I have a raster image, basically a scanned drawing of the outlines (and some detail) of various objects, and I wish to convert these lines to vectors, using either Illustrator or Inkscape.My present solution is to have the raster image as a background layer, and in a new layer above it I use the pen to follow the lines as close as possible. Later I tweak these lines to fit the raster image better. That has worked fine for simple drawings. However for some of my extremely complex drawings, this is very tedious to do.Is there any tool or filter of some sort that is capable of recognizing the lines in line drawings and creating vector paths from them?
The process is very simple. Just follow these steps:
import your raster image into Illustrator by opening it onto a new board, or by placing it.
If the image shows up in Illustrator with a bounding box and a cross through it, link it to AI by going to the top menu: object - rasterize.
With the image selected, open the image trace palette from the top menu: window - image trace
Play with the presets (black and white, 6 colors, 3 colors, high definition, etc). Choose the effect that best suits your taste, expectations, or purpose of the image.
Once you settle on an effect, complete the vectorization by going to the top menu: object - image trace - expand
Your shape is now a vector. By default it will be grouped. You can ungroup if necessary.
The new shape is usually made up of many different points and separate shapes. You can simplify the paths using other tools, such as some preset modes in the Pathfinder palette (i.e.: unite shapes of the same colors, if adjacent to one another), or using tools in the main tool palette to reduce the number of points (and thus the memory of the file).
As a vector shape you are able to modify your image: change size, change colors, add shapes, remove parts, etc.