Raster to Vector Guides

Raster to Vector Conversion Solutions in Video

The internet is a trove for information. By virtue of the abundance of information you’re likely to find, it’s easy to get confused or not know where to start. Furthermore, some resources that purport to offer help don’t even provide the said help, to begin with. Sieving through such resources could, therefore, result in a lot of time-wasting.

Realizing these issues, as, we’ve thought of a solution – an article that informs you of the YouTube videos to check out if you wish to learn more about vectorization. Basically, raster to vector videos on YouTube. But before we dive in, it’s essential to understand that the vector format or vectorization is mostly used for technical drawings and graphics design.

Technical drawings include GIS maps, CAD drawings – both 2D and 3D – or even hand-drawn drawings. In our pursuit to promote inclusivity, i.e., to cater to everyone’s interests, the videos reviewed herein cut across various topics and applications. From GIS maps to 3D CAD drawings and software to image editing software (Adobe Photoshop) to graphics editing software (Adobe Illustrator and GIMP). 

Fundamentally, the article talks about videos in which users are looking for raster to vector conversion solutions. That said, let’s get straight into the raster to vector videos, shall we?

Converting Raster to Vector with Adobe Illustrator (for illustrations)

In the video, Unmesh Dinda of PiXimperfect uses two raster images – one black & white and the other colored – to show how to convert the raster image to a vector. He chose two different types of pictures for a reason – that on Adobe Illustrator, these two images have two distinct processes of converting from raster to vector.


Black and White Raster Image
Black and White Raster Image (source)

The video begins with Unmesh providing a summary of what he’ll talk about in his video, that it’s about converting an image from raster to vector. He then explains the reasons why one would want to undertake this conversion. Among the reasons Unmesh lists are:

  • That vector images don’t pixelate regardless of how much you zoom the image in,
  • That you freely make changes in the design of the image without loss of quality (and)
  • That you can even color vector images.

He then poses a challenge. Owing to the benefits of a vector image, how much better would it be if a camera could take a photograph as a vector image instead of a raster? That way, the picture would never pixelate even after being zoomed out too much.

Unmesh notes that Adobe Illustrator does a good vectorization job, but with a disclaimer. Successful vectorization is only possible with flat-colored images, i.e., images with only a single solid ink,  without any halftones or gradation. Otherwise, if you opt to use a raster image that doesn’t contain flat colors, then your vector image will be crappy – his words not mine. Based on this statement, you can’t convert an image of a human being into a vector image.

By watching the video, you’ll learn tips on using Adobe Illustrator to trace an image’s outline, clean up the image, use tools such as thresholding and corners, and, finally, convert the file into a vector image. Unmesh even goes a step further by explaining how you can color the vector image, thereby confirming one of the benefits of vectorization he had listed – that you can color a vector image.

The video ends after Unmesh gives directions on how to convert a colored raster image (shown below) into a vector image. Click the link to find out how. Again, the process is different from the one to use when converting a black and white image.

Colored Raster Image on Adobe Illustrator
Colored Raster Image on Adobe Illustrator (source)

Converting Raster to Vector with Adobe Photoshop (for illustrations)

As the title suggests, this is a raster to vector video about the Adobe Photoshop tools that enable vectorization. Unlike Unmesh’s raster to vector video, the 5-minute Adobe Photoshop video doesn’t come with a verbal narration. Instead, the steps are captioned as the video progresses.

The video begins with a black image of a bird – labeled ‘before’ – whose edges are blurry, fuzzy, and unclear. It’s on a white background. It then shows an improved image – marked ‘after’ – with a clearer and clean outline. Seemingly, the video’s creator intends to show that you can correct the lack of clarity in raster images by just converting them to raster videos.   

Black Image of a Bird with Blurry and Fuzzy Edges
Black Image of a Bird with Blurry and Fuzzy Edges (source)
Vector Image of the Bird with clear edges
Vector Image of the Bird with clear edges (source)

On Adobe Photoshop, the process begins with creating an outline. But, on this software, an outline is called a path; also, it doesn’t form the path automatically. After all, it’s Adobe Photoshop. Whenever you successfully convert an image to vector, Photoshop assigns it a denotation to show you that what you’re looking at is a vector image.

With Adobe Photoshop, you can also create custom vector shapes. You can turn whichever shape you want – even those created from a raster image – into vector shapes forming part of Photoshop’s vector shapes database. The video also shows how you can create a vector mask to use in vector-based applications such as Adobe Illustrator. Masked images are saved as EPS files.

