Complete Guide to Vector Tracing

Vector tracing refers to the process of vectorizing a raster image using any vector software. Vector tracing is a highly sought-after technique for embroidery companies looking for high-quality graphics to be embroidered on different surfaces. Graphic designers often use the vector tracing method to recreate raster images for better results.

For those of you who aren’t sure about the differences between raster and vector images, let’s dig a bit deeper into the two popular image formats and figure out their core differences.

Difference between vector and raster images

Raster images are made up of tiny “pixels,” which define the smallest unit of an image. The “MegaPixel” resolution of your smartphone’s camera represents the quality and dimension of the pixels. However, pixels have definite dimensions, which also becomes the major limitation for raster-based images. With a definite geometric dimension, raster-based images can’t be excessively stretched or compressed without losing the quality of the image, which is generally referred to as the “Blurring” effect. This is a major limitation since it makes it hard for the designers and embroidery industry to work with raster-based images.

That’s precisely where vector images come to the rescue.

Vector images are fundamentally created using arithmetic lines. This means that these images can be stretched and compressed virtually to any size without losing the details or quality of the image. Thereby, vector images are easier and more flexible to work with professionally. That’s why graphic designers and the embroidery industry prefers to work with vector images, as these can be resized accordingly without losing the quality.

Vector tracing Guide

Well, now that you know the basic difference between vector and raster images and why vector images are highly sought-after in the professional industry, let’s now quickly move on to see how you can perform vector tracing through software.

For starters, you will need any vector conversion software like CorelDRAW, which will help you trace the raster image and recreate the vector image. Once you are done tracing the image, you can simply export the vector file in any of the preferred vector formats like EPS to get it printed without worrying about losing the quality of the image.

That’s a pretty simple process, right?

Well, not really.

Let’s see some details involved in the process of vector tracing so that you are able to recreate vector images perfectly.

How to use vector tracing software

As mentioned above, multiple vector software can be used for vector tracing. Here in this blog, we will exclusively work with CorelDRAW Graphics Suite as the vector tracing software.

CorelDRAW is one of the most widely used vector software preferred by millions of cross-industry professionals to recreate magical vector images. The software comes with all prerequisite tools required for vector tracing. In fact, there are multiple ways you can perform vector tracing using CorelDRAW. Let’s first get started by seeing how you can perform vector tracing for a logo using the inbuilt intelligence “Vectorization” tool.

To perform vector tracing for a simple logo, you will have to open the “Raster” file in a new document. Once the image is loaded, go to Bitmaps > Outline Trace. Here, you will have multiple options to choose from, but since we are working with logos, selecting the “Logo” option would be enough.

Once you hit that “Logo” tab, it will initiate the “PowerTRACE” tool that will automatically analyze the logo file and highlight vector outlines in the form of suggestions. You will also have the “preview” for before and after comparison.

To fine-tune the level of details, including corner rounding, smoothing, and others, you can simply drag the slider on the right side of the screen. The efforts required to refine the outlines will depend on the complexity of the Logo. The tool may initially miss out on some subtle details, especially around typography, which you would have to refine. You can work around the outlines to refine them and make any adjustments required.

Click on the “Colors” tab to view the colors identified by the automated trace tool. Again, you can make any color adjustments that may be required. Again, the final quality of vector tracing will depend on your fine-tuning efforts. While simple logos may be perfectly traced automatically by the tool, you would have to adjust many finer details for a complex logo.

Once you are done with the adjustments, you can simply export the file. To export, you will need to click File > Export. Once you click “Export,” you can choose the preferred file format, including EPS, CDR, SVG, or others.

Well, congratulations, you are all ready to start vector tracing in the CorelDRAW environment. Initially, you may find it challenging to refine the details; thereby, we recommend starting your journey from simple images and gradually moving ahead with more complex images.