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Converting .jpg files to vector format.

Posted on 2002-07-10
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Last Modified: 2013-11-19
I have been asked to convert about 300 .jpg (photo) images into vectorized format.. and the final output required is similar to a painting.  I am currently using adobe streamline and then taking the vectorized format into flash as an eps file.. and then retouching ..

I know there's probably a better / faster / easier method to achieve this.  

Any ideas?

Thanks in advance.
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Question by:Wrdslngr
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9 Comments
 
LVL 23

Expert Comment

by:Zeffer
ID: 7144592
Don't know if you know this..but Flash can trace a bitmap
and convert it to vector.
you can select: color threshold,minimum area of surrounding pixels,curve fit and corner threshold.

just select a .jpg and go..Modify/Trace Bitmap
once the bitmap is traced it is no longer linked to the bitmap inmage in the library.

Z

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LVL 19

Expert Comment

by:webwoman
ID: 7144634
There isn't any easier way. There isn't any GOOD way. Bitmap and vector are completely and totally different things.

One is a building, the other is a flat stage set of a building. You can't make a that flat image into a real building without a whole lot of major construction -- and a lot of guesswork. ;-)

You have the same situtation. You have a grid of DOTS, not shapes. YOu can't easily make dots become shapes.
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LVL 30

Expert Comment

by:weed
ID: 7144730
Webwoman is right on the mark but if you absolutely have to go to vector you do have the right tool with streamline. However you WILL lose quality and youre better off editing in Illustrator than Flash.
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Expert Comment

by:OGee
ID: 7166369
first of all you can use the corel draw software there is a sub utility that call (corel trace) it can convert any type images to vector, and if you are not happy with it you can find a lot of converting tools in www.download.com, all you got to do is go there and search with the following criteria (raster to vector OR vector converter).
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Author Comment

by:Wrdslngr
ID: 7166584
Thanks.  We'll try that.
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LVL 30

Expert Comment

by:weed
ID: 7166810
I absolutely promise you there is no perfect way to convert from raster to vector. I also promise you that Streamline will do a better job than corel trace though still not ideal.
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LVL 3

Accepted Solution

by:
huafi earned 200 total points
ID: 7175466
I've never found any of the automated tools to be very useful for anything except the simplest, highest-contrst originals. Streamline works well, for instance, in taking images of vintage photos (high-contrast illustrations to begin with) and converting them to vector format. Notice all of the sample graphics used in its packaging; there's a reason for this.

Having said that, there *is* a pretty good way to convert continuous-tone photos to vector art, but it requires more effort on your part. Start with a hard-copy original (print it out if you only have electronic version). Tape it down to a desk using masking tape or drafting tape, just at the corners (for stability) Lay a sheet of translucent trace paper or vellum flat over the original, and tape it down at the corners as well. Use a pencil to trace the major contours of the photo on the vellum -- lightly at first, then more aggressively. When you're reasonably satisfied, take up the vellum and place it beside the original. Using the pencil, lightly cross-hatch the areas you want to have shaded in your final illustration. Now scan the drawing you've made on the vellum. Drop the scanned image into a background layer in Illustrator or Freehand, and trace over it again using a vector drawing tool.

This takes a bit of time and care, but the results are almost always worth it. You end up with a true illustration, in your personal style -- no matter what, two people will never trace over the same photo in quite the same way. Because you've done two rounds of intelligent filtering, selecting out only the level of detail you want, the final illustration should be geometrically much simpler (e.g., dozens of Bezier curves and points rather than thousands), making it easier to work with.

Contrary to expectations, you don't need to be an artist to do this. I'm a professional designer, so I have a head start, but I know others with little to no artistic background who have used this basic technique with good results.

Best of luck ot you --
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LVL 3

Expert Comment

by:huafi
ID: 7175496
By the way -- I realize that you're not going to do this with 300 originals at once! -- but it's a good technique to keep in mind for future reference.

Another technique that would be good for your needs (large volume, artistic effect desired) would be to find an artistic filter which you can apply to each photo in Photoshop before running the image through Streamline. What you're looking for is something that abstracts/simplifies the original, heightening contrast, and emphasizing or introducing new edges. Ideally, you want a filter that breaks up the image into roughly homogeneous color areas -- much like a mosaic or stained-glass window. This will help Streamline "find" edges in the photo which it can convert more easily and more cleanly to vector art. The end goal is to end up with vector art that's usable straight out of Streamline, with minimal or no retouching required on your part. Hopefully that will save more time than you need to invest up front in choosing and applying the artistic filter.

The particular effect you choose will depend on the "painting" look that you're looking for, but experiment with the filters in the "Filters -> Artistic" menu in Photoshop, as well as the Sumi-E filter in the "Filter -> Brush Strokes" menu.

Once you've got the effect you like (try it out on *copies* of several of your image files), save it as a Photoshop Action, then batch-apply it to *copies* of all 300 of your photos. Then run the processed photos through Streamline, and see if you're happier with those results.
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LVL 1

Author Comment

by:Wrdslngr
ID: 7175500
Since the answer we were looking for didn't exist, we were having trouble deciding which answer to accept for the points - thanks!  We just took a vote based on your submission and we're giving you the points for most creative answer.  ;-)

Thanks for trying everyone.
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