If you are a designer or illustrator, graphic artist or whatever, then you’ve probably had an image, a photo, a logo image, or some kind of image object that you would like to convert from a bitmap image to something a little more useful like a vector object that you can work with. I do – all the time.
Maybe you have a specific type treatment, like a logo with a font that’s been tweaked beyond recognition, and you need to use it at a variety of sizes and other scenerios that make working with a JPG or other bitmap image really difficult. What do you do?
Scan, trace, redraw, etc. You waste a lot of time reproducing the graphic is what you do. There should be an easier way, right?

There is. I found an app that does nothing but trace bitmap images, converting it to vector. The app is called Cocaopotrace (“Potrace” for Windows). It does a fantastic job tracing images. It can be adjusted to refine the way it traces; tighter paths, less points, more or less detail, and so on. I first came across it in a post by David Malki on I was so glad I checked it out!

Adobe Illustrator has it’s Live Trace/Live Paint features which does the same thing, and more, but the accuracy just isn’t there. Cocaopotrace really gets you close to a vector replica of your scanned image and since that’s all it does, it’s fast and clean and does a very nice job.

I still find myself using Live Trace on ocassion, but when I need a really clean vector outline of something, it’s Cocaopotrace all the way. Since I started using it my vector textures have been turning out much tighter. A photo of a texture, such as a cast iron manhole cover with lots of different textures, is really easy to convert and I can refine the settings to make the vector output as accurate as I choose.

Many, many years ago before global warming, the moon landing and the assembly line, back in the 90’s actually, there was an app called “Streamline”.