How to Hand Trace Image for Vectorization

Vectorization is the process of converting raster images to vector graphics to attain god quality across all image sizes. Generally, a low-quality bitmap-based image is taken to be converted to a high-quality graphic by tracing carefully. With the rise of e-commerce, the demand for vector graphics is also increasing.

In order to display their products in a fascinating fashion, e-commerce businesses use appealing vector images. Most professionals that provide vectorization services rely on Adobe Illustrator for such conversions.

From a visiting card to a billboard banner, these graphics can be used without any fear of losing quality. Being drawn on mathematical formulae, these graphics never pixelate. The application of vector graphics ranges from t-shirt artwork to CAD design.

Overview of Image Tracing

Image tracing refers to the process of redrawing an image. It’s an important part of raster to vector conversion. A bitmap image is a composition of pixels without any specific structure. These images are also very useful but there are some complications attached to them. When magnified or enlarged, pixels of these images become apparent and the visual start to lose quality. The edges look unclear and fuzzy.

You don’t face such issues when you use vector images. In these graphics, edges are drawn with the help of mathematical shapes which can be magnified to any extent. That’s the reason vector images have gained so much popularity in the last decade.

Types of Vector Conversion Processes

There are several methods for raster to vector conversion. Let’s cast a glance:

  • Automated Tracing with 100% Vectors
  • Manual Tracing with 100% Vectors
  • Manual Tracing with Raster Effects
  • Line Art Tracing for Color Matching

Color Blending in Vector Conversion

In case your image consists of various colors and shades, you need to select the vectorization method quite carefully. Bitmap-based images have color blends and gradients, due to which the final output of vectorization might look a little different than the base images. However, vector applications and programs have tools for blending colors for getting similar effects. It helps you get the desired effects. But it needs to be done with professional dexterity.

Why manual tracing is considered the best for vectorization

For getting the best output in image tracing, manual tracing is highly recommended. Hand tracing ensures the most accurate tracing results. As mentioned earlier, Adobe Illustrator is the best available software for it. But before sending the image to the vector program, we need to make sure that the input image is in a usable format like JPEG, PNG, BMP, etc. If the image is in some unusable format, first we need to convert it to an appropriate format.

Now, let’s take a look at the steps involved in vector conversion:

  • Open the input image in Adobe Illustrator
  • Outline all color shapes in the image with Pen Tool
  • Apply fill color, color tone, and gradient to the image
  • Delete the raw file
  • Convert the image to a vector format, such as EPS or SVG

Drawbacks of Vectorization

Though vector conversions come with a host of benefits, there are two prime drawbacks of vector conversions:

  • Vectorization is not apt for live portraits. It’s best for artificial images like cartoons, clip art, logos, maps, technical drawings, etc.
  • For precision, manual tracing is done node by node which requires great care. You can get desired effects in vector images only with professionals offering high-quality vector conversion services.

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