Vector Magic: Stanford's AutoTracer Bullet

The following is republished from the Design View #39.

Ah, you’ve got to love those wonderful geeks at Stanford.

Lock ’em in a room with a computer, a case of Red Bull, and two bags of Skittles, and they’ll invent Google before lunch, then go on to solve one of the most intractable problems of graphic design software in the afternoon.

Whatever you call it — Autotrace, Live Trace, PowerTRACE — the ability to convert bitmap images into vector artwork software has been around since at least Adobe
Streamline
‘s release in the early 1990s. In fact, I remember spending hours experimenting with Streamline’s many dials and sliders trying to get the perfect result back in the day.

How often have I put the practice to work? Not often.

The problem was always twofold:

Problem A. The vector artwork produced was always spectacularly chaotic, inefficient and tangled — the design equivalent of spaghetti code
and generally took much longer to clean up than it would have taken to draw the artwork from scratch.

Problem B. The algorithms used to produce the vector shapes invariably impose the same Vector Magic: Stanford's AutoTracer Bullet

on all artwork. This was fine if you were looking for a rough-cut, medieval look, but if not… well…

With Creative Suite 2, Adobe mostly eliminated the first issue. LiveTrace now does a slick job at cookie-cutting its art into a single-layered, interlocking collection of vectors.

However, it’s taken the input of the Stanford geeks to finally nail the second issue.

Vector Magic: Stanford's AutoTracer Bullet

Vector Magic is an online, Flash-powered tool designed to convert bitmaps to vectors. Operating it is a no-brainer — everything’s handled via a simple wizard.

Using Vector Magic

After uploading your GIF, PNG, or JPG, you need to answer four simple questions.

1. What type of image is your original (i.e. photo, antialiased logo or nonantialiased logo)?

Vector Magic: Stanford's AutoTracer Bullet

2. How degraded is your original?

Has your image been damaged or degraded by earlier compression?

Vector Magic: Stanford's AutoTracer Bullet

3. Does your original image employ a limited color palette?

Obviously many logos get their power from the very limited range of colors they use, while photographic images depend on a more granular approach to color in order to maintain realism.

Vector Magic: Stanford's AutoTracer Bullet

4. If so, which palette is best suited to the result you require?

The application gives you the option to either increase or reduce the color palette before processing begins.

Vector Magic: Stanford's AutoTracer Bullet

At each step, Vector Magic makes an educated guess at the correct path to take, so if you’re unsure, accepting the defaults will work for most images.

When you’re happy with the set up, click Finish, and Vector Magic works its … er … magic!

The Result

To this point, there hasn’t been a whole lot to get excited about — the interface is more workman-like than elegant — but the results are simply breathtaking.

Smart companies like Adobe, Macromedia, and Corel have spent much time and money working on the bitmap-to-vector problem, but none have really got close to the perfection of this Stanford solution.

That’s a big statement, perhaps, but I stand by it. This is spectacular work!

Take a look at some of the examples and try some experiments yourself.

Vector Magic: Stanford's AutoTracer Bullet

The impressive thing with this new process is that the Stanford guys seem to be employing some form of big picture mathematics — using an algorithm that’s able to spot the bigger, simpler vectors in the logo that are usually lost and scrambled beneath the artificial pixel grid.

Vector Magic seems to work to the theory that the simplest way of describing the largest area will most likely be the best way, too. In most cases, this is exactly how the designer was thinking when he or she created the original logo.

This means the shapes Vector Magic generates are not only flat and well-organized, but they are made up of far fewer points. The resulting vector shapes are naturally both more elegant to look at and infinitely easier to manually edit.

If that wasn’t enough, Vector Magic provides you with a suite of post-processing tools that let you edit, tune, and polish your output without leaving the browser.

When you’re satisfied with the result, you can download an EPS, SVG, or PNG version of your finished art.

Amazing work by very smart people!

And, of course, best of all, it’s free — as in “beer” and “love.”

News Flash: Scrub that bit about the ‘Free’. Unfortunately it’s now pay per image. Pricing is as follows:

  • 1 token $3.00 ($3.00/token)
  • 10 tokens $27.10 ($2.71/token)
  • 20 tokens $49.40 ($2.47/token)
  • 50 tokens $103.20 ($2.06/token)

It’s a shame, but IMHO if you looked at how long you might spend manually redrawing a logo, it’s probably still worth the outlay for all but the simplest designs.

