In this handy guide, we've outlined the basics of vectorization, so that you understand the difference between vectors and pixel-based (raster) images, the mathematical work involved in converting images to vectors, and the software required to make it happen.
What is a Vectorized Image?
When we enlarge or zoom in on a raster image, we start to see pixels and artifacts, so this image style cannot be used for large-scale projects. On the other hand, vectors are composed of mathematical shapes and lines, which can be expanded (or contracted) thousands of times without running into problems. This makes vector graphics much more versatile than raster graphics.
Which Images are Suitable for Vectorization?
Not all raster images look great when converted to vectors, especially detailed photographs that feature people and animals. On the other hand, logos, cartoons, schematics, and other images that rely on geometry are ideal for vectorization, because they can be replicated easily with lines and shapes.
How are Vectors Used in the Real World?
What Software Programs Can Vectorize My Image?
Perhaps the most popular graphic editing program with vectorization features is Adobe Illustrator, which has a "Live Trace" function that can detect curves and create vectors from them. Other options include Corel PowerTRACE (which is accessible through Corel PowerDRAW) and Potrace (an open-source program).