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Context: So I drew some logos in black pen on paper and scanned them in order to make vector images. I traced the outlines (b&w) which worked great. My original, hand drawn lines look a bit shaky though, so I decided to smooth all the lines.

Problem: Now, my issue is that Illustrator does not seem know that all the fat black lines are meant to have the same thickness, so basically the surrounding paths are not "correlated" when I make changes.

Example: If I have, say, a circle, it has an inner path and an outer path, enclosing the fat black line I drew. When I smooth both the inside and outside path of the circle, the two lines are no longer completely parallel, i.e. the fat black line gets fatter and thinner.I smooth and simplify...

In the case of a circle there are easy ways around that, but my logos have complex images of animals etc. The paths are all nice and smooth now but it just takes me ages to make sure that the fat outline that the two paths enclose has a consistent thickness everywhere.

Question: Is there a way to trace not the outline of the fat, drawn lines, but rather, the line itself? Or is there some other method I can use? I tried line art tracing, but half my lines went missing, so that was no good for me... Thanks! ... but still end up with wonky lines

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    Hi zeKirsten, Welcome to GD.SE! I think adding a screenshot of your problem will help us see the method in which you're tracing your drawing and we can then give advice on how to improve your workflow. – AndrewH Apr 21 '16 at 21:08
  • Hi @AndrewH, thanks for your reply! Here's a key I scanned and traced (Image Trace/"Black and White Logo" looked the best out of all options). I want to go for a simple graphic design/logo style with smooth, evenly fat lines... I use path simplification/the smoothing tool but that doesn't help me ensure consistent line thickness. So on the zoomed part above, I would use the smooth tool, then painstakingly move around all the anchors until it looks right... If the black line itself could be the path, rather than its outline, that would help. Tracing as "Line Art" did not work well. – zeKirsten Apr 21 '16 at 21:46
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    When tracing your drawing with the pen tool, why not trace with a stroke instead of a fill? That way you will get an even line. If you do want certain parts of the stroke and you have CS6? or CC you can use the stroke width tool to widen parts of a stroke. – AndrewH Apr 22 '16 at 0:23
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    Also depending on your style (Hand drawn vs precision), you could use shapes to help build part of your design. Instead of using the pen tool for the circles, use the Eclipse Tool (L). – AndrewH Apr 22 '16 at 0:25
  • Thanks for the ideas. I am not tracing my drawing with the pen tool. I am drawing on a piece of paper, scanning and then tracing with the trace function in the top bar in illustrator all in one go (black and white logo option). I don't have a drawing tablet, so I would need to trace my drawing with the mouse which I don't think would be very neat. Some of the drawings are also big/complex, so it would take long. I will try this, it's a good potential alternative, but I think I'd still prefer a function that can somehow link the two paths surrounding my lines to have a fixed distance... thanks! – zeKirsten Apr 22 '16 at 7:06
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Using the pen tool with a stroke is the correct solution.

You don't need to draw anything with your mouse. Just place anchor points and adjust the curves as needed. With some practice, it doesn't take very long.

Using the (P) and (ctrl+shift+C) keyboard shortcuts are helpful to save time.


Live Trace is helpful for certain tasks, but I wouldn't recommend it for logo creation. It's nowhere near as accurate as is needed.

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    OK, thanks so much to both of you, AndrewH and Paul! I get it now. I am very new to Illustrator so I had assumed that Live tracing would be easiest, but you are right, it's not. I just tried using the pen tool and this is much better. – zeKirsten Apr 22 '16 at 18:08

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