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Saving a png file as a vector pdf

Posted on 2012-03-20
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2012-03-22
I have a png logo that I want to have printed on my business cards. The business card company suggested using a vector based pdf for the best quality.

How do I convert the png to vector based pdf. Is this a option when saving the image? Something I need to do in photoshop?

Thank you!
Question by:-miss-
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LVL 31

Accepted Solution

captain earned 1000 total points
ID: 37743984
Tricky. You can recreate the vectors from the png but I doubt that will help you much.

What the printer means is that they have evaluated the artwork and the PNG is likely to be in insufficient resolution for them to confidently print to a good result. This is due to PNG being predominantly a web format and has lower resolution and likely a 'fuzzy' appearance.

Vector based files can be scaled almost indefinitely without losing their quality unlike PNG files which are lower quality from the start.

When they suggested to resupply as a vector PDF I doubt they meant converting the PNG as is,  but to replace the logo with a vector based image, e.g. replacing the PNG with an Illustrator design or original Vector from which the PNG was created in the first place.

I suspect they have assumed that there must be a vector source file as a PNG is an unlikely format to be the 1st generation original. It is most likely that the PNG was created from such vector based file as a derivative for web design or other online use.

So without looking at the PNG it is difficult to assess your options, but you can:
1) Speak to your PNG/Logo designer and ask for the source files in PDF or AI format, specify particularly that it needs to retain its vector properties
2) Ask the printer why they need the vector, e.g. is it absolutely necessary or just good practice (kudos to them for checking)
3) Post your PNG here and we can look whether you have a fighting chance to convert this to vectors using conversion methods (not possible with poorer or small source files)
4) Recreate the vector file from scratch, which means redrawing it (this may not be an option if the logo is intricate or contains custom fonts)

As said it is tricky, but post back and we take it from there.
LVL 24

Expert Comment

by:Alan Henderson
ID: 37745234
Further to the above excellent advice, your PNG file can be converted to a vector image using the tracing capabilities of programs such as Adobe Illustrator, Corel Draw or the very good free program Inkscape.

There's some advice here:
LVL 26

Expert Comment

by:David Brugge
ID: 37745677
I'm afraid that I have to take exception to the suggestion that vallis has made about using the tracing capabilities of software programs to generate vector images.
The tracing algorithms used by these programs tends to round out edges and obscure detail.
The programs work well on images that are high enough in resolution that such a loss is acceptable, or for use where a degree of loss of detail is expected. (many years ago, I picked up freelance work converting artwork into vector images that were used to etch designs into tomb stones. no one expected a design sand blasted deep into granite to have a high degree of detail)
The suggestion here is that the printer didn't find the resolution that he needed in the png. If this is the case, such an image would be a very poor candidate for using an auto-trace program.
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LVL 21

Expert Comment

ID: 37747339

Author Comment

ID: 37747796
I will upload a copy of the png here (later today), so that we can see if it will be a workable image. I'm also contacting the logo designer in case we are not and she can create the png.

Expert Comment

ID: 37750401
Please upload the logo so we can see if it can be recreated fairly easy. I recreate all logos in Illustrator so i dont run into these issues. But of course it depends on your logo.

Some people have an image as their icon instead of vector based art.
LVL 31

Expert Comment

ID: 37750406
If you have good contact to the logo designer then this is the best option, I am in agreement with D_Brugge's assessment that any conversion is usually inferior and may lose detail unless the PNG is of good enough quality.


Author Comment

ID: 37750495
Here's the logo.

I do have a good enough relationship with the designer to ask for the file in the right format, but also want to learn what to do (perhaps always just keep things in the original format?) for the future to avoid this issue.

Author Comment

ID: 37750497
Helps if I attach things properly, eh?
LVL 21

Expert Comment

ID: 37751068
I used vectormagic site 2 min time
LVL 21

Expert Comment

ID: 37751256
There is also a stand alone free software as Potrace:
After you download you need to run at command prompt the execution of the conversion.
You copy the folder with Potrace (after unzip) in C:\ for example.
Then in folder you copy your file as bmp - so you have to open first Paint program from Windows , open png file and save as bmp
Then in command prompt (Just go in Windows at Run and write Cmd) you have to find the folder where is Potrace. For example use "cd.." to go back to C:\ and then write "cd C:\potrace"
When you are in command prompt at C:\potrace then you write next command
"potrace -b pdf 3--80.bmp"
of course 3--80.bmp will be each time another file
for more help you have to read th usage on internet or read files or just type potrace -h at command prompt
I just played 15 min with this program, is not perfect but not bad.
See the result attached.
LVL 21

Expert Comment

ID: 37751363
Here is better version for you, but you have to learn.
The software is free and is specialized for vectors. It is called Inkscape.
After you download and install you can look at some tutorials even on youtube:
or just read the help:

In simple steps and words:
-      After you install and run Inkscape, just open your png file (embedded), then keep Shift pressed and with the mouse select the entire file.
-      Then you go in menu up to Path\Trace Bitmap then you choose Colors, Smooth, Stack Scans,…then Update and OK
-      Then you just go File Save As; then you choose pdf and ready.
You have to play with the parameters from that windows Trace Bitmap to obtain better results.
A very nice result is when you do it “manually” as you can see in the youtube videos (you may search more tutorials)

Attached here is the result of 3-5 min playing with the software.
LVL 26

Assisted Solution

by:David Brugge
David Brugge earned 800 total points
ID: 37753070
detail of viki2000's "better" example Any printer worth his salt would tell you that this is unacceptable quality. It is typical of what I was talking about with auto-trace software. Yes, you could go in and tweak each of the points, but to do a job good enough for reproduction would take you hours and hours.

Sometimes that is your only option. But THIS logo was made entirely of vector lettering and vector based dingbats. It is a very simple mater for the artist to provide you with an eps version, or better yet, a pdf that you can always use.

BTW. Make sure the artist sets the color mode to CMYK before it is converted to eps or pdf! That will keep everyone happy down the road.

Author Comment

ID: 37753176
Agreed, I did try the online converter, and while it did seem to take some of the pixelation out of the edges the printer still said it wouldn't work. I'm waiting for the response from the designer now, as that seems to be the only option.

Author Closing Comment

ID: 37753185
Thanks so much for all the input. I learned a lot, including the fact, that sadly, this cannot be done to satisfaction from a png.
LVL 31

Expert Comment

ID: 37753419
Thanks for the accept and to D_Brugge for the technical explanation. Print requires the correct setup and is not as forgiving as on-screen design, so there are some key prerequisites to observe even after digital publishing makes it all the more straight forward.

Please do return if you have any other question, we are happy to help

best wishes

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