Could you attach image you´d like to trace? (sure, if isnot private)
What version of AI? Thanks
The feature you're looking for is "Live Trace" but Gustavo is right to ask for more details on what you are trying to do because a lot of people get themselves an image with waaaay too much detail and far too many vector points by using this one without careful consideration. There are other sometimes better ways to grab a silhouette of an image so I'm sure the advice will get more detailed when we see what you're trying to accomplish.
When I make a silhouette of an image, sometimes to create a mask, I open it in Photoshop and adjust the levels with an adjustment layer and save this image out as a copy with a name like make mask. This allow me to have better control in Illustrator live trace. I then copy the original image to a new layer in Illustrator and up date the copy with the levels adjusted mask image allowing me to place the silhouette image exactly where the original is. Then I do a live trace, expand, select the parameter vector and use this as a clipping mask. Seeing as I don't know what the image is or what the end result you're trying to archive is I'm just hoping this will help you along your way to your goal.
Forgot to mention that I am using CS4.
The intent of my project is to take a handful of turbine components and make realistic images of them, without providing to much details. Once, images are created, they will be published on customer's site, which is a web-based portal. With some of these images, I may also be modifying the existing colors, as well.
I hope this clarify things to get better assistance.
Thank you for sending us the images
You could really go to Photoshop and increase to maximum contrast, but I´ll tell that your images consist of perfect geometry. So I´d advice you to redraw it in Illustrator.
You can do it faster placing your image into project, and uses as base for redrawing. It´s sound like too much work, but it´s fast.
The fastest way is creating using standart shapens and lines, then converting all to Live Paint and using standart colors and gradients
Or...you can go normally with gemoetric forms, each one with it´s own fill and stroke
I´d go that way
Live trace is very good, but in your case, never achieve that perfect result of lines and details.
Okay, It now sounds to me like you want to use the images as reference, trace a few components and build a new piece of art that looks completely different from the reference photos but has a mechanical, turbiney feel. Maybe?
First, I have to ask if the images you posted are the exact same ones you hope to trace or did you downsample them to post them here? Hopefully they are downsampled and you have much higher resolution and cleaner images. If not, this discussion is fairly moot because i don't see how you'll get anything usable out of these.
If you have higher res files, my advice would be to use Photoshop to pull out the bits and pieces of each image that you want. It would be easier to separate the components before you use live trace. if you just want the outline or silhouette, there was some good advice posted earlier about using levels to help that along. Live Trace is "live" so you can go back and forth between photoshop and Illustrator to see the effect your photoshop edits have on the trace.
If you only have these images, Live Trace won't work miracles, and your best bet would be to use a more manual approach, like tracing each shape with the pen tool.
That's just my 2 cents
Looks we should've purchased Photo Shop instead of Illustrator. Unfortunately, that's not an option at this time, since we just received Illustrator.
The sample images I provided were images that I found somewhere off the Internet. In our case, I will need to make similar images ranging from, tiny, small, large, etc.
That's the current file format that's being used. I will have to create thumbnail types of images with the idea of substituting images, there won't be drastic image size replacement or distortion. It appears that I will create specific sizes, such as 16x35 to 164X163
Also, once I have these images, the layer & group features seemed like they may be useful. I had the trial version & didn't see how work on a desired layer or move layers around. I think ideally though, I rather just group sections of the images & be able to control them.
Go manually with standard shapes and tools like pen.