I would like a technique on how to take only the outline of an image. This image is of a car and would need to be accurate.

I am using Photoshop however do have Illustrator if that program is more useful.

So far I have attempted using this article: How to Trace an Image Using Photoshop

It was a great read, however my image is of a picture filled with content. The picture attached shows the car with a background. I have to find an efficient method of removing the background and taking a very precise outline of the car.

Attached is the image I am attempting to edit from, and an example of what I want to achieve (example has a little too much detail).

enter image description here

Large image size

picture for editing

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    – Vincent
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  • Could you please post a example of what you are trying to do and of the image. Sep 18, 2014 at 13:29
  • We are all very visual people; it's why we are here. As @ZachariaSamuelGrierson said, an image or two would really help.
    – Manly
    Sep 18, 2014 at 14:13
  • You would typically either use the auto-trace feature in your vector illustration tool (Illustrator) or you'd trace it by hand in Illustrator.
    – DA01
    Sep 18, 2014 at 14:55
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1 Answer 1


Most likely not the answer you want to hear.....

If you really want precision in the line art you have to do it manually. I've not seen any auto-trace feature anywhere get good, clean, precise line drawings from a color photograph.

Yes, you can try and simplify the photo, remove color, use the Find Edges filter in Photoshop, etc. But the end results are never exceptionally precise.

The best method, in my opinion, is to put in the work.

Open or place the photo into Adobe Illustrator. Once there, double-click the layer the photo is on in the Layers Panel. Tick the "Template" box. When you do this, you'll notice the "Dim Images" gets checked and set at 50%. You can decrease the opacity if you feel 50% is too much.

enter image description here

Then add a new layer above the photo, grab the Pen Tool and manually start tracing out blocks of the image....

enter image description here

When your done blocking things out, you can then turn off the visibility for the template layer with the photo on it and refine, add color or fills, etc. as needed to your paths.

This gives you control over the amount of detail you want and the precision of the final line art is entirely in your hands.

  • Also wanted to add this is actually much less work than it seems. it does not really take all that long to do a decent trace by hand if the complexity is manageable.
    – joojaa
    Sep 19, 2014 at 13:26

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