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The Online Tool for Precision Vectorization
October 29, 2007 3:19 AM   Subscribe

VectorMagic is a new site that uses technology from the Stanford University Artificial Intelligence Laboratory to transform your bitmap images into vector art that can be scaled without becoming blurry of pixelated. Here's the first image I submitted, before and after.
posted by Turtles all the way down (36 comments total) 92 users marked this as a favorite

 
Great
thank you
posted by nicolin at 3:27 AM on October 29, 2007


That stinkin' rocks (and any word in this sentence can be resized without aliasing)!

I can't tell you how often I get four crusty pixels ripped from a corporate website as an excuse for "logo artwork." Now, instead of talking to idiots, I can simply fix the problem myself without resorting to clunky zombieware like Adobe Streamline.

Thank you, Stanford.
posted by CheeseburgerBrown at 3:40 AM on October 29, 2007


But what are the pornographic applications?
posted by Justinian at 3:42 AM on October 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


Crap, there goes another income stream.

*looks at results*

Err, or not. I have a feeling I'll have work creating or rebuilding vectors for some time to come.

I've been considering testing it out with "known problem images" - those faxes some pencil-head in marketing that he insists are camera ready - but so far all the examples don't appear to be any better than Corel PowerTrace in skilled hands.

Which is to say - pretty sucky. Since a great deal of commercial vector art is originally created from simple, compounded shapes, it's generally easier (and much cleaner) for a good vector artist to think it through, identify how it breaks down and recreate it from scratch.

Even for complicated multi-path, fountain-filled designs this gets pretty easy after a while.
posted by loquacious at 3:52 AM on October 29, 2007


This function has existed in apps such as CorelDraw and Illustrator for 15 or so years; they just claim to do it better.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 5:35 AM on October 29, 2007


I wrote code to do this in 1980, as part of a paint program.
It can't work anything like perfectly, because if you see pixels arranged like so:
XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
    XXXXXXXXXXX       
        XXX
you can't tell if there should be a sharp point at the bottom, or a smooth curve across the bottom.

Anyway, this is far from new. Google 'vectorization'.
posted by hexatron at 5:44 AM on October 29, 2007


Quite amazing, It's been awhile since I've tried using some autotracer, however.

Also, Cats. (this is an awesome idea to do lolcats shirts)
posted by darkripper at 5:51 AM on October 29, 2007


unfortunately it sucks on the available copies of the metcalfe ethernet diagram. I keep meaning to find the time to get that in decent enough shape to print on a tshirt.
posted by russm at 5:55 AM on October 29, 2007


Obviously the end result needs some cleanup, but it does appear that it could remove a lot of the gruntwork from vectorizing raster images.
posted by sotonohito at 6:03 AM on October 29, 2007


This is actually quite impressive, and I say that as someone who has had to "vectorize" raster images that stupid clients supply me for various projects, ever since the "oldschool" days of Adobe Streamline, back in the early/mid 90s.

The way this handles type and illustrations (best seen in the coat of arms samples) is pretty darn impressive. No, it's not perfect, but it will get you 80 to 90% of the way there, and after manually fixing it up what it missed, I dare say that it'll be as close to perfect as you can get, short of redrawing it form scratch.
posted by melorama at 6:10 AM on October 29, 2007


Well, it's a lot more user-friendly and intuitive than the versions built in to Illustrator and Flash, but still not quite there yet. I'm not sure I see the point in bothering trying to get complex photos vectorised. This is more useful for simple bitmaps, so that's what I experimented with, getting meh results after trying to tweak.
posted by picea at 6:18 AM on October 29, 2007


This function has existed in apps such as CorelDraw and Illustrator for 15 or so years; they just claim to do it better.

I was a co-op student at Corel back in, uh, 1990 when they implemented their first version of this. So 17 years. Plus they implemented a generic vector shape clipping package - it could clip one aribtrary polygon to any other arbitrary polygon.

And they did it all on 66 Mhz 386's. Uphill both ways.
posted by GuyZero at 6:20 AM on October 29, 2007 [2 favorites]


I love it! It'll save my ass from pixel-logos countless times in the future!
posted by dabitch at 6:28 AM on October 29, 2007


And they did it all on 66 Mhz 386's. Uphill both ways.

That would be pretty damn fast for a 386. The first Pentium chips were 60mhz. :)
posted by delmoi at 6:32 AM on October 29, 2007


It's so funny to see all the "meh" in this thread. I'm not a graphics person and I went and looked at the "before and after link" and was like "holy SHIT that's cool"! It's all about context I guess.
posted by The Bellman at 6:45 AM on October 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I'm not really impressed either. You do lose a lot of details that are present (but ugly) in the bitmaps. It just (to me) looks like the output of some of photoshop's built in raster filters, but with output as vectors rather then another bitmap.

