Tracing Bitmaps Flash

Trace Bitmap is used to convert a Library image from a bitmap to a native Flash vector graphic with discrete, editable areas of color. This unlinks the image from the original in the Library (and also from the Bitmap Swatch in the Fills Panel). It is possible to create interesting bitmap-based art with this command. However, if your intention is to preserve the look of the original bitmap with maximum fidelity, you will have to work with the settings and you will most likely find that the original bitmap is less file intensive than its traced cousin. Here’s how to trace a bitmap:

  1. Use the Arrow Tool to select the bitmap that you want to trace it should be either a symbol, in Edit Symbol Mode, or on the Stage.
  2. Use Modify➪Trace Bitmap to invoke the Trace Bitmap dialog and set the options according to your needs:
    • Color Threshold: This option controls the number of colors in your traced bitmap. It limits the number of colors by averaging the colors based on the criteria chosen in Color Threshold and Minimum Area. Color Threshold compares RGB color values of adjacent pixels to the value entered. If the difference is lower than the value entered, then adjacent pixels are considered the same color. By making this computation for each pixel within the bitmap, Flash averages the colors. A lower Color Threshold delivers more colors in the final vector graphic derived from the traced bitmap.
    • Minimum Area: This value is the radius, measured in pixels, that Color Threshold uses to describe adjacent pixels when comparing pixels to determine what color to assign to the center pixel.
    • Curve Fit: This value determines how smoothly outlines are drawn Select Very Tight if the curves in the bitmap have many twists and turns. If the curves are smooth, select Very Smooth.
    • Corner Threshold: The Corner Threshold is similar to the Curve Fit, but it pertains to the corners in the bitmap image.
  3. Click OK. Flash traces the bitmap, and the original bitmap disappears. If the bitmap is complex, this may take a while. The traced bitmap does not look exactly like the original bitmap.

As shown below, the traced bitmap (right) looks quite different from the original bitmap (left). While you can change the settings in the Trace Bitmap dialog to make a traced bitmap look more like the original, it often requires a lot of work from your computer. This comparison was done with the Trace Bitmap settings at a Color Threshold of 25, Minimum Area of 10 pixels, Curve Fit of Very Smooth, and Corner Threshold of Few Corners.

The traced bitmap (right) looks quite different from the original bitmap (left).

The traced bitmap (right) looks quite different from the original bitmap (left)

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