VectorMagic is a web service that can convert your uploaded bitmap images into vector images and allow you to download the result into several formats (EPS, SVG, and PNG).

Vectorization is the process whereby a pixel-based image it transformed into an image that is represented by a number of geometrical shapes (such as lines, circles, and curves).

The obvious advantage to this is that vector images can be enlarged significantly without any of the pixellization and loss of fidelity that occurs with bitmap images. This makes them very practical to work with for designers/artists.

Here are some notes on this web service:

  • Quality settings: you can convert your images across low, medium, and high quality settings (the latter taking the most time to process).
  • Quality of output: is simply excellent, in my (subjective) opinion. However, these guys have published comparisons between Vectormagic and leading commercial vecotrization products (Adobe Live Trace and Corel PowerTRACE) that seem to show Vectormagic as the best product.
  • Source images: allows you to upload the following image types: JPG, GIF, PNG, BMP, TIFF. However, large images will be degraded to 1 megapixel in order not to overload the service (although it seems to be frequently overloaded/unavailable all the same).
  • Interactivity: a very low level of human input is involved to verify a handful of guesses that the service makes regarding the uploaded image (whether its a photo or a logo, etc.)
  • The user interface: is based on 2 before-and-after style panels that display both the source bitmap image and the resulting vector image side by side, and allows you to easily navigate and examine the displayed area of both images.
  • Editing: post-processing, a handful of editing options are available for quick image editing.
  • Logging in/registering: is not necessary to use the service; however if you do register you can keep track of all the images you uploaded in one place.

I used this service to do a number of image vectorizations and was impressed with both the speed at which it did its job as well as the quality of the final result in each case (the high quality output setting in particular produced a very impressive vectorization).

Having researched free bitmap-to-vector solutions a while ago, I found that the few command-line tools that are out there did not have a satisfying GUI that provided anywhere near a good user experience. VectorMagic delivers on exactly that (it is extremely easy and pleasant to use) and is certainly the free vectorization solution of choice. The downside is that since its launch VectorMagic has been suffering from server overload issues that make it unavailable for use at times (I’m keeping my fingers crossed that this might persuade them to release a desktop-based version). For a an excellent freeware program to open and edit vector image formats, check out Inkscape.

Version tested: engine version: 0.23.11029 beta (Nov 12, 2007)

Compatibility: browser based.

Go to the Vectormagic website.