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This tutorial describes how to use Vector Magic Desktop Edition to produce interesting visual effects with photographs. This process is typically called vectorization or tracing. Photo vectorization is often done by hand, but this tutorial explains how you can use Vector Magic to make that process fast and easy for certain types of photographs.
This tutorial does apply to:
It does not apply to:
This tutorial uses Vector Magic Desktop Edition. You can download a trial version from the desktop application page.
The Online Edition is very similar to the Fully Automatic mode in the Desktop Edition. The user interface looks slightly different, and there's no transparency support. With those caveats in mind, you can also use the Online Edition to follow this tutorial.
In Vector Magic, we distinguish between vectorizing logos (a word we use to mean any sort of flat-shaded illustration that has been or should be vector art), and vectorizing photographs.
With logos, there is usually a correct vectorization. Typically, someone drew the logo in a vector editor originally, and the goal of vectorization is to recover that lost original. We call this "reconstructive" vectorization because the goal is to reconstruct the original vector art.
With photos, the situation is not so simple. There is no single correct answer when vectorizing a photo. What result should be given depends on what the user is looking for. We call this "inspirational" vectorization because the photograph serves as inspiration for the vector art.
Of the various types of photograph vectorization, the one I find the most compelling is the vectorization of high-contrast scenes, especially those containing silhouettes. This section will describe some tricks for getting good results when doing this type of vectorization.
Consider the following source image(shown at reduced size, full size image available here):
A neat trick is to use the "Logo with Blended Edges" mode rather than the photo mode. The photo mode uses as many colors as the algorithm deems necessary to achieve a certain approximate error. The logo mode lets you pick the number of colors to use. It can produce a neat effect to select a small number of colors in an image like this one.
Try the settings:
This results in the following vectorized result (available in SVG format here):
This result is in stark contrast to the result from the photo mode (download the SVG here):
Another interesting photo of birds in silhouette is this one of some Sandhill cranes in flight (full sized version available here):
Again, by restricting the palette, we can achieve an interesting visual result. Here, the settings are Logo with Blended Edges, Medium, 5 Fixed Colors. The SVG can be downloaded here and a preview is shown below:
This can be compared to the result when using the photo mode (SVG available here):
One interesting thing you can do with a vectorized photo is to extract only a part of the photo for inclusion in a different composition. For example, the image below shows the cranes over a plain white background. They would make a nice little graphic for a newsletter for an organization with Sandhill or Crane in the title.
It is also possible to achieve an interesting visual effect on other photographs. Consider this picture of a sunset over the clouds (full-sized version here):
When processed on the low photo mode, the result is (available in SVG here):
Or this photograph of a Rodin sculpture (full-sized version here):
When processed on the medium photo mode, the result is (available in SVG here):
Your image had transparency in it, so it has been flattened on a white background.
The Desktop Edition has full transparency support.
Your image was very large, so it has been shrunk to a reasonable size.
You can configure Pre-Crop in the Settings dialog.
The Desktop Edition does not have this limitation.
While the online editor is a very powerful tool, don't overdo it. If you need to do massive edits, it's probably better to work in a vector editor.
You can do a maximum of 1,000 edits. Further edits will be lost.
Select a color above, then use the eye-dropper on the image to change it.
Scan or drawing?
Spots between edges?
Extremely jagged edges?
Detail level Instructions
The purpose of this page is to let you manually correct segmentation mistakes made by Vector Magic. The segmentation is the crude partitioning of the image into pieces that are then smoothed to produce the final vector art.
Flip between the original bitmap, the segmentation and the vectorized result to see where there are errors.
Sometimes the finer details are not recovered automatically and you get a pinching effect in the result. The Finder can help point out some of these tricky areas - you need to edit the pixels so that the region you are interested in has a clear path.
Sometimes there are remnants of anti-aliasing left in the segmentation. The Zap tool helps you here by splitting a segment into pieces and merging these with the neighboring segments.
Try it out! You can always undo or reset your edits.
Edits made are saved to the server when you hit Next. Edits will be lost if you leave or reload this page before saving.
We're terribly sorry, but we encountered an error analyzing your image:
We're terribly sorry, but we encountered an error vectorizing your image:
We're terribly sorry, but we encountered an error fetching your image's segmentation.
This should be temporary, please try again in a few seconds.