I'm trying to figure out the best way to remove the color fills from this drawing and transform the gray outlines to a B&W vector (or sharp clean edges)--think "coloring book" style.

enter image description here

It's not too hard to do if I do it the time-consuming way--redrawing by hand, basically--but I'm trying to figure out the most efficient way to proceed.

For instance, I tried completely desaturating it, then select color range for the outline part, inverse selection, delete and replace with white, and then image trace in Illustrator--but that produced poor results. That kind of relatively automatable step-by-step is the process I'm trying to achieve... I'd be grateful for any ideas!

  • For the best result you will need to draw the lines using the pen tool in whichever vector program you are in. Illustrator has the Width Tool if you want to change the width of the stroke at a specific point. I would not suggest you re-draw this by hand because you will most likely get unnatural edges when you use image trace.
    – AndrewH
    Mar 2, 2016 at 16:35
  • I'd just redraw it in Illustrator using the raster image as a guide.
    – Scott
    Mar 2, 2016 at 19:50

2 Answers 2


Make a new white layer below the image.

Magic wand tool settings: "anti-aliased; contiguous; threshold: 50%" (adjust the threshold as needed per-color to get the best result).

Select a colored area using the magic wand tool, and hold shift to keep adding new areas to the current selection. Ignore the page color for now.

With the resulting selection, make a layer mask, deselect.

Select the layer mask in the layers palette (click on it to highlight) and then invert the colors on the layer mask (ctrl+i).

Select the image (click in the image thumbnail in the layers palette), then do "select > color range", choose the paper color, and adjust the fuzziness to something appropriate, perhaps 60.

Select the layer mask thumbnail again, set the background color swatch to black, and hit delete.

You should now have, essentially, just the "drawing outline."

Make a new white layer on top of everything, ctrl+click the layer mask, and then flood-fill the selection with black. Clean this up as best as you can.

Once this is all done, flatten it, convert to greyscale, blur it slightly, and save it as TIFF.

Bring it into illustrator and then use live trace.

In the image below there are three stripes: (top to bottom) the original image; masked version after selection; the flood-filled selection. Obviously, quickly executed and not cleaned up.

enter image description here


First of all, I second AndrewH's comment from above.

Second: (if you still want to try something else) I would agree with the tools suggested by Yorik but I think you can put them to a better use and get there faster.

  • Yes, use Magic Want with anti-aliasi, contiguous at tolerance 40 or 50
  • Select the line that you want to keep, not the color you want to delete. (selecting the line will give you a better result)
  • Create a new layer and fill it with black
  • Copy/Paste the black outline in Illustrator and Trace

enter image description here

PS: The more you play around with Trace settings in Illustrator, the better it should look.

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