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Sunday
Nov252007

Impressive Bitmap Vectorization with VectorMagic

I found this on Reddit last week: http://vectormagic.stanford.edu/ ... "VectorMagic - the Online Tool for Precision Visualization". Essentially it creates vector shapes from bitmaps.

The site has some great comparisons between it and other vectorization techniques. But I had to test it for myself.

 

I started with the python logo  because it's relatively simple and because it is already available in both bitmap and vector formats it allows us to compare the true, original vectors with the output from VectorMagic.

The specific bitmap I chose from from here: http://www.python.org/community/logos/python-powered-w-200x80.png

 

image  (original bitmap; cropped, but not resized)

 

To provide a better sense of how little data there is, I scaled up the image.

image

I fed the original bitmap into the VectorMagic site and it produced an SVG file that I loaded into Visio 2007.

 

image

Already I'm impressed, I can make out that things aren't perfect, but it did well at capturing the "necks" of the snakes, the eyes, and the line that separates the two bodies.

How does it stack up against the original SVG?

 

image

(Ignore discrepancies between the colors, I manually edited the colors in the original SVG to remove the gradients and replaced them with solid color fills without matching the original color exactly.)

Then I converted the VectorMagic output to semi-transparent red and the original SVG to semi-transparent blue, and overlaid the two shapes...

image

Nice! Given the limited pixel data available, this is a a pleasing result.

What about the competition?

Of course, VectorMagic is free, so let's try a tool I paid for: Adobe Illustrator CS3 and its Live Trace feature. I loaded the original bitmap and here's the best I could come up with...

 

Example 1 - Output from Adobe Illustrator 3 Live Trace

Mode = Custom ( Max color=6 ; Min area=0pix )

image

Example 2 - Output from Adobe Illustrator 3 Live Trace

Mode = Custom ( Max color=3 ; Min area=0pix )

 

image

 

Final Thoughts

  • VectorMagic produced the best vectorization output I've ever seen.
  • Although I didn't describe it in any detail,  the VectorMagic flash-based UI very easy-to-use.
  • The VectorMagic process isn't completely automated but it is very easy. Generally you'll just have to answer several questions about your bitmap and it will take care of the rest.
  • Related reading: Image Vectorization using Optimized Gradient Meshes ... could these techniques be combined in some way?

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