VectorMagic – Turning Rasters Into Vectors

Vector Magic Logo

VectorMagic is an interesting site that takes raster images and turns them into vectors. Raster images are made up of pixels. A general rule of thumb to remember is that, anything created out of pixels can not be enlarged while maintaining quality because to maintain the quality would require more pixels. However, you can downsize pixel images and maintain an acceptable level of quality because of the number of pixels available for the downsized image.

Vector based images are those that are made out of lines. Think of vector images as one large shape or a series of shapes. An example that seems to make sense to me is that, think of a square as four lines. No matter how you resize the square, the square still ends up as four connected lines. This is one of the primary advantages to using Vector based images. You can make them as big as a skyscraper and they would look the same as if they were the size of a stamp.

VectorMagice works on the basis of tracing the outermost pixels of a raster image and transforming the image into a shape. To test out this service, I am going to use Mike’s avatar that he uses on this blog.

Here is Mike’s avatar as a raster image:

Mikes Raster Based avatar

Here it is after going through VectorMagic:

Mike Vector Image

As you can see, it didn’t do a terrible job but it didn’t do a perfect one either. I don’t lay all the blame on the website though as Mike’s avatar image is somewhat complicated and at the pixel level, contains numerous artifacts that affect the outcome. As I was going through the conversion process, VectorMagic provided me with a few questions such as the number of colors in the image, the quality of the image, and whether or not it was simple or somewhat complicated. Then, it did the best it could to turn the raster image into a basic shape. I’m going to go ahead and try a few other images to see if I can get the two to look alike. Until then, if you have a simple pixel based image or logo and don’t have the Adobe Illustrator skills to turn it into a Vector image, give this site a shot.

Please report back with your findings!

7 thoughts on “VectorMagic – Turning Rasters Into Vectors

  1. I’ve been playing around with vector art recently in Adobe Illustrator. It certainly is nice to be able to scale graphics without the loss of clarity.

    I am still playing around with it on occasion to develop a logo for my site. I’ve been tackling PHP lately to develop a new plugin at the moment. After I finish that I want to explore Ajax and such.

    I’ll check out this site later on though.

    Good stuff.

  2. @James Mowery Kudos to you if you can learn Illustrator. It was a pain just to learn Photoshop. One of the most annoying things about Illustrator is the fact that, it rarely has anything to do with Photoshop in the way the tools and layers stuff works. It’s a tough program to use if your used to working with raster images like I am.

    I still have my Illustrator 11 for dummies book. Maybe I should give it a read again.

  3. I have had good results with VectorMagic. I tend not to run complicated images through it and it works well. Gradients just don’t come out well. The logos I have sent through it have all come back, while maybe not perfect, close enough that I only had to spend a little time to fix it up. It is a great tool.

  4. @LGR Yep I figured that. I think VectorMagic is good for those simple images that look like a simple shape with little in the way of colors that is easily traceable. If the raster image meets that criteria, chances are, VectorMagic will do just fine.

  5. This is fantastic! Thanks for the find. If you stick to ‘simple’ images this could be quite useful.

    Finally we can do our own comics that look dodgy unless you use some effects. This might work nicely. I’ll give it a shot on a comic tonight.

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