Tracing 500-Year-Old Artwork in Illustrator

In this week’s free episode of Deke’s Techniques, Deke takes a legendary 500-year-old line drawing and traces it into vectorious glory in Adobe Illustrator.

He starts with an engraving of Albrecht Dürer’s intricate woodcut of what dear old Al more-or-less imagined a rhinoceros to look like from his vantage point in Germany in 1515. He based his drawing on a description and vague sketch he’d received second-or-third hand via Lisbon (where a poor beleaguered rhino specimen lived for a time with the King of Portugal).

So, since he’d never actually seen a rhino, Dürer’s interpretation is closer to what I’ve been affectionately calling the “dinocerous.” But it nevertheless did become one of the most influential nature illustrations in Western art. Here’s the engraving version that Deke starts with:

A 16th-century engraving of Dürer's Rhinoceros woodcut.

With a few precise passes of Illustrator’s auto-trace function, and a little bit of patience, Deke arrives at this fully scalable vector-based rendition:

A vector-based tracing of Dürer's Rhinocerous in Adobe Illustrator

Deke’s Techniques, bringing classic artworks into the digital age.

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