If you intend to use a logo/illustration on a larger screen like a poster, banner, or billboard, you have to pre-determine their resolution in the case of regular raster images. Otherwise, they start to get pixelated (get blurry) upon zooming.
However, with vector images, you can use them on any screen and scale them up/down infinitely without losing any quality whatsoever. Also, the images adjust and maintain their quality automatically even if you zoom in or zoom out multiple times.
To know more about how each one works and how you can convert a raster image into a vector format, continue reading the article below.
How to Turn Image into a Vector Image Using Illustrator?
Generally, when we are talking about images, we mean raster images. They are widely found in the formats like JPG, JPEG, PNG, etc. These images are pixel-based, and each pixel holds information about a particular color on the image. But since they are comprised of limited pixels, they start to run out of enough pixels, thus start getting pixelated.
Vector images, on the other hand, are based on mathematical formulas and are resolution-independent. So, if you want to be able to scale the image without losing its quality, you must convert it into a vector image.
Since Illustrator is a vector-based image editing application with a built-in Image Tracing feature and several built-in presets. Thus the raster conversion process becomes much easier.
Step 1: Manage Your Workspace
Before even starting the conversion process, manage your workspace to make it easier
- Open the Illustrator app.
- Click the Window menu and select Workspace > Tracing.
Step 2: Open the Raster Image
- Click File and select Open.
- Browse your PC and load the image you want to convert to vector format.
- Resize the image by dragging the corner handles and then fit it into the artboard.
If you already have a custom artboard opened in Illustrator,
- Create an artboard with your preferred size. You can do it by selecting File > New.
- Go to File > Place.
- Select the desired image and click the Place button.
- Click once or drag to place the image on the artboard. Use the selection tool (V) to move the image around.
To zoom in/zoom out, press and hold the Alt key while dragging the mouse scroll wheel.
Step 3: Use the Image Tracing Feature
The Image Tracing feature provides a list of different presets along with additional settings to convert the raster image. To see live results of the image while making changes in the Image Trace panel, enable the Preview checkbox at the bottom.
Also, use the View setting to view the Image Tracing result and Mode to switch between different modes (Color, GrayScale, Black, and White).
Likewise, adjust the Threshold slider to decide what percentage of the original image pixels will be converted to vector. Increasing the threshold makes your image denser(darker), and decreasing it results in a lighter image.
Choose a Preset
Choosing an appropriate image preset depends on your image complexity (quality, colors) and what you intend to use (logo, illustration). So, experiment with different presets and choose one that best suits the image.
If you are working with logos, illustrations, or sketches, the following presets are the most commonly used and appropriate ones.
- 3 Colors, 6 colors, 16 colors: While choosing these presets, Illustrator figures out the respective number (3,6,16) of the most significant colors to use while converting to a vector image.
- Black and White Logo: This preset mainly applies when converting a PNG logo into a vector-based one.
- Shades of Gray: It applies image tracing using white, black, and different shades of gray.
- Sketched Art: Using this preset, you can apply a sketch-like effect to a complex image.
Use Advanced Settings for Further Customization
Using one of the presets may sometimes give you the desired result on the first try. However, if it doesn’t, you can use various additional options in the Advanced section to make the image tracing more precise and accurate.
This setting lets you adjust the Paths slider to include the number of paths. Fewer paths give a simpler design, but setting it too low gives inaccurate results and a cartoonish look.
As the name suggests, it specifies the corners (in percentage) on the image. Setting it to 0 gives many rounded corners, but if you set it to 100, it provides straight lines and gives you as many sharper edges as possible.
Adjusting the noise slider decides whether small details will be ignored or included in the larger color group while tracing.
Increasing its value ignores the small details mentioned in the slider (in pixels).
For instance, if you enter 30px in the Noise slider, everything less than 30px won’t be traced.
But if you set it too high, essential details on your image can get lost. So, adjust the slider and choose a value that gives the best result.
Enabling this option ignores all the white fills in your image when converting to vector.
Snap Curves to lines
Enabling this option lets you straighten up stray pixels in the image.
Step 4: Expand the Image
Even after you finish tracing, you still need to expand it to convert it into a vector path. Otherwise, you need to use the Image trace panel each time you want to edit the image.
- Click the Object menu at the top bar.
- Select the Expand option.
Step 5: Add/Remove Anchor Points
If your image has too many anchor points, it can become pretty complex and leaves imperfections. To remove it, you can use Illustrator’s simplify option.
- Select the image.
- Then, click the Object menu and select Path > Simplify.
Step 6: Refine the Image
If you want to further refine the image, you can use Smooth and Curvature tools.
The smooth tool helps you to fix rough or sharp edges around your image. Whereas the curvature tool lets you change round corners to sharp edges by dragging the anchor points.
Step 7: Export the File
Once you have applied image tracing and refined the vectorized image, you can export it in various formats.
- Click the File menu.
- Select Save as.
- Choose a preferred format (.svg, .eps) next to the Save as type field.
- Click Save.
How to Turn Image into a Vector Image Using Photoshop?
The Photoshop application is based on pixels and is mainly intended to edit raster images. Also, it doesn’t have the image tracing feature. So, it’s difficult to vectorize even simple images.
However, you can manually create and adjust paths with a tool like Direct Selection. Then, you can export it into a vector format such as SVG.
Step 1: Import the Image
To open an image in Photoshop, select File > Open. Alternatively, you can drag and drop the image directly onto the Photoshop canvas.
Step 2: Make a Selection
For a simple image like a logo, you can consider the Select Subject (Select > S) tool. However, it sometimes fails to include necessary image parts and instead excludes unnecessary parts. In that case, you can use other tools like object selection, magic wand, lasso, etc.
Step 3: Make Work Path
After you make a selection, you can use the Make Work tool to let it generate paths and anchor points automatically.
- Right-click the selection and select Make Work Path.
- On the next prompt, enter an appropriate Tolerance value. A higher value results in a smoother path and fewer anchor points on the path. However, if you set it too high, the path may not cover all essential details. So, adjust it with minimum anchor points while still covering all the details you need.
Step 4: Use the Direct Selection Tool
After using the Make Work Path tool, you can use the Direct Selection tool to adjust individual paths or path segments. Using it, you can add new anchor points (little square boxes across the paths) and delete the unnecessary ones.
- Click the Direct Selection Tool from the toolbar or use the shortcut key; A.
- Right-click on the path and select Add Anchor Point to create new anchor points on the image.
- Likewise, select an anchor point and click Delete Anchor Point to remove it from the path. Also, use the corner handles to adjust the path.
Step 5: Apply a Solid Color Fill Layer
Now, you can apply a fill layer so that you have a new layer for the vector image. But since we usually select a single color while working, the solid fill layer gives you a better result.
- Click the Layer menu.
- Select New Fill Layer > Solid Color.
- Choose an appropriate color to fill the image.
Step 6: Export in Vector Format
- Right-click the Color Fill layer under the Layers panel and select the Export As option.
- Now, choose SVG (a vector format) next to the Format field.
- Click the Export button at the bottom.
If you don’t have programs like Photoshop or Illustrator, you can use online tools to convert your raster (jpg, jpeg, png, or other) images into a vector format. To use it,
- Open up a browser and search for “vector converter.”
- Then, upload the image and adjust various settings to perform image tracing.
- When done, download the image onto your system.
For instance, when someone says that their camera is 12 MP. It means the image it captures contains 12 million pixels, each of which holds information about a single specific color. Thus, the greater the pixels, the greater the quality of that image.