Replay

Category: other Time: 2007-11-26 Views: 1
Tags:

Related post

  • Photoshop/Illustrator: generate vector graphic from bitmap 2010-09-13

    Possible Duplicate: Vectorization graphics approach Folks, Photoshop newbie here with what I think is a simple question, but clearly, I am not searching for the right keywords on Google. I have a hand-sketched pattern that I have scanned into a (bitm

  • Converting B&W to vector line art? 2013-11-14

    This may be a very basic question for this forum but here goes. I am beginning to create masks for sandcarving using UV film and I need to use B&W vector line art to be able to print a clear film with blacks dense enough to block the UV light during

  • Is there software that will convert a jpg to a vector format? 2010-03-25

    Is there software that will convert a jpg image to a vector image? I've got a simple logo that is being put onto baloons/pens/whatnot and the printer needs the logo in a vector format, which we don't have. --------------Solutions------------- Vector

  • conversion of bitmap to vector image 2011-05-27

    I need to convert a bitmap image (.png) into a vector in Adobe Fireworks. I selected the image using the magic wand, did modify marquee and then convert to path. However it just creates a blue color on the image. What am i missing? --------------Solu

  • 2D tower defense - A bullet to an enemy 2011-07-04

    I'm trying to find a good solution for a bullet to hit the enemy. The game is 2D tower defense, the tower is supposed to shoot a bullet and hit the enemy guaranteed. I tried this solution - http://blog.wolfire.com/2009/07/linear-algebra-for-game-deve

  • When I use a web app that converts a bitmap to a vector, is the task run locally or in the cloud? 2011-07-27

    I found an interesting online bitmap-to-vector service provider called Vector Magic Who actually did the bitmap-to-vector conversion task? My local computer/CPU or the cloud-based service? I wasn't prompted to install anything on machine. -----------

  • How do I calculate the exit vectors of colliding projectiles? 2011-08-12

    I'm trying to create projectiles which bounce/ricochet off one another when they collide in mid-air. All projectiles are spherical and have identical size, mass, and speed. Each has two vectors: one representing its current location and the other its

  • Better ways of vectorizing photos than Illustrator's Trace? 2013-01-27

    Are there any better ways of vectorizing photos than Illustrator's Trace? I don't have one of them Wacom boards so I can't really do this by hand. --------------Solutions------------- You don't have to have a tablet to create paths with the pen tool.

  • How to use an Illustrator graphic as a text bullet in InDesign? 2014-05-08

    I've created a vector image in Illustrator. I would like to import it into InDesign and use it as bullets. I googled it but they just mention pasting it on to the clipboard and they don't explain how to do that. --------------Solutions------------- Y

  • using graphics to make bullets in InDesign 2014-05-08

    I've created a vector image in Illustrator. I would like to import it into InDesign and use it as bullets. I googled it but they just mention pasting it on to the clipboard and they don't explain how to do that. --------------Solutions------------- Y

  • Simple way to shoot bullets from a ship at angles for shoot em up 2015-04-10

    Just like the title says. I'm working on a shoot em up for a personal project, and I can't seem to get this to work. I don't have any code for it, but I do have the code to make my ship shoot, but that's pretty straight forward mumbo jumbo. I have se

  • What are the benefits of using database abstraction by ORM? 2010-09-23

    I'm starting to use the ORM recommended by the framework I choose, and though I like the idea of the added layer of abstraction the ORM provides, I'm starting to realize what this really means. It means I'm no longer working with my database (mysql)

  • Capture a screenshot of a computer game at a resolution higher than the screen resolution 2009-09-09

    I work for a company that makes software to display 3d visualisations. We often grab still images from this software to use in printed media but clients often request the images be print quality and large (300dpi @ A2 or A1 sizes). We have a 30 " cin

  • How do I reduce noise in an image? 2012-05-17

    I have a map image, similar to this: At 100%, the ocean is noisy and therefore not effectively compressed to png. Please point me in a direction of an intelligent tool for the job. (I tried GIMP but failed.) --------------Solutions------------- You c

  • How can I digitize scanned sketches similar to how Preview's signature feature does? 2013-07-25

    When you use Preview's feature to use the Mac's camera to scan your signature for later insertion into documents, it does a fantastic job of digitizing your written piece so that it is rendered smoothly, I assume as vector, not raster. I need that sa

  • Workflow for print publishing children's book? 2013-08-13

    I have recently drawn and scanned a children's book that I will try to have published. I converted the scans into vectors using Vector Magic in order to have nice, clean, smooth lines without any stray pixels. These files are now .ai files. I was won

  • Illustrator: Complicated objects to single path 2014-03-06

    I have a scan of a B&W marker drawing that I vectorized using Vector Magic. Vector Magic makes my drawn lines an object with a fill color. To further process the image to meet my needs, I need to transform them into a single path (e.g. to use as a Cu

  • How do I convert a PNG to SVG, using a software? 2014-05-22

    I'd like to be able to crop SVG chemical structures, completely (see this question), that were created using MarvinSketch and I think I might have thought of a solution; I use MarvinSketch to create a large PNG file, then crop that using GIMP, and th

  • How to create consistent 3D images in Tikz 2014-07-18

    I would like to create images similar to these ones: However I would like to be able to do so in a coordinate system specific way so that I don't have to think about how the 2D projection of the image relates to the 3D image it is supposed to represe

iOS development

Android development

Python development

JAVA development

Development language

PHP development

Ruby development

search

Front-end development

Database

development tools

Open Platform

Javascript development

.NET development

cloud computing

server

Copyright (C) avrocks.com, All Rights Reserved.

processed in 0.927 (s). 13 q(s)