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Creating a realistic contoured effect in Illustrator.

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Rob Thomas
Creating a realistic contoured effect in Illustrator.
on Jan 28, 2013 at 10:06:32 pm

Hi everyone,

I am new to illustrator and have kind of a complex graphic to create. It's my logo and you can see it on
I created this in photoshop using the inner bevel effect. I cannot see how to create this in illustrator or cannot seem to live trace the image to make this work. I need to create a vector so I can blow it up to any size.

Any help would be appreciated.



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Vincent Rosati
Re: Creating a realistic contoured effect in Illustrator. | Vectorize a Logo
on Jan 29, 2013 at 2:08:46 am

Live Trace is great, but I'd avoid it for creating a logo.
I'd recommend that you vectorize the logo in AI, manually, so that you have a resolution independent master.

Once you have that, you can attempt coloring techniques in Illustrator, or scale the art in Photoshop to whatever size and then apply the colors and filters.

Depending on how it was built in Photoshop, you may already have many of the components that you need by using Photoshop's File > Export Paths to Illustrator - if you used paths to create the original.
Otherwise, you'll have to redraw it in Illustrator.

There are techniques for creating Photoshop-like effects in AI, but the effects in your example are probably best created in PS.

Coloring in AI can be an extensive subject. There are so many approaches; flat coloring/shading, gradients, filters like inner glow, gradient meshes, blends, opacity masks, etc. This can become a very advanced project.

If you decide to go with the Live Trace approach...
  1. Remove all of the filters in Photoshop, and create a black & white version of the file.
  2. Flatten and upscale the art about 400% using Bicubic Sharper.
  3. Save as a TIF w/ LZW compression or PSD
  4. Open in AI for Live Trace and Object > Expand

Just some initial thoughts.


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