Easily Convert Bitmap Images To Clean Vector Art
Vector Magic offers a tool for converting bitmap images to vector art (also known as “tracing” and “vectorizing”).
For logos and other digital drawings, this is useful if you only have a bitmap available, but need a vector version of it in order to print it, scale it, or edit it. Vector art can be scaled to any size without any pixelation or blurriness. For photos, vectorization is more of a stylistic effect, somewhat like the rotoscoping effect in the recent movies “A Scanner Darkly” and “Waking Life.”
It is traditionally done by hand, with the artist carefully redrawing every detail, but for a couple decades now, there have been a number of attempts to produce an automatic computer tool for performing these conversions. The biggest name tools out there today are Adobe’s LiveTrace, which is built into Illustrator, and Corel’s PowerTrace, which is built into CorelDraw. Neither of them compare to the quality or ease of use of Vector Magic.
Compared to the other tools, Vector Magic is best at capturing small details, especially in anti-aliased logos and other similar images. It also makes many fewer mistakes with most images, and doesn’t look as wobbly as Adobe’s LiveTrace or as faceted as Corel’s PowerTrace. Take a look at this link to see some comparisons between VM and the other major players:
Vector Magic’s user interface is much more intuitive and slick than the other tools. It uses a simple wizard that guides you through the process, asking simple multiple choice questions about your input image and your desired output. In contrast, the other tools use confusing dialog windows with technical control knobs like “path fitting,” “minimum area,” “blur,” and “corner angle.” Not only are these unclear in their meaning and purpose, they also don’t correspond to the types of thing that the user wants to control, so the process of finding the best settings (which still might not yield a very good result) can be time-consuming and frustrating.
You can try VM out online at:
When you first come to the site they give you two free conversions. After that, you can either buy a subscription for $7.95/month or buy the desktop application for $295. They do offer educational discounts for the desktop application. If you do any serious amount of vectorization, this software is well worth the price.
Overall, Vector Magic has an easier interface and much better results than any other vectorization tool on the market. Delivering it online is also a nice way to let people try it out without having to even download any software.
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