Open-source bitmap-to-vector converter

Hand with a quill pen

For those of you who don’t have Illustrator CS2 (or an ancient copy of Adobe Streamline), Cathi Stevenson points out that there’s an open-source program that will convert your bitmaps to vector art: Inkscape. It’s available for Linux, Windows 2000/2003/XP, and OS X (with X11 installed—this is on the Tiger disk somewhere).

I could have used this often at my last job, where I was stuck with Illustrator CS. Instead, I either e-mailed files to my personal account so I could convert them at home (if I had time) or traced them by hand (if I didn’t).

Has anybody tried Inkscape besides Cathi? I’ve downloaded it but haven’t got X11 set up yet.

Photo: Hand with a quill pen by Barbara Smith; some rights reserved.

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4 thoughts on “Open-source bitmap-to-vector converter

  1. As you’ve probably found out by now, Inkscape isn’t actually converting your bitmap image to a vector image. Instead, it encapsulates your bitmap image inside a couple of SVG tags. The actual “object” is simply a link to your original GIF/PNG/whatever file. Programs like delineate (together with autotrace and potrace), or on-line services such as VectorMagic, actually attempt to convert… with limited success.

  2. Or, maybe I’m completely mistaken on that… (Your source, Cathi, seems to have had a different experience with it. I however, have been unsuccessful in actually converting as she describes.)

  3. Hi, Kevin. I never actually tried it, since I had (and have) no clue where my OS 10.4 install disks are. Guess I should get Leopard (or whatever cat it is that we’re up to now).

  4. It’s a shame Vectormagic started charging to convert to Vector graphics – it’s a great site. All very understandable but you know for dudes with zero budget it’s too much of a turn-off. Anyway, Inkscape you can just import an image then goto “Path>Trace Bitmap Item” then when you gots what you like “Path>Break apart” an fiddle about with it. It’s pretty good and uses potrace.

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