Converting a Bitmap image to a vinyl cutter image requires the use of vectoring software. A bitmap image consists of a grid-structure of square dots called pixels. Vinyl cutter images relies on mathematical lines, or vectors. Vectors are made up of lines and angles that are attached to end points, or nodes. With a pen tool and tracing tools, you can manipulate the lines, creating a vinyl cutter image that appears smooth and cuts without jagged edges.
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Things you need
- Raster Software (Photo Editing Program)
- Vector Software
- Vinyl Cutter Software
Adjust the bitmap in a photo editing program, creating the cleanest image that you can with levels, curves and contrast.
Remove any stray dots of colour by removing the background. Fill in any tiny dots that appear on what should be a solid colour.
Select "Image, Mode" from the menu. Select "Gray scale," which converts a coloured image into shades of black and white. Save the bitmap image to your hard drive.
Open your vector program. Create a new file, sizing the document to your finished size. Scale large graphics at one-half or one-quarter size for the time being. Import the bitmap image into the vector program by selecting "File, Place."
Do not resize the bitmap image. Zoom in by selecting "CTRL/CMD +" if the image is small. Select the image. Choose "Object, Trace" from the menu bar at the top of the page.
Select "Black and White" as the mode. Choose a preset tracing path or manually adjust the settings. Use "Threshold" converting lighter pixels to white, and darker pixels to black. Adjust the "Blur" setting for reducing small artefacts, or tiny distortions in the bitmap image, and for smoothing jagged pixels.
Use "Fill" for creating solid blocks in the image or "Stroke" making lines thicker in the tracing result. "Resample" the bitmap image to a lower resolution increasing the quality of the tracing.
Choose "Path fitting" adjusting the pixel difference between the original bitmap image pixels and the pixels of the traced image. Enter a lower value keeping the image true to the original. Select a higher value for smoothing jagged edges. Adjust the "Minimum area" tracing the smallest area of the image in pixels squared.
Adjust the "Corner angle" of the original bitmap for the sharpness of corners in the traced vector image. Select "View" to preview the original image and the vectored results. Create smoother lines by reducing the nodes in the tracing. Consult the "Help" file of your specific program for more information.
Select "Trace" or "OK," depending on your specific program, when you achieve your desired effect. For more information on tracing a bitmap, consult the help file of your specific program.
Select "Expand" from the Object menu, which divides the image into separate paths that are read by the vinyl cutting machine. Adjust any stray or overlapping lines with the pen tool. Save your file to your hard drive and import into your cutter software program following the manufacture's instructions.
Tips and warnings
- Always preview the traced image in the "Outline" or "Wireframe" mode, ensuring that all lines are visible to the cutter. Raster images will not appear in this mode.
- Use the "Join" feature when connecting circles or your image may not cut correctly.
- Some functions of a tracing may not be available when using a preset.
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