Using Vector Graphics in Rotoscoping

Adobe Illustrator’s vector graphics allow photographers and videographers to easily create animations from live action video sequences or images. This is known as rotoscoping, and it is popular in stop-action animation. While generally you need to know something about Illustrator to use this tool, even beginners can catch on with these easy step-by-step instructions. Beginners should be prepared to practice quite a bit before they get it right.

Step 1: Using Rotoscoping

Rotoscoping is a great way to turn images into animations without actually having to draw the images. Basically, you are taking a piece of pre-recorded video or an image and converting that into a line drawing. Yet, it is not just any line drawing, but a line that reflects a real life scene or person.

Rotoscoping can be done in nearly any type of image or video editing program, but Adobe Illustrator’s vectors make the process really easy. And, if you already know how to use vectors, then you just need to know a few more steps to turn that skill into rotoscoping.

Step 2: Opening the Image

When importing the image, place it on the Art Board. This will allow you to start editing the image as an animation.

Step 3: Converting the Image into a Trace Image

Once the image is open, go to the Live Trace dropdown menu at the top, and select the arrow next to it. This will open up some options. Scroll down to Tracing Options. This will open up the Tracing Options dialog box.

Next, select preview. This will allow you to see what changes are being made to the image as he works. Within the dialog box, there are three options for color. Generally for rotoscoping, you will want to select black and white since it will make the photo look more like a line drawing. From there, the Threshold can be manipulated to either increase or decrease contrast within the image.

You can also play around with the other options in the screen until you get it the way that you would like it to look. Then, hit trace.

Step 4: Using the Vectors

Now, the image should be a black and white drawing. It is time to add vectors to the photograph. Go to the top, and go into the Object dropdown menu. Select Expand. Then, hit the Expand button that popped into the toolbar. This has converted the image into vectors.

You can now change the individual colors of the vector simply by clicking on that vector. For example, if the background color needs to be changed, use the selection tool, and click on it. Then, go to the Select dropdown menu at the top, and then Same. In this dropdown menu, select Fill Color.