There are many ways to convert bitmap images to vector-based images. While some are programs that can be purchased and/or downloaded. Others are provided as an online image converter. Making a decision between the two types is about more than features, quality and price as the work that the user is doing and how they prefer to work are also important factors. Before discussing the differing types of programs as well as what they offer and to whom, it may be best to start with a primer on image graphics and format.
In the computer world, images are represented as pixels, which are square dots that require millions to make up an image. The process of using them is referred to as bitmap imaging or raster graphics. This is the chosen format for all photographic images that are published digitally. In the print world (primarily), images are formatted as vector graphics, which use geometrical formulas for creating the images, which in turn are made of hundreds of thousands of tiny lines and curves (or paths).
Illustrators, artists, architects, engineers and a host of other professionals are always in need of the ability to convert bitmap images to vector images a the vector format allows printing, scaling or resizing of images without loss of resolution. Since bitmap images are made of pixels, resizing is limited as sizing up beyond a certain point reveals the pixels and makes the image blurry and jagged. In computer graphics, vectorization refers to the process of converting raster graphics into vector graphics.
There are literally dozens of programs available that can accomplish vectorization as well as a number of high quality onlineconvert programs. While a number of these vector illustration programs are almost a household name, they can be quite expensive and are usually geared to the graphic artist or illustrator that uses the program as their primary tool to do their job.
Some programs convert architect, mechanical and various technical drawings, maps and other types of line artwork including black and white graphics for books and journals from raster to vector formats. This means that a paper drawing can be scanned, line artwork automatically recognized and represented in a vector format that then can be imported to a Computer Aided Design (CAD) or drawing program. Others may be especially useful for designs on fabric, textile, jacquard, carpets, mats, vinyl and other materials. There are also programs for creation of 3D models from black-and-white images using vector conversion that allow the user to make adjustments to color, texture, borders and animation settings.
While some programs are free and open source, others can range in cost from $100 to as much as a thousand dollars or more. Other online image converterprograms are available online only and charge by the conversion or via a subscription fee. The user simply uploads the image that they want converted and the online image converter renders the image and makes it available for download. Like all image vectorizer programs, they vary in quality, speed, features and cost.
Some programs combine vector, two dimensional (2D), three-dimensional (3D) and bitmap editing in one drawing package. Others can automatically paint, draw and auto-rotoscope with source image or video and render it in any style the user chooses. With some programs the files of the vector formats can be imported to popular vector graphics applications like AutoCAD, Corel Draw, Adobe Illustrator, and many others.
Architects, engineers and a host of other professions that rely on CAD to do their work rely on image vectorizer tools to complete projects every day. This may include inputting images into CAD drawings, scanning old plans, archiving drawings or even photos and converting them into useful CAD data. CAD programs can only work with vector files. There are actually a number of programs that are used by worldwide industries ranging from NASA to Microsoft.
Today, programs are being created that many speculate will supplant the pixel. However, the choice today is whether to choose a standalone program or make use of an online image converter.