Converting Raster to Vector with GIMP (for illustrations)

This raster to vector video, done by Logos by Nick of, will teach you how to use GNU Image Manipulation Program (GIMP) to create a vector logo (image) from a raster image. In the video, the original raster image is a colored photograph of an arm – shown below. However, the narrator first converts the image to grayscale before tracing its outline manually using a brush.

Original Colored Image of an Arm on GIMP
Original Colored Image of an Arm on GIMP (source)

Using various tools available on GIMP, the narrator creates a very aesthetically pleasing vector logo. The video and image (logo) serve as a reminder to show that logos appear best when created as vector objects instead of raster objects/images. That way, you can scale the logo to whichever size, depending on the use you want for it, without any loss of quality.

GIMP’s tools are quite extensive, much like Adobe Photoshop. However, the narrator shows the essential tools to use when creating a logo design. He then stores the image (below) as a PNG file and, once this happens, the image is saved with a transparent background and can, therefore, adopt any background color. He recommends PNG, in line with our recommendations on storing images that you intend to convert from raster to vector.

Vector Image of an Arm on GIMP
Vector Image of an Arm on GIMP (source)

Converting raster to vector with ArcGIS (for GIS Mapping)

GIS is short for a geographic information system, which is the structure that enables the capturing and analysis of geographic and spatial information. It follows that with ArcGIS, you get to work with this data. Notably, one of the tools available on ArcGIS, which forms the focus of the embedded raster to vector video, is one that enables you to change raster layers to vector layers.

The video by Terra Spatial shows how you can do this using the software. Now, GIS or surveying maps contain a variety of information, namely water bodies, barren land, agricultural land, ever-green forests, and degraded forests, etc.

To ease the reading of the map, even maps on ArcGIS, each of these regions is represented by a color. In most – if not all – cases, there’s usually a key informing map viewers what color represents which area.

With ArcGIS, you have to consider the number of groups you intend to have in your vector layer since, in the raster layer, there could be thousands of regions, each with its color. If you were to represent each color, the process would consume too much of your time. Thanks to ArcGIS tools, though, you can group the numerous regions into just a few groups.

In the raster to vector video, the narrator groups the regions on his map into 6 groups. He sets different colors with each representing a specific group. Through the subsequent steps, he’s able to change the raster layer to a vector layer. 

However, on ArcGIS, the vector format is known as ‘polygon.’ As such, don’t get confused by the fact that the narrator keeps talking about conversion to a vector layer but instead chooses ‘raster to polygon.’ Polygon is just ArcGIS parlance for the term ‘vector’.

Vector Layer on ArcGIS
Vector Layer on ArcGIS (source)

Converting raster to vector with Scan2CAD (for CATIA CAD Software)

We’ve saved the best for last, particularly if your focus is technical drawings. Most CAD software, actually all, only accept vector files. This implies that any CAD software, be it AutoCAD, CATIA, Solidworks, Autodesk Fusion 360, you name them, can only open either DWG or DXF files.

Therefore, if you happen to have an image of a plan – stored as a PNG, JPEG, PDF, or TIFF file – that you would wish to edit using one of these applications, the first process should be converting the image. This is where Scan2CAD comes in.

In the embedded raster to vector video, the narrator mentions that he’s converting the raster image to vector for CATIA. However, this doesn’t mean that Scan2CAD is only useful with images of mechanical parts. It can support electrical, architectural, site plans, contour maps, etc.

Raster Image of a Mechanical Part
Raster Image of a Mechanical Part (source)

With Scan2CAD, you can open any image, even those you download for free on the internet, just like the narrator does on this raster to vector video. Scan2CAD contains a cleaning tool that makes any image, regardless of the quality, ideal for vectorization. Cleaning the image entails thickening lines, removing speckles and holes, smoothening the lines, and thresholding

Upon cleaning the image, just click the conversion tool. Raster to vector conversion is beneficial since it deals with the pixelation problem associated with raster images. This is besides the fact that CAD software cannot work with raster file formats.

A pop-up window appears once you click the conversion tool on Scan2CAD. The narrator describes articulately what each tool on the pop-up window does. The result is a DXF/DWG file, but you have to save the file as a DXF or DWG file for you to open it on CATIA or any other CAD software. 

Importantly, with Scan2CAD, you can recalibrate the vector, thereby creating a scale. All the tools are captured clearly in the 6-minute video.

Converted Vector Image of a Mechanical Part
Converted Vector Image of a Mechanical Part (source)

Given that vector images are not just reserved for technical drawings, multiple applications support vectorization for all the existing uses, from GIS maps to CAD drawings to graphics design/illustrations. The availability of these many applications may create a situation where some users don’t understand which software to use. Through the raster to vector videos we’ve handpicked how to vectorize images using various applications, we hope everything will be clearer from now henceforth.