Vector images are images created from lines and directions. They are different from raster images in that they can be enlarged very easily without pixelation, since the lines are drawn again each time the image is resized. Converting a raster (or pixel) image is tricky due to the innate differences between the two formats. You're basically going to redraw on top of the original image to recreate it in a vector format. There are several tools that can take care of the more complicated part of the procedure, but you will probably have to tweak it manually for the end result to be satisfactory.
Method 1 of 2: Use VectorMagic
Step 1. Go to a conversion website
If you don't want to download any software and just want to quickly convert raster images to vectors, you can use an auto-detect website that will create a vector image automatically. You will be able to adjust settings and even make changes before saving the new vector image.
- One of the more popular sites is VectorMagic, but you will only be offered two free conversions if you create an account. You will need to subscribe to convert more images.
- Other free sites exist, but you won't have so many options to create an acceptable vector image. If you have a large amount of conversions to do, check out the next section to learn how to use free open source software.
Step 2. Send the image file you want to convert
Vector images work best for simple images and logos with few colors. You won't get good results if you try to convert a photograph to a vector image. Sites like VectorMagic accept JPG, BMP, PNG, and.gif" />
For best results, the image should have gradients and anti-aliasing. You will be able to recognize this if you zoom in on the image and see that the edges have pixels of a lighter color to give the impression of a more rounded outline. Gradient edges help the detection program provide better results. Most digital images have gradients, but you might have problems if you try to convert pixel art to vector: the end result will have very jagged edges
Step 3. Wait while the image is processed
When you first publish the image to VectorMagic, a first analysis of the image will be performed. The procedure will take a few minutes.
Step 4. Examine the result
When it is finished, the original image will be displayed on the left and the vectorized image will be displayed on the right. You can click the button Bitmap so that the original image is overlaid on the vector image. If you are lucky, the first version will be perfect!
Step 5. Click the Manual Configuration option
VectorMagic will automatically identify the type of image and apply the one that it thinks is the best analysis process. You can override these settings by clicking on the option Manual configuration.
- You can select the type of image, which will affect the processing applied by VectorMagic. You will be asked to select the quality level of the original image, as well as the color gamut. Choose a custom color scheme to limit errors due to a color change in the original image.
- When selecting a custom palette, choose as few colors as possible for a sharper result.
Step 6. Switch to “Edit” mode
If you are using VectorMagic, you can activate "Edit" mode, which allows you to make manual changes to the segmentation, to make the vector look sharper. “Segmentation” is a procedure of dividing the image into several parts which are then smoothed and transformed into vectors. Click on the button Modify the result to open the editor.
Step 7. Use the search tool to find problem areas
Click on the button Research to identify areas of the image with which the analysis program is having difficulty. You can then manually edit these areas so that they are better processed during the analysis.
Step 8. Use the "Pixel and Fill" tool to make changes
Look for two different segments of the image that are connected by a pixel. This connection will result in a pinch effect when the image is analyzed. Use the "Pixel" tool to erase this connection pixel.
The "Color" tool allows you to select specific colors to work on with the "Pixel and Fill" tool
Step 9. Use the "Zap" tool to erase any remaining anti-aliasing
Anti-aliasing does not bother on the original raster image, but it should no longer be present when performing segmentation. The "Zap" tool will separate the crenellated part to make it a separate segment, then it will merge it with the other segments to create a solid part.
Step 10. Complete your changes and download the result
Click on the button Following to process your changes. If you like the result, you can click on the button Download the result to download the image as an SVG file. With VectorMagic, you can download your first two images for free if you create an account.
Method 2 of 2: Draw with Inkscape
Step 1. Download and install Inkscape
Inkscape is a free and open source vector editing program available on Windows, Mac, and Linux. You can download it from inkscape.org. Inkscape includes a raster image analysis tool to automatically convert your raster image to a vector image.
Step 2. Open the raster image with Inkscape
Click on File → To open and find the raster image you want to convert to a vector image. Simple images and logos will work best with this process. You will have a lot of trouble getting a satisfactory result if you try to convert a photograph automatically.
Step 3. Select the image
Once you have loaded the raster image, you will need to click on it to select it on the canvas.
Step 4. Open the plotter
Once you have selected the raster image, you can open the auto-plot tool. Click on Path → Plot Bitmap Image or press Shift + Alt + B.
Step 5. Select the plotting mode
There are three different modes available to create a single path. The "path" is the creation of your image in the form of lines. Selecting each of them will update the preview, giving you a general idea of how they work.
- These three options will help you create a basic outline which you can then edit manually.
- Use the “Threshold” options to adjust the way the scan tool works. For "Brightness Limit", a threshold of 0, 0 will be black, while a threshold of 1, 0 will be white. For "Edge detection", the threshold will be the same and will determine whether the pixel will be detected as part of the border or not.
Step 6. Select the “Colors” option if you are trying to create an identical copy of a simple image
Increase the amount of analysis to increase the amount of colors that will appear. This tool is not always precise and may not provide good results for complex images.
Step 7. Optimize the paths when you are done
If you are satisfied with the result, click OK to apply them to the image. Click on Path → Simplify or press Ctrl + L to reduce the amount of nodes. This will give you a low quality image, but the end result will be much easier to edit.
Step 8. Click the Edit Paths Via Nodes button
It can be found in the toolbox on the left of the screen. You can also press F2. This will allow you to select and move the nodes to modify the image.
Step 9. Add your own lines
You can use the tools in the toolbar on the left to create shapes and lines. Use them to retouch or replace parts of the image that were not done correctly.
- Once you have created a shape or a line, you can use the nodes to adjust the curve and shape of the object. Click on the button Convert selected object to path or press (Shift + Ctrl + C) to modify the nodes of the shapes you have created.
Step 10. Save the file
Once you are satisfied with your work, you can save it as a vector image. Click on File → Save as and choose one of the vector image formats from the drop-down menu. SVG is one of the most common vector image formats.