Bitmap vs. Vector Example

Coca-Cola Vector Tracing

Reference photo used for tracing

The Reference Photo

Tracing work is good fun, and I enjoy working on these practice “fan-art” projects.  It’s a great way to hone one skill at a time, and there’s always new techniques to learn in Adobe Illustrator.

For this project, I’ve used a photograph and traced it over into a piece of vector art.  Vector is the way to go for a lot of graphic needs, because you can make it once then scale it to any size.  Photographs get a little splotchy if you scale them up too much.

The photo had plenty of resolution to get good precision for the vector art.  Around the lid was blown out to white a bit, but Photoshop helped crank up the contrast, so no big problem (the vector lid ended up nicely detailed compared the photo.)

Vector Handles and Anchors

Vector Handles and Anchors

The actual tracing is a pretty simple concept, you take a photo and draw around the edges to make line art.  In practice, the tough part is placing the lines right so that you get smooth curves instead of sloppy weirdness.

The Coca-Cola logo flows with each line a well-formed curve, with no wonky parts commonly found in this kind of hand-drawn logo.  It deftly takes a potentially chaotic design and balances it right out.  The logo looks good because it’s well-made to the core, and well-made things looks good.  It definitely deserves its spot in the “all time best logos” category.

Big image of the final vector art

Big image of the final vector art

The last step is to add color to each outlined shape in the line art.  There are lots of gradients used, plus blends and transparencies to get that smooth, dramatic look.

The stylized vector art is capable of improving any photograph into a marketable asset.  Definitely worth keeping in mind.

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