How do I place an image into Adobe Illustrator for Tracing?

First, create a new document and go to FILE from the top menu and then select PLACE.

Navigate and select the image that you want to work with, then go to the bottom and check the template box only and leave all the other boxes unchecked. Then select Place.

embed image

The image will then appear on your artboard but dimmed by 50%. The reason it appears like this is because it will become easier to work with when you start to trace over it.

If your image doesn’t appear in the centre of your artboard then it can be easily moved.

Firstly make sure that your layers panel is visible. If it isn’t go to window from the top menu and make sure layers is ticked. You should now see the layers panel showing 2 layers, a template layer containing your dimmed artwork, will be on the bottom and the layer above will be the layer you will be drawing on.

layers with template

If you need to re-position the image, just select the padlock on the template layer then select and move the image to where you would prefer it. When you’re done just click the padlock again to lock the layer and then click back onto layer 1.

That is basically all you need to do to get started.

But you may have noticed that when we placed the image we left the linked box unchecked. We don’t want a linked image, we want it embedded. As when it comes to sampling the colours from the template layer the colours will appear dimmed, the same as the image appears in the template layer, which is not what we want. We want the true colours of the original.

Try this and you’ll see what I mean. First, press ‘M’ On your keyboard to bring up the rectangle tool and draw a single square or rectangle. Now with the shape selected, PRESS ‘I’ to bring up the eyedropper tool and click any part of your image and your selected shape will now appear in that colour.

Now, try this with a linked image. First create a new document and then same as before, select FILE and PLACE. Only this time make sure the linked and template boxes are checked and then click place.

You will see your image is once again appeared dimmed out in the template layer except this time it’s a linked image. 

Click into layer 1 and draw any shape again. While selected press ‘I’ for the eyedropper tool and sample the colour from the template layer below. You will notice that this time it appears dimmed like the image on the template layer.  So this is why we always embed the image instead of linking so that the colours appear correct and not dimmed.

Although if you’re not going to be sampling the colours from your original artwork, then it doesn’t matter whether the image is linked or embedded.

You can also copy and paste an image onto your artboard or drag from your desktop.

Here is the same image I’ve pasted onto the artboard. Although this time you will notice that it’s not dimmed, that’s because it’s not been set as a template. But all you need to do is double click the layer with the image that you want to be the template layer and select template. The image will now appear dimmed and the layer will be locked.

Then click the new layer icon and you can then work from that layer as before.

Although one thing we didn’t do was to embed the image, so it’s currently a linked image. So if you need it embedded, simply click on the padlock and select the image. You will notice the 2  lines going across the image which means it’s a linked image.

linked image in illustrator

Then select EMBED from the menu. You will now notice the 2 cross lines have disappeared.

embedded image in illustrator

Click back on the lock and back onto layer above.