How to Vector an Image

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Welcome to how to Vector a Raster image

This will show you how we can take an Image, like company logo, then convert it into an editable light weight vector that won’t suffer the same issues an attached image. Ever opened up an AutoCAD and seen a lovely message like the following?

And then see this where the company logo or other important image is supposed to be…

AutoCAD! Why?!?

Or what about if you are working in Autodesk Inventor and want to add some depth, not just a flat 2D decal?

Like So…

This can be done using tools that most design companies already have some form of access to.

  1. Section 1:

Tools/Programs Needed

To begin, we are going to need a few things.

  • Program that allows us to do the Raster to Vector action.
    • I’m using Adobe Illustrator, as it’s an industry standard that we use.
    • You can use a few different programs like Photoshop, CorelDRAW, or even a free option like Inkscape,
    • Just use your favorite Search engine, like Google, the search ‘Raster to Vector ‘ Where                 is the program name you use.
  • AutoCAD or Inventor – This is in Part 2
    • If you are taking it into Inventor, I would suggest using AutoCAD (If you have access to it) first to assist in tweaking the lines if needed as it can be a bit easier to do in AutoCAD.
  1. Section 2:

Vector to Raster – Some Background

I have mentioned this term a few times but what does it mean? Basically, most images out there are Raster, they are based on Pixels, this can give us better granularity, so more detail, but with a few trade-offs, like scaling and editability.

Where Vector is a mathematical representation of the object, in most CAD applications, this is what we use, among other things, it allows us to easily and accurately modify content but then normally this increases in complexity with more detail.

They both have pros and cons so its normally best to use the right tool for the right job, I would highly suggest researching more on this if you are interested, I’m just trying to get you up and running for now.

  1. Section 3:

Vector to Raster – Adobe Illustrator

  • First things first.

Locate a good quality image of what you want to vectorize.

The better the quality, the less headache and patching you are going to have. Try to also keep things simple, fewer colours generally work better. Break the image up into sections if you are getting stuck anywhere, You can always stitch everything back together after you vectorize the sub parts,

Notice the bottom MICRO GRAPHICS is missing off the render above?

  • Once that’s done

It’s time for Illustrator

  • Open Illustrator
  • Locate and then Open the file you want to convert.

You should see your image on the artboard.

Select the Window Tab in the Top Menu,

Then select Image Trace.

This will open a small window labeled Image Trace

Now select the Image you just opened.

Notice the Image Trace Menu became active?

I then select the Preset option and set it to Black and White logo, You may want to try some of the other presets depending on what you require, I just find this works best for what my end goal is.

Notice that this looks a bit rough? Now we can adjust it using the Threshold option. Try dragging the slider left and right, or type in the numbers in the field, until the object looks nice and smooth without losing too much detail.

Now the Hard part is done, We just have to Export the file to a format we can use. Select File in the Top Menu Bar,

Select Export

We can now choose where to save the exported file, What to name it, Then if we want, what File Type to export as. I recommend a .DXF as Most design software can export/import it. Adobe Illustrator can export directly to an AutoCAD compatible .DWG, though unless AutoCAD is all you are going to using it in, Then .DXF is a safer bet as programs like Fusion 360 (at current) Can’t import a .DWG directly.

Once you have everything set, click Export

You may get another menu offering final tweaks and setting, Just leave it on the default settings and click OK. Normally this should be fine and only needs tweaking if we experience issue when exporting.

When open the drawing in AutoCAD, You can see the geometry is in a block, You will need to either edit the block or explode it.
I recommend Exploding, as this makes life a bit easier when bringing the geometry into other programs.

After Exploding the Block, Clean the parts you don’t need by erasing them.

You should be left with the end result.

Please join me next, when I show you how we can now use this in Autodesk Inventor.

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