Software and tools for converting raster images to vector
There are two types of digital images: rasters and vectors.
Raster graphics are bitmaps. A bitmap is a grid of individual pixels that collectively form an image. Raster graphics render images as a collection of countless tiny dots. Each dots, or pixel, is coded in a specific hue or shade. However, you can’t scale them without losing quality.
A vector image is made from circles, rectangles, lines, and curves (or freeform). They’re usually less detailed, but you can scale them as big as you like without losing its quality.
Vector-based graphics are more versatile and flexible than raster images. The most obvious advantage of vector images is that vector images are quickly and perfectly scalable. This makes vector images easy to use and are often used for logos and other design work.
Now there are software programs we can make use of to convert raster images to vector.
This is the professional way of converting raster to vector. Adobe Illustrator helps you make any bitmap image into a scalable and sharper vector format. While much of the details get stripped from the original image, it appears much sharper. The color shapes do not pixelate no matter how close the image is zoomed in. And upon zooming out, the image looks virtually the same.
This has to be done manually by tracing the images in Adobe Illustrator. The quality obtained in manual tracing is unbeatable. No software can be better than human hands to convert raster images into a scalable vector format.
For anyone who isn’t pro at Adobe Illustrator, this could be the best software they can ever get. It converts raster images such as maps or drawing, and others like logos and illustrations to vector format. It is a perfect replacement for traditional tracing, saves you time and is easier than tracing by hand or using a digitizer.
The software supports DXF, WMF, EMF, EPS, AI or SVG vector formats, all of which can be imported to popular vector graphics apps like Corel Draw, AutoCAD and Illustrator. The quality obtained is good but might not produce a perfect result as desired.
This is an open source, and obviously free, vector graphics editor tool whose features include photo or image and text editing tools, and support for most graphics formats such as SVG, PNG, WMF, PDF, among so many others.
This is a high-quality software for converting image files in different formats such as JPG, PNG, BMP, GIF or TIF, and scanned images to sharp vector image files suitable for CAD, GIS, and CNC application.
It comes in two versions, namely, Freeware, and Pro. The former, WinTopo Freeware is completely free for all to use, delivers better results than most commercial alternatives that are pretty expensive.
On the other hand, WinTopo Pro, the professional version, comes with more processing options and finer control when converting images to vector format. It includes pre-processing options which help deliver optimum results, plus an advanced vectorization engine that’s been built over years of programming, engineering and image processing expertise.
This is one of the most popular vectorizer software you can use to convert raster to vectors quickly, and get your artwork ready for print, or embroider, cutting and more processes.
This tool automatically converts images to true SVG, EPS and PDF vectors online by uploading them, without having to install software, and you get instant results. The Vector Magic automatically detects your image, analyzes and then traces out the shapes in full color, after which you can review the result. This tool is yet to reach the perfection level and some errors can always be found in the outcome. It’s good for the least important work though.
But beware of other useless online tools that claim to vectorize images but in reality, they just embed pixels without tracing them to vectors, leaving you with a blurry file when scaled.
Vectorizer converts raster images like PNG, BMP, and JPEG to scalable vector graphics or SVG without much loss in quality making them scalable and rotatable. Some examples include logos, tattoos, clipart, decals, stickers, and t-shirt designs.
Have you tried any of the above software to convert your artwork? What did you like about them?
Let us know if we are missing any great software, which you think can make to this list, in the comment section below.