I'm new to illustrator and I'm trying to import my hand drawn line art to color in illustrator. When I add the jpeg to illustrator and do image trace I'm left with an outline (solid black shape behind the image) and the individual components. I'd rather not have a black outline around all my work, but I also don't want everything one solid color. I want to combine the two parts and end up with sections that can be individually colored that include coloring just that section of the outline. Is that possible?

  • 3
    Hi Allyson, and welcome to GD! It would be most helpful if you could add some screenshots and show us what you have tried and where exactly you get stuck. This saves everybody time, and makes it more likely that you will get helpful answers.
    – jmtnyn
    Commented Jun 9, 2016 at 5:02

3 Answers 3


Go to the Image Trace and to click on the down facing arrow to the right of it and select the type of trace that your are looking for, then, go ahead and Expand the artwork and it should all become regular Vector shapes, which can then be colored quite easily.

You can experiment with them if you'd like to see how they turn out. In your case, I believe the option that you need is the Line Art

enter image description here

By default, clicking on Image Trace will choose the Black and White Logo option. (I'm not sure if you can change it though)


Select the components that you want to merge together, open Window > Pathfinder, then click the Merge button.

The only time this won't work is if the shapes aren't overlapping at some point, in which case you may need to drag the anchor points around so they are overlapping, then click Merge.


Once you expand your image trace, then you can ungroup the different sections and change the fills and strokes that way. If the default preset isn't working try the other image trace presets in the advanced settings.

If it still doesn't work, you could try using the pen tool and manually trace over your artwork. This way you can manually choose what are different components by fully connecting them and then filling them in with the colors you want.

  • Hi Trin, welcome to GDSE and thanks for your answer. If you have any questions, please see the help center or ping one of us in the Graphic Design Chat once your reputation is sufficient (20). Keep contributing and enjoy the site!
    – AndrewH
    Commented Jun 9, 2016 at 16:24
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    Hi Trin, would you mind rewording your answer to exclude comments/ inquires for more information and leave just the "meat" of the answer? That would make your answer more clear, thanks
    – Luciano
    Commented Jun 10, 2016 at 7:41

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