By Corrie Haffly

Vectorizing Graphics

By Corrie Haffly

Boston was great. It was extremely mild weather, and I got to see the Boston fireworks without overheating, camped out on the Esplanade with 500,000 other people. I was definitely museumed-out by the end, although not too much to still be impressed by some of the shadow art in one of the displays.

But I’m already digressing.

I recently tried out the Silhouette Illustrator plug-in, which takes a bitmap graphic and creates a “vectorized” version in Illustrator. It includes tools to “align” an image that wasn’t scanned in straight (pretty cool!) and tools to help you refine the shape. I used the Windows plug-in, but the Mac software has a few more features.

I found that it wasn’t very intuitive to use, so had to refer to their online help manual a lot, but was finally able to vectorize a simple scanned-in logo, and was in the end quite impressed with the software. (I have yet to challenge myself by comparing how quickly I could do it “by hand” instead of using the software. Maybe I’ll save that for a later blog.)

My upcoming article is going to most likely be a basic article about creating vector graphics in Illustrator (and Freehand, possibly), which I can then build on for future articles/blogs, and I think this software deserves a mention.

But before I do that, has anyone else seen a similar or better tool for vectorizing graphics that can be used with Illustrator or Freehand?

  • whyulil

    what about adobe stremline, however it doesnt have the align feature (i dont think so any way) Im not sure if its still in development but it is quite good and is quite automated (not sure if thats good or bad though)

  • nameless

    Cool, one question though: What in the world is “digressing”?!! I looked it up on google and they didn’t even know!!! (define:digressing)

  • Thanks for plugin link. I am very interested in vector transformations of bitmapped images, especially when not done manually :)

    Here’s an article detailing how to vectorize bitmap screenshots (an uncompressed 24-bit BMP file saved from photoshop) into a vectorized file using Flash. Resource intensive, but it does the job nicely.

  • let us all digress :) ;)
    glad you’re back corrie. hope the trip to boston was a blast.
    speaking of vector graphics, does anyone know of a good font maker…that’s possibly free?
    I’ve always wanted to make my own web-dingbats and be able to use them at any size (which would call for vectorizing).

  • jimbov

    Enhance your knowledge on tracing-vectorizing with Flash and images with embedded alpha channels.

    You will be delighted with the amount of practical information and solutions this article comes up with (i surely was delighted…)


  • dogscape

    CorelTRACE is part of the CorelDRAW suite. It can be used stand-alone, and it also integrates smoothly through the other applications. It is a wonderful raster to vector converter and has been around since the early days (corel 3 I think).

    Just open the raster & click “Trace”. It shows the raster and vector side by side. You can adjust the number of vector colors used in the conversion as well as the detail level of the trace.

    It also provides some cool options like woodcut and mosaic styles.

  • holePUNCH

    Studio Artist is a another program for converting bitmap to vector.

  • moretea

    There’s a tool called CR2V available at I used it acouple of years ago when it just a command-line tool, but it looks like they have made a lot of progress on it since.

  • tactics

    Freehand and Flash both have “trace bitmap” features built right in. No need for any add-ons. Both work a lot better than Steamline.

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