box I'll choose Template, dim the image to 30%, and click OK.

Know that you can choose View > Hide to hide the template, and View > Show Template to see it again.

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Manually Trace Logo

Manually Trace Logo
Text and images © Sandra Trainor

In the Layers panel, I will click the Create New Layer icon. With the new layer selected I'll choose View > Zoom In.

I can now manually trace over the template image with the Pen tool. It's easier to trace without color, so if the Fill box or Stroke box in the Tools panel shows a color, click on the box then under it click on the None icon. I'll trace both the inner and outer shapes, such as the outer circle and inner circle that together form the letter O.

If you're unfamiliar with the Pen tool, just click to plot points, which creates lines. Click and drag to create curved lines. When the first point made connects with the last point made it creates a shape.

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Indicate Stroke Weight and Apply Color

Indicate Stroke Weight and Apply Color
Text and images © Sandra Trainor

If the new layer is not at the top in the Layers panel, click and drag it above the template layer. You can recognize the template layer by its template icon, which replaces the eye icon.

I will choose View > Actual size, then with the Selection tool I'll Shift-click the two lines that represent the pages of a book. I'll choose Window > Stroke, and in the Stroke panel I'll change the weight to 3 pt.

To make the lines blue, I'll double-click the Stroke box in the Tools panel and enter the same CMYK color values used earlier, which are 100, 75, 25, and 8.

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Apply Fill Color

Apply Fill Color
Text and images © Sandra Trainor

To apply a fill color, I will Shift-click the paths that make up the shapes that I want to be blue, then double-click the Fill box in the Tools panel. In the Color Picker, I'll indicate the same CMYK color values as before.

When you don't know the exact color values of a logo, but you have in your computer a file that shows the logo in color, you can open the file and click on the color with the Eyedropper tool to sample it. The color values will then be revealed in the Color panel.

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Arrange the Shapes

Arrange the Shapes
Text and images © Sandra Trainor

With the Selection tool, I will Shift-click the path segments that make up the shapes that I want to cut out or appear white, and choose Object Arrange > Bring to Front.

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Cut Out Shapes

Cut Out Shapes
Text and images © Sandra Trainor

I will cut the the shapes that I want to appear white out of the shapes that are blue. To do so, I'll Shift-click on a pair of shapes, choose Window > Pathfinder, and in the Pathfinder panel I'll click on the Subtract from Shape Area button. I'll do this with each pair of shapes until it's done.

That's it. I've just re-created a logo by tracing it manually with use of template layer, and before that I re-created the same logo using Live Trace. I could stop here, but now I want to re-create the logo using a matching font.

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Make a Second Artboard

Make a Second Artboard
Text and images © Sandra Trainor

Illustrator CS4 allows me to have multiple artboards in one document. So, instead of closing the file and opening a new one, I will click the Artboard tool in the Tools panel, then click and drag to draw a second artboard. I'll make this artboard the same size as the other one, then press Esc.

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Trace Part of the Logo

Trace Part of the Logo
Text and images © Sandra Trainor

Before I begin tracing, I want create a second template image and a new layer. In the Layers panel, I click the lock next to left of the template layer to unlock it, and click the circle to the right of the template layer to target the template image, then choose Copy > Paste. With the Selection tool, I'll drag the pasted template image onto the new artboard and center it. In the Layers panel, I'll click the square next to the template layer to lock it again, then click on the Create New Layer button in the layers panel.

With the new layer selected, I'll trace the image that represents a book, minus its connected letter B. To apply color, I'll make sure that the paths are selected, then choose the Eyedropper tool and click on the blue logo within the top artboard to sample its color. The selected paths will then fill with this same color.

Using Live Trace in Illustrator

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Copy and Paste Part of the Logo

Copy and Paste Part of the Logo
Text and images © Sandra Trainor

Within the top artboard, I'll Shift-click the paths that represent the pages of the book plus the JR. I'll choose Edit > Copy. With the new layer selected, I'll choose Edit > Paste, then click and drag the pasted paths onto the template and into place.

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Add Text

Add Text
Text and images © Sandra Trainor

Because I recognize one of the fonts as being Arial, I can use it to add text. If you have this font in your computer you can follow along.

In the Character panel I'll specify Arial for the font, make the style Regular, and the size 185 pt. With the Type tool selected I'll type the word, "Books." I'll then use the Selection tool to click and drag the text onto the template.

To apply color to the font, I can again use the Eyedropper tool to sample the blue color, which will fill the selected text with the same color.

Illustrator Tutorials for Type, Text Effects, and Logos

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Kern the Text

Kern the Text
Text and images © Sandra Trainor

I need to kern the text so that it properly aligns with the template. To kern text, place the cursor between two characters then set the kerning in the Character panel. In the same way, continue to kern the rest of the text.

I'm done! I now have a logo that is partially traced with added text, plus the other two logos that I re-created earlier; using Live trace and using a template layer for tracing manually. It's nice to know different ways of re-creating a logo, since how you choose to re-create a logo may depend on time constraints, quality standards, and whether or not you have a matching font.

Adobe Illustrator User Resources

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