How to Convert JPEG to Vector in File Illustrator

By Paul Kemp

Adobe Illustrator is a powerful program for creating vector-based graphics. These are images that are made of anchor points and set to a mathematical format, which allows users to increase or decrease the size of the graphics without disturbing the quality. With Illustrator’s Live Trace feature, users can now convert photographic images like jpeg files into vectors in a few simple steps.

Things You'll Need

  • Adobe Illustrator CS2 or higher
  • Jpeg image(s)

Step 1

Launch Illustrator and select “File > Open” from the application menu at the top of the computer screen. Locate the jpeg you would like to convert to a vector file and click “Open.”

Step 2

Select “Object > Live Trace > Tracing Options.” Make sure the preview box is checked in the resulting dialogue box.

Step 3

Click the “Preset” dropdown and select the option that most closely fits the image as you would like it to be vectorized. Move the figure in the “Max Colors” slider higher to get closer to the original look of the jpeg file and click “Trace.”

Step 4

Select “Object > Live Trace > Expand” from the application menu. This will create anchor points at the appropriate portions of your image. You can now expand or contract the size of the image without degrading it by clicking and dragging one of the corner points of the bounding box around your image using the “Selection Tool” from the Tools Panel to the left of your canvas.

Step 5

Select “File > Save As” from the application menu. Name your file, select a location for it and make sure it is set to save in one of the common vector file formats (.ai or .eps) by clicking on the “Format” dropdown.

Tips & Warnings

  • Expanding a photograph jpeg into a vector file while maintaining all of the color properties is generally going to result in a large file with a huge amount of anchor points. You can reduce the amount of anchor points (this will also result in a less precise vector) by lowering the figure in the “Threshold” slider in the control menu above the canvas.