What's really needed for this to work is object recognition. When I see this image I can imagine what the image ought to look like at a higher resolution, because I know what it's an image of.
posted by delmoi at 6:59 AM on October 29, 2007


The before and after samples rocked me too, but after lots of tries I can't get close to similar results for my desired image. I like the 'wizardy' process, though - it makes me believe I'll get it next pass, surely. Unlike Illustrator, which just sits there, mocking me.
posted by cairnish at 7:02 AM on October 29, 2007


Yeah, it's got nothing on potrace except a silly interface. Command line or bust!
posted by prostyle at 7:06 AM on October 29, 2007


That would be pretty damn fast for a 386.

Ugh. Fine. FINE.

486DX2's. Sheesh. 33 MHz bus speed, 66 MHz internal clock.

You knew what I meant.

It's so funny to see all the "meh" in this thread

The technology is pretty cool, but I find it a bit sad that they're not more forthright about prior art.
posted by GuyZero at 7:13 AM on October 29, 2007


Well, certainly it won't replace graphic designers any point in the near future, and the technology has been around for a while, but it's a handy thing for those clients of mine who show up wanting to print out 72dpi charts.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 7:17 AM on October 29, 2007


Also, what's up with the BC Lions shout-out? Rare to see CFL lovers out there.
posted by GuyZero at 7:20 AM on October 29, 2007


What makes it impressive is that it's a fully implemented vectorization application wrapped in a Flash file of reasonable size. What used to require my desktop computer's full attention is now running as a subprocess of my web browser in a backgrounded tab while I check my mail and get real work done.

Also, I get to use this for free rather than pay Adobe some $500 for a limited-use application. (On the whole, I preferred Freehand's implementation, but nobody remembers that any more.)

Whether the vectorization methodology is any better than what's been around before... handwave.
posted by ardgedee at 7:21 AM on October 29, 2007 [2 favorites]


Great. Now, instead of crappy-looking raster logos (lifted fro the company website) from clients, I'll be getting crappy-looking vector logos (created from art lifted from the company website) from clients.

Note to any and all marketing "pros" out there...This does not absolve you from supplying the original, vector logo art for your "mission critical" booklet job.

Fair warning.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:22 AM on October 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


they're not more forthright about prior art.

OK, before anyone kicks my ass, they have a comparison with the Adobe & the Corel tracers. The rotational invariance demo is compelling. But I stand by the fact that it's not all that new.
posted by GuyZero at 7:22 AM on October 29, 2007


This is pretty damn cool to somebody who's never seen a tool like this before. I may be playing with this for a while. :)
posted by Foosnark at 7:37 AM on October 29, 2007


small logos don't work very well.
posted by darkripper at 7:50 AM on October 29, 2007


small logos don't work very well

Though the teenage sci-fi boy I used to be loves what it's done to 'community weblog'. It's written by an alien! Possibly a kick-ass one!
posted by thoughtless at 7:58 AM on October 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


small logos don't work very well.

Are you kidding? That's awesome, and I hereby move that this new logo be adopted immediately!
posted by pardonyou? at 8:09 AM on October 29, 2007 [2 favorites]


So, to summarize:

- to people that find this old hat, this is old hat
- to everybody else, this is pretty damned cool
- communication between the two camps consists of "no u"
posted by cortex at 8:47 AM on October 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


no u
posted by GuyZero at 9:11 AM on October 29, 2007


the metafilter logo was awesome.
posted by garlic at 9:16 AM on October 29, 2007



So, to summarize:

- to people that find this old hat, this is old hat
- to everybody else, this is pretty damned cool
- communication between the two camps consists of "no u"


film at eleven.
posted by darkripper at 9:27 AM on October 29, 2007


I have pasted this before, but when I client sends me a tiny bitmap as a logo I usually just do a search on this vector logo site and see if someone has vectored it already for me. This Stanford site is going to be helpful when the search comes up dry.
posted by Pink Fuzzy Bunny at 10:18 AM on October 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


Password protected, PFB. Got info on how to get an account?
posted by ardgedee at 10:33 AM on October 29, 2007


Looking at the comparisons, I say it's doing a much better job than Corel and Adobe.

It appears to be better at "guessing" what the original intent was: it's identifying swooping curves and pointy-bits better than the competition.

Of course, we're only seeing the comparisons where its guesses outperform the competition. I question whether there are areas where it makes the wrong assumptions, ie. not everything is a smooth curve with a pointy end.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:57 PM on October 29, 2007


PFB: Wow, nice site.

RDG: It didn't ask me for a password.
posted by Pronoiac at 10:25 AM on October 30, 2007


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