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How to convert a JPEG to a vector image

Updated April 17, 2017

A number of software programs can convert a JPEG into a vector image. However, most of them are either expensive or offer a limited capacity for reproducing colours. There is a fairly simple method that uses an open-source freeware program with the capacity to handle colour images.

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  1. Download Inkscape, an open-source freeware vector imaging program (see Resources). Click "Download," then click "Run" to install the program on your computer.

  2. Select "Open Program."

  3. Select "File" from the menu bar, then "Import."

  4. Browse your folders to locate the JPEG file you wish to convert to a vector image. Select the image file and click "OK."

  5. Go to the menu bar at top and select "Path," then click on "Trace Bitmap."

  6. Select the option for "Colors" on the lower left, then increase the number of "Scans" a few times and click on the bar labelled "Update" below the preview image. Raising the number of scans increases the resolution of the image, which also increases the file size and speed of rendering. Experiment with the settings to find what works best for your purpose with your computer's capacity. Remember to click "Update" each time you change a setting.

  7. Save the image as one of the vector image formats provided. An EPS file is a good choice for most applications.

  8. Tip

    You will not need to learn very much about Inkscape to make a vector conversion. The function is mostly automatic, with a few options you can use to preview the image. If you have Adobe Illustrator CS2 or above, use the "Live Trace" function. For versions prior to CS2 use "Autotrace."

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About the Author

Artist, author, musician and researcher—the contemporary equivalent of the Renaissance Man—David A. Claerr is a professional graphic designer and a certified Adobe expert. He received his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and Bachelor of Art Education from Eastern Michigan University.

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