How to Edit Photos in Illustrator

By Joanne Thomas

Adobe Illustrator is not specifically designed for editing photos, but it has a number of functions that allow you to do so. While its photo-editing functions are not as complex as those in Photoshop, for example, they enable you to import and manipulate photos in many ways, and also to incorporate them into illustrations. The best way to learn how to edit photos in Illustrator is to experiment.

Things You'll Need

  • Digital photographs
  • Adobe Illustrator

Step 1

Open Adobe Illustrator, then open the photo you wish to edit in this page by clicking on "Open Document" then selecting the icon representing the digital photo file. Alternatively, open a new blank Illustrator document, open "My Documents" and drag the icon of the photo onto the blank page.

Step 2

Change the size of the photograph. To do this, click on the icon for the "Selection Tool" (the solid black arrow in the left-hand tool bar) and click on the photo. Click on "Object" in the upper tool bar, then "Transform" then "Scale." A box titled "Scale" should appear in the window. In the box next to "Uniform," enter a new percentage to enlarge or reduce the size of the photo. Check the box next to "Preview" to examine the results, and click "OK" when you are happy with the size.

Step 3

Crop the photograph to remove sections that you don't want. To do this, select the "Rectangle Tool" from the tool bar on the left. Click and drag the tool over the page to draw a rectangle around the section of the photo that you want to keep. Now click on the "Selection Tool," hold down the "Shift" button on your keyboard, and click on the photo, then the rectangle to select both. Click on "Object" in the upper toolbar, then "Clipping Mask" then "Make."

Step 4

Create a version of your photo that appears to have been traced with a pen or pencil for an interesting effect. Select the photo with the "Selection Tool," click "Object" in the upper toolbar, then "Live Trace," then "Tracing Options." Experiment with the settings in the "Tracing Options" window and click preview to see the results.

Step 5

Experiment with the special effects by clicking on "Effect" in the upper toolbar and selecting "Effect Gallery." Try clicking on the various options and examine the results. The effect will not be applied until you click "OK." Try the "Stamp" option under "Sketch" to make your photo look like a rubber stamped image. Try "Poster Edges" to make it look like a poster. Try the various paint effects to turn photos into faux works of art.

Step 6

Add a drop shadow to the edges of the photo to make it appear to stand out from the page. Click on the photo with the "Selection Tool," then "Effect," then "Stylize" then "Drop Shadow." Also under the "Stylize" menu, you can round the corners of the photo and feather the edges.

Step 7

Convert a color photo to grayscale by clicking "Filter" in the upper toolbar, then "Colors" then "Convert to Grayscale."

Step 8

Make your photo opaque by adjusting the percentage in the box next to "Opacity" in the upper toolbar.

Tips & Warnings

  • Make sure your original photograph is saved elsewhere in your documents before editing it.
  • To go back and change previous edits on the photo, click "Window" then "Appearance." An "Appearance" palette will appear on the right-hand side of the screen. Double-click on the description of the edit you want to alter and a box will appear, enabling you to change the settings.