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Tracing Bitmaps: Turning Raster to Vector in Inkscape

July 8, 2024

Tracing Bitmaps: Turning Raster to Vector in Inkscape

Converting raster images to vector graphics is a crucial skill in graphic design, offering enhanced scalability, editability, and versatility. Inkscape, a powerful open-source vector graphics editor, provides an efficient and straightforward method for bitmap tracing. This guide will walk you through the process of tracing bitmaps and turning them into clean, scalable vector graphics using Inkscape.

Understanding Raster and Vector Graphics

Before diving into the tracing process, it's important to understand the difference between raster and vector graphics:

Why Convert Raster to Vector?

Converting raster images to vector graphics offers several advantages:

Step-by-Step Guide to Tracing Bitmaps in Inkscape

Step 1: Install Inkscape

If you haven't already, download and install Inkscape from the official website. It's available for Windows, macOS, and Linux.

Step 2: Open Your Raster Image

Launch Inkscape and open the raster image you want to trace:

  1. Go to File > Import and select your image.
  2. The image will appear on your Inkscape canvas.

Step 3: Access the Trace Bitmap Tool

To convert the raster image to a vector graphic:

  1. Select the image by clicking on it.
  2. Go to Path > Trace Bitmap. This opens the Trace Bitmap panel.

Step 4: Adjust Trace Bitmap Settings

The Trace Bitmap tool offers various options to customize the tracing process:

Step 5: Preview and Apply the Trace

  1. Adjust the settings based on your image's complexity and desired outcome.
  2. Click Update to preview the trace.
  3. Once satisfied with the preview, click OK to apply the trace.

Step 6: Review and Edit the Vector Graphic

After tracing, the vector graphic will appear on top of the original image:

  1. Move or delete the original raster image to see the vector graphic clearly.
  2. Use Inkscape's editing tools to refine the vector paths. You can adjust nodes, change colors, and add or remove elements as needed.

Step 7: Save Your Vector Graphic

Once you're happy with the traced vector graphic, save it:

  1. Go to File > Save As.
  2. Choose a vector format like SVG, EPS, or PDF.
  3. Name your file and click Save.

Tips for Successful Bitmap Tracing


Tracing bitmaps in Inkscape is a powerful way to convert raster images into scalable and editable vector graphics. By following this guide, you can harness the full potential of Inkscape's Trace Bitmap tool, enhancing your graphic design projects with clean, high-quality vector graphics. Whether you're working on logos, icons, or illustrations, Inkscape provides the tools you need to achieve professional results.