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How to Convert a Drawing to a Vector in Adobe Illustrator

Posted on 10th January 2017
1- Open up Ai.


2- Create a new document.


3- Import your drawing File > Place.

Note- make sure your drawing is on a white background and black drawing if possible as we need a good contrast. you can edit your image in photoshop if you need to. 


4- Select your drawing.


5- We now need to trace it. Go to Object (1) > Image Trace (2) > Make (3).


6- Select the Image trace options in the top toolbar. A new palette will appear. Adjust the threshold till you are happy with the trace.


7- Once happy with your trace go to Object (1) > Expand (2).


8- A new box will pop up. Ensure the Object and Fill options are checked, then click ok.


9- If you click Ctrl +Y on your PC you will bring up all the true lines/edit points that make up your drawing.

You will also see a box around your newly made vector file. We do not need this box. We will need to remove it.

10- To remove the unwanted box, select the magic wand tool and select the black part of your drawing.

Note- if you cannot see the black lines use Ctrl+ Y to toggle between the lines and the edit points.


11-  Once your black lines are selected with the magic wand tool go to Edit (1) > Cut (2).


12-  It will appear that your image has disappeared. this is not the case. Go to your Direct Select tool and select it. Click and drag over where your image was. You will now select all the unwanted parts of your vector image we don't need. Including the outside rectangle box we had on screen.

Once everything is selected, click backspace or delete to remove them.


13-  To bring back what we need which is the vector file, go to Edit (1) > Paste in Place (2)

This will bring back your file without the box around it.


14-  At this point you can save your vector image which can now be used in many different programs like silhouette cutting software etc.

We can also use it here in Ai.

As it is now a vector image we can fill it and change the colour. As an example I have placed a gradient in the image to give a fire effect in the feather.

The files used are from and the file is called Floral sketch and watercolour

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