I am an archaeologist and am trying to make my field drawings straight from my photographs on my computer.

I have a photo of an objet in situ with a metered scale for reference. I would like to make a line drawing of the object on my computer, but have it be to scale with the real proportions (thus, the scale in the picture itself). Is there a way for me to do this on Illustrator? I work on a Mac.

Thanks in advance.

  • What is the object? I never do this type of work, but I think what people usually do is put the photograph as a background with some opacity, and then draw over it (similar to what you'd do if you were drawing it by hand). If it's a 3D object and dimensions/scale are important, some sort of CAD drawing might be the way to go. Oct 3 '16 at 13:05
  • @carla The issue with photos is that even if you have to perfect top down photo, zoomed in to minimize perspective distortion, you'll still have the camera lens distortion. The nerdy option would be to calibrate the camera and extract lens distortion parameters, then use that to undistort the image. I'm not sure if a feature like this is available in Photoshop/Lightroom/etc. Oct 6 '16 at 11:01

My suggestion would be to:

  1. Paste the photograph on its own layer in Illustrator.
  2. Create a new layer.
  3. Use the Pen Tool and trace over whatever you need to on the image.

You can place the photo in Illustrator, and use the Live Trace tool to create a line drawing. It should work, although I haven't seen the photo you're using.

  • 4
    I doubt that this will work.
    – joojaa
    Oct 3 '16 at 6:03
  • it can be work with "very basic" logos but possibly output will be corrupted. Oct 4 '16 at 8:38
  • @joojaa why do you doubt it will work?
    – DocPixel
    Oct 5 '16 at 1:54
  • @DocPixel Because the OP explained he needs it at a certain scale.
    – Summer
    Oct 5 '16 at 9:03
  • @JaneDoe1337, Illustrator's Live Trace tool would convert it to a vector graphic with paths, which means it will be scalable. It's like using the Pen tool, only this tool will create all the paths for him. It's capable of creating a range of path detail, from very simple to very complex.
    – DocPixel
    Oct 5 '16 at 15:34

Depends how big image we are talking about here. Illustrator is not a CAD application and is limited to 16383 pt by 16383 pt, or about 5.78 m square. Illustrator is thus a paper space program, if you want bigger scale then you need to draw in scale yourself.

Your question is a bit opaque as to what your actual problem is. But if i would have to guess your question is how to scale the image to be in 1:1 scale? In that case, if your image is smaller than the limit, just draw a line that matches your distance scale. Then double click on the line tool icon for the length of previously drawn line, copy that value. Then select the image and scale (Object → Transform → Scale) it by actual size of your scale/previously measured scale. Then lock the picture in its layer and draw above.

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