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Trace Tool

Step-by-Step Guide

This tutorial demonstrates the use of trace tool to produce embroidery design from a raster image .

To achieve a good quality result design, input image must be sufficiently clean. The image can be in any file format supported by Studio. The most important factor is that edges of color areas are smooth, i.e. not jagged, which may be a side-effect of enlarging the raster image.

1. Import Raster Image

Use main menu > Image > Import command to import raster image to Studio. Do not scale image to fit into the hoop, because if image is enlarged, it becomes more pixelated and the auto-tracing will not work well. It is recommended to resize the finished vector design, instead. In contrast to rasters, resizing of vectors does not affect the quality.

Trace Tool Guide - import raster image

2. Choose the Trace Style

Let's start to digitize the design. Large filled areas should be digitized first. Select the Trace tool (the magic wand icon) from the tool box at the side of the screen with secondary mouse button or long press with primary button.

Trace Tool Guide - icon of trace tool

Then select the Fill style from the trace tool style panel.

Trace Tool Guide - Outline style
Trace Tool Guide - Column style
Trace Tool Guide - Fill style
Trace Tool Guide - Sfumato style
Trace Tool Guide - Carving style

3. Switch to Trace Mode

We are going to trace the large yellow area. The main control panel at the side of the screen contains trace controls and selection options. As this is fairly simple object, set Simplicity to 10 to achieve lower number of nodes.

Each filled area with outline or neighboring area of other color should have some overlay to compensate gaps between adjanced areas of different colors and also pull effect of the fabric. However, the yellow area of Smiley is somewhat specific because of the thin black lines on the eyes and mouth. While leaving holes for main parts of eyes and mouth, we will not leave holes under all thin black lines, because it would split the yellow circle into too many regions and complicate the sewing. Moreover, overlay would completely cover the holes under the thin lines anyway. Therefore, we will leave Overlay=0 for now.

Selection is set to New . As we are going to select just one area now (yellow), it doesn't matter whether Selection is set to New or Add. Color Tolerance for selection is default 30 .

4. Select and Trace First Area

Click anywhere on the yellow area. Selection is indicated by flashing dots.

Trace Tool Guide - Selection

Click Apply button on the button bar at top of the screen to convert selected raster object into vector objects. 5 vector objects are created: main fill and 4 holes.

If Ignore Openings option is checked, program would create just the main fill. This option is useful for creation of overall filled area when small holes are not wanted or the fill is used as an overall underlay. This is not our case, so this option is unchecked.

5. New Objects in Object Inspector List

Newly traced vector objects are added to the Object Inspector list . If they contain holes, they will appear also in the Parts Inspector list .

In this case Parts Object Inspector (the one beneath the main Object Inspector ) contains list of the 5 new vector objects - one fill and 4 holes.

Trace Tool Guide - objects in inspector list

Because of reasons mentioned above, we will eliminate some holes that are too thin. Select object no. 5 (the hole under the chin) and simply delete it. The holes under eyes and mouth are more complicated because they contain both thin and thick parts. We want to preserve thick parts and erase the thin ones.

6. Select Object for Editing

Select mouth hole in Parts Object Inspector and open a pop-up menu. Select Edit from the pop-up menu to switch into editing mode.

It is necessary to use Parts Object Inspector to select mouth objects, because openings (holes) cannot be selected directly in the work area.

Trace Tool Guide - edit vector object

7. Edit Vector Objects

Delete nodes on the thin parts of the mouth to simplify the object. Select respective nodes one-by-one and delete each of them.

You can also select multiple nodes at once by holding SHIFT key depressed and dragging selection box around the nodes.

Trace Tool Guide - edit vector object

Repeat steps 6 and 7 for eyes. When finished, all three holes should contain only the thick parts and all thin parts should be deleted.

Remember, we have not used any overlay margin for the yellow fill and its holes. We can add it now so that we will shrink the hole objects with use of main menu > Transform > Offset > Expand Object . Expand command will actually shrink the holes so that the yellow fill will stick out a little under the mouth and eye areas.

Trace Tool Guide - expand vector object

8. Select Multiple Areas for Tracing

Now trace all gray and white areas on the hat. Use the trace tool as in step 2 with few changes: set Overlay to 0.3 mm (for example) and Selection options to Add .

Trace Tool Guide - Add selected area to existing selection
Add selected area to existing selection.

Then select one-by-one all three gray areas and three white areas on the hat by clicking on them.

Trace Tool Guide - multiple area selected

It doesn't matter that selected areas are of different colors because Auto Color options is set on. Therefore, each vector object will get proper color from the underlying raster.

If you happen to select wrong area, use Undo/Redo commands from the main menu > Edit or CTRL+Z/CTRL+Y shortcuts .

9. Trace Multiple Areas at Once

Use Apply button or Generate Stitches button to convert all selected objects to vector objects at once.

Trace Tool Guide - objects filled with stitches

All 6 new objects are simple objects and do not need any editing unless you want to change the stitches direction or pattern. In such a case, use the Parameters window to set new parameters to the vector objects.

Note: all 6 objects were extpanded with overlay margin. This overlay covers part of the black outline areas. It serves to embroider design without gaps between adjanced objects.

10. Choose Another Trace Style

Next step is to trace the white and red areas on eyes and mouth. We have intentionally omitted white area on eyes in step 8, because they will look better as columns than fills. Click with right mouse button on the Trace tool icon. Then select the Column style

Trace Tool Guide - Line style
Trace Tool Guide - Column style
Trace Tool Guide - Fill style
Trace Tool Guide - Sfumato style
Trace Tool Guide - Carving style

11. Trace Next Objects

Select white areas on eyes and mouth. Then select also the red area on the mouth.

Use the Add selection option all the time to add respective areas to selection. Click Generate Stitches button to create vector objects and to fill them with stitches.

Trace Tool Guide - Column objects

Notice that new objects are columns and they also have an overlay.

12. Trace All Objects of the Same Color at Once

Trace all black outlines at once.

Select Add Similar selection option to allow program select all areas of the same (similar) color at once.

Trace Tool Guide - Add similar option
Add Similar

Then click anywhere on the black outline in the work area. Click Generate Stitches button to create vector objects. As the column style was selected in step 10, new objects are all of the column style. Actually, they are fill objects with Autocolumn option set on.

Trace Tool Guide - whole design

Thin outlines expanded with overlay may need little editing on some places. In this case, few nodes in the right corner of the mouth were edited to remove intersecting edges.

13. Result of Tracing

Design is finished. Notice the difference between the the plain yellow fill and the column-style of eyes and mouth. Previously made steps allowed us to create objects with an overlay and appropriate openings (holes) where needed.

Trace Tool Guide - finished design - detail

One more thing that needs to be checked is sewing order of the objects to minimize the color changes. When making gray, white and red objects, it is possible that newly created vector objects are not sorted by color. Therefore, re-order these objects in the Object Inspector window to minimize the color changes, while leaving black outlines at the very top and yellow fill at the very bottom of the design.

As all objects in our example are separate areas, we do not need to insert connections between the objects. Trims are automatically added between all objects. In other cases, however, it might be suitable to insert connections between some objects (letters, for example) to reduce the trims.

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