Have you ever run into the problem of having an image of something like your logo, blurring out when you attempt to scale it up to use in something like a billboard or large sign? This is quite common in graphics designs, whether you are a graphics designer or just a client of one. This is because your image is in bitmap or raster format i.e is made up of a definite number of bits (small colored squares), and not in a vector format, so there is a limit to how much you can scale it up. The process of converting bitmaps or raster images to vector files is called Vector Tracing or Vestorization, and this is what we are discussing today.

By Wikipedia

So, with this post, ' Vector Tracing - What they are and what they are used for', I will be discussing the ramifications, importance, uses, and also the limits of Vector Tracing to you. And also, how you can take advantage of this powerful tool to increase your effectiveness and simplify your work.

So, let us dive in!

Definition of Key Concepts

Raster or Bitmap Images

TIMC_Vector Tracing

According to Tech-Ease, bitmaps or Raster images are 'images stored as a series of tiny dots called pixels. Each pixel is actually a very small square that is assigned a color, and then arranged in a pattern to form the image. So, when you zoom in on a bitmap image, you can see the individual pixels that make up that image.' Each of these tiny dots are called bits, the unit of information in computing. Therefore, a bitmap is literally a map of these bits arranged to form your image. This is why when you enlarge bitmap images large enough, you see the grainy squares, (or bits). The popular formats raster images come in are .Jpeg, .Png, .gif and there are other formats too.

Vector Files

TIMC_Vector Tracing

On the other hand, vector images use mathematical formulas to draw lines, curves and shapes that can be combined to create an image. Vector images are edited by manipulating the lines and curves that make up the image. While bitmaps are quite important in their rights, vector graphics have many advantages over bitmaps. Firstly, they are easily scalable to virtually any size without loosing the fidelity of the image. Also, vector images are generally smaller than bitmaps.  As Tech-Ease puts it 'Vector images tend to be smaller than bitmap images. That’s because a bitmap image has to store color information for each individual pixel that forms the image. A vector image just has to store the mathematical formulas that make up the image, which take up less space', making it a better format to store your files.

Vector Tracing or Vectorizaton

TIMC_Vector Tracing

Vector Tracing  or Vectorizaton is the process of bitmaps or raster images to vector files. Conversely, Rasterization is the process of converting vector graphics into raster images.

Types of tracing

TIMC_Vector Tracing

By Fivesquid

Basically, vector tracing can be done either manually by a skilled illustrator, or automatically through the use of software like Adobe Illustrator, Corel Draw and other vector based software. While these software have been improved over time to become much more effective in executing these types of tasks, to get the best for your work you may still need the input of a skilled illustrator to get your best work.

When you know you need vector tracing expert…

There are several uses of vector tracing.  This ranges from converting delicate and important raster images into vector images to enhance scalability, to actually converting bitmap or raster pictures into vectors for use as cartoons. The uses are endless, but depends largely on your needs. The basic idea is that regardless of the size of a raster image, you can always convert them to vectors, and significantly increase your degree of freedom in the usage of the image.


TIMC_Vector Tracing

Also important to note here is the situation where, you use a logo making software or general graphics applications/websites that only produce outputs in bitmap formats. You may not have any problem when using these logos for your complementary cards, flyers, letter-headed papers and so on. However, when you start considering using these logo images for large formats, then you will have to convert the bitmaps into vector files in other to get the best results.

Limits of Vector Tracing

Like all technology, there are areas where vector tracing is not suited for. For example, you cannot use vector tracing to adjust the quality or size of a photograph of a person. Except you are converting it to a cartoon or a caricature of the photograph.

Finally on Vector Tracing - What they are and what they are used for

The importance of vector tracing as a tool in graphics designs cannot be over stated. There are so many things to talk about on this interesting topic, which we will revisit later. So, you can ask any question on the subject, vector tracing - what they are and what they are used for, or any of our previous posts in the comments section below or on our contact us page. We will be more than willing to proffer the right solutions to your challenges.


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Posted in Creatives Wall, Designs, Illustration.

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