Technology. Explained.

Internet, Utilities

How to vectorize images online

comparison between a portion of a png pixelated image (techandcheese logo) and its vectorized counterpart

If you have an image that you would like to vectorize without installing any specific tool, you are in the right place! By the end of this article you will be able to vectorize any image online, without installing any software on your computer.

Why vectorize images

To understand why someone may wish to convert an existing image to a vector format, we first need to understand how vector graphics work.

What are vector graphics?

Vector graphics, as opposed to raster graphics, encode their content based on 2D points connected by either straight lines or curves. While “classic” raster images (JPEG, PNG, GIFs, etc.) have a well defined resolution, vector images (EPS, SVG, PDF, etc.) can be zoomed in infinitely without loss of quality. The rendered quality, however, will depend on the amount of information encoded in the image itself.

See the following image from Wikipedia for a comparison between the quality of the two.

comparison of the quality difference between a raster (PNG) image and a vector (SVG) image. This is why it is convenient to vectorize images online.

The difference in behavior is due to the fact that raster images are based on bitmaps/pixel arrays, which uniquely assign a color to a finite number of points pixels. Vector images, on the other hand, are rendered smoothly no matter how much someone zooms in. This also means that vector images usually have a much smaller file size, since the information is not defined pixel by pixel.

What advantages do vector images have?

As explained above, the main advantage of vector images is that they can be zoomed in indefinitely. This is particularly nice when images need to be included in a PDF.

Additionally, since every feature of a vector image is stored as a primitive, vector graphics can be easily modified without degrading their quality.

However, keep in mind that vector images often lack detail when compared to the corresponding raster counterpart. For example, if you take a look at the following image you can see how the color transition areas get replaced with a single color (this is typical of color gradient regions in vector images).

comparison between a portion of a jpg pixelated image and its vectorized counterpart
Comparison of a raster image and its vector counterpart. Note how smooth the vector image looks when zooming in and how, at the same time, some color transition regions are replaced with a uniform color on the right.

Conversion of raster images to vector images

The conversion process from raster to vector graphics is usually referred to as image tracing or vectorization. Recreating a vector image from scratch can be very time consuming, and thankfully there are some applications that can do this for us. Fortunately, to make this process even easier, there are online tools as well to help us vectorize an existing image without installing any software.

How to vectorize an image online

There are a number of online tools that can help you vectorize an image, but one that is very well made and easy-to-use is Vector Magic.

To use Vector Magic, you only need to follow a few simple steps:

  1. Upload your image.
    To do this, you can either drag and drop an image from your computer to the website, or you can click on the Pick Image to Upload button. Once you select your image, Vector Magic will go through the process of uploading, analyzing, and vectorizing it, at which point you will be presented with a previous of the vectorized image and a few controls.
    Note that, if your image is very large, it will be shrunk to a smaller size.
  2. Play around with the settings.
    • Process as artwork: select this option if you are trying to convert a drawing or a scan. You will be presented with different palette options from which you can choose the most appropriate for your specific case.
    • Detail level: play with this option to experiment with different levels of detail. Look close to color transitions, blurred areas, and shaded areas to see how the end result changes. Remember that you can zoom in or out at anytime with the appropriate tools you can find at the top left. The more detail you wish to have, the larger the final file will be.
    • Colors: either unlimited or custom. If you clicked on Process as artwork, the number of colors will be limited depending on the palette you chose.
    • Advanced: as mentioned above, since a vector image is nothing more than a collection of primitives, you can easily edit the final results from here.
  3. Save your vectorized image.
    Once you are satisfied with the result, just click on Download Result and you’re done.

That’s it!

That’s really how simple it is to rasterize an image online.

If you have found this content useful, please share it and follow us for future updates using the Facebook and Twitter buttons below!

Leave a Reply