WHY are Adobe product still SO bad at tracing to vector?

Community Beginner ,
Apr 30, 2022 Apr 30, 2022

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I've been using Photoshop since version 2, back in the early 90's, and Illustrator since version 7 came out in...96? 97? Something like that. And I am still blow away but just how BAD both are at building paths from raster. I have 3rd party tools than take a PHOTOGRAPH and produce a VERY respectable vector equivalent, but, even shelving that, why it cannot take a SMOOTH CURVE and produce a reasonable path escapes me.

JJUST_0-1651342666588.png

See this? This was made by DRAWING A VECTOR CURVE, monochrome, then rasterizing it, then tracing it. So don't tell me there some invisible artifact causing the jitter. But fine. Let's go clean it up.

JJUST_1-1651342802376.png

What the... oh, dear, okay, well, then...

JJUST_2-1651342844396.png

Yahhh! YOU'RE MAKING IT WORSE! You would think that the umpteen vertices it needed to translate the MIDDLE of that smooth curve would be sufficient to define an anchor wouldn't you?

I just don't get why some kid in his garage can make a plug-in that can manage this, but Adobe, THE "GRAPHIC PEOPLE" haven't gotten a win on it after 35 YEARS. You've never even BOUGHT one of the respectable tools for performing the operation to integrate with your own! That's been your thing in recent years, right? Like, what? Macromedia didn't have one so it's not worth pursuing?

 

I'm a software engineer myself. And while I don't assert it's an easy ask, I'm pretty confident it wouldn't take me 3.5 DECADES to at least get KINDA CLOSE! If nothing else, go HIRE THE KID IN HIS GARAGE!

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Bug , Draw and design , Feature request , Tools

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Apr 30, 2022 Apr 30, 2022

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This is a public forum of users helping users. Do you have a question?

 

Maybe you'd like to adjust the tracing options, but honestly I've never seen that kind of result even with the default automatic setting. 

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Advocate ,
Apr 30, 2022 Apr 30, 2022

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I've never been very happy with any raster to vector auto-tracing system. That's coming from someone with 30+ years of experience using various graphic design applications, including almost 30 years of using Adobe software. Live Trace and Live Paint within Illustrator is decent for some purposes. Sometimes I'll use Photoshop and the combination of its Color Range and Make Work Path commands to generate auto-traced artwork; the paths generated there tend to be closed loops, not a bunch of open line segments with line strokes added. Closed paths are more friendly to vinyl cutters and routing tables. With a lot of the kinds of work I do (sign design/manufacturing) any raster/vector conversion must be clean and precise. So I end up doing a lot of that work by hand using Illustrator's Pen Tool, the Inkscribe Tool from Astute Graphics and various other tools.

 

There are many variables that go into an automated raster/vector conversion yielding acceptable results. First of all the source image needs to be pretty high in real, native resolution. Some tiny JPEG image grabbed off a web site is going to be worthless to any auto-tracing application. Like Monica said, you have to experiment with different settings. Any automated auto-tracing system will be prone to render paths that aren't cleanly accurate in relation to the source image. Any of those systems can generate lots of anchor points. Any third party filter that doesn't generate lots of points is likely running the result through a points reduction operation before finishing the task.

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Community Beginner ,
May 01, 2022 May 01, 2022

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Really, I suspect it's a matter of how they're interpolating their curves. This is why it frustrates me so much (and is at the heart, @Monika Gause, of the question I DID ask in the title of the post: WHY are they still so bad?). I'm actually hoping someone has a technical reason for it, or possible hope on the horizon (e.g. "actually, their new version is supposed to..." or "the underlying infrastructure of the application was written in Python, a floating-point language, which struggles with bezier curvers", or "their curve plotting algorythm was written by a drunken monkey in purple crayon and nobody can find contractors that still work on/in crayon."). I'm not JUST ranting... I really AM asking.

 

@Bobby Henderson: your behaviors are in-keeping with my own. I will typically perform the conversion itself in one of a couple external tools, then import them and do finish work in AI/PS (although there're a couple respectasble pay plug-ins for PS... which is what serves to provoke my ire. Clearly the platform is CAPABLE of doing it... just not by the manufacturer?). It's the finish/cleanup work that drives me nutty though. I mean, consider the following EXTREMELY COMMON scenario (color emphasis added, obviously):

JJUST_2-1651425420436.png
Now say I remove the red anchor on the left. I would expect to see something pretty close to:

JJUST_3-1651425495444.png

...as the curve separating the left blue anchor and the right red anchor is THE SAME, with or without the removed anchor (and, indeed, I can manually manipulate the line to align with it perfectly. It's also worth noting I DREW the curve in the same software). At WORST, I'd expect:

JJUST_4-1651425633144.png

...which, albeit, I'd be equally pissed about. Instead? We get:

JJUST_5-1651425682320.png

...which is a consequence of the software failing to adjust the remaining red anchor's angle stem (and since it extended farther out than the removed point, here we are; at least, that's the only thing that makes SOME intuitive sense to me as to the why). And, what with two points ALWAYS being needed to define a line, this seems like a somewhat egregious oversight to me. It's not like this is a corner case (yanno, unless I remove the other red anchor. Then it will "helpfully" CREATE a corner FOR me...)

 

I guess what I'm asking is, IS there a use case or work flow in which someone, anywhere, ever would prefer this result? At least in my case, 99% of the time I'm removing anchors by hand like this is to simplify the path. NOT make it so I have to REDRAW the stupid thing every third click. Does anyone have any insight as to WHY this seems so incredibly hard to one of the pioneer, preeminent sources for graphics software?



 

 

 

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Adobe Community Professional ,
May 01, 2022 May 01, 2022

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You have probably missed that part, but when you use the delete anchor point tool and then press shift while deleting the point, then Illustrator keeps the curvature.

 

Also: Please upload sample images that produce bad trace results for you.

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Community Beginner ,
May 01, 2022 May 01, 2022

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Monika, you're still not following my question here. Shoot: draw an oval. Rotate it any amount. Rasterize it. Now trace it. How many anchors are you seeing to maintain the same geometry?

 

Pick virtually any raster image more complex than a simple geometry and run a trace. If you can show me a single example in which the anchors being generated are even close to the those you would map by hand, then I'll withdraw my question.

 

Which, I again reiterate: What are the TECHNICAL CHALLENGES that prevent this from being accomplished? You're telling me software that can rotoscope a part of an image out with a couple of clicks (a process which involves tracing an object) needs to generate 300 anchors to manage a smooth curve? 

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Adobe Community Professional ,
May 01, 2022 May 01, 2022

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The answer to your question is, we don't know, we're users like yourself. We have no clue why Adobe does or doesn't do what you need. We just try to help users use the features the software offers, as is.

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Adobe Community Professional ,
May 01, 2022 May 01, 2022

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@JJ-UST are you here with two different accounts?

 

As @Monika Gause said:

Please give a sample file to trace and, best of all, a comparison file that shows the automatically created (good) path of your third-party software.

 

Then we can compare and talk about something concrete. Everything else - with a file created by everyone themselves depends entirely on size, resolution, tracing settings etc. and will always produce different results that cannot be compared.

 

My 2 cents

Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)

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