Converting any image into an SVG is not like a normal file conversion. You can't just save a PNG into an SVG file like when swapping between JPG and PNG. You will need to convert the raster image into a vector graphic, a process known as vectorization. To understand the conversion, let's talk about what an SVG really is.
SVG stands for Scalable Vector Graphic. Vector graphics are shapes build with vectors - anchor points and angles. Each shape has one color, shade, and transparency unless a filter is applied. This is why vector graphics are both smooth and tend to look a little less textured than the detail-fuzz created by pixels. To vectorize an image is to convert the colors and shapes in the image into shaded vector-shapes of the vector graphic. These shapes reform the image in both layered effects and independent form. Because this is such a drastic change in rendering technology, the quality of the vectorized graphic depends on the quality of the tool you use and the number of scans your take.
Why vectorized an image? For a graphic artist, there are many advantages to turning your PNG images into vector graphics. SVGs are perfectly scalable, both as individual SVG assets or exported back to bitmap graphic types like PNG and JPG.
If you are working on an SVG project, PNG assets can be added smoothly by vectorizing the image. You can also salvage low-quality PNG images or quickly grab a complex outline by vectorizing the shapes.
You may need lightweight and scalable assets for your websites and programs. Converting a PNG to an SVG will make it load faster and scale more smoothly both larger and smaller without losing detail.
The first step is to find a program capable of vectorization. There are online tools for this, but generally the quality of your output vector will depend on the quality of your tool. It's best to choose an advanced graphic design program, like CorelDRAW, that is capable of SVG editing and exporting.
Grab your PNG and upload it into your graphics program. Center your PNG in the editor and be sure the image is selected before seeking your vectorization tool.
If your PNG has a background that you don't want included, be sure to remove it. You can do this with a photo editor or with a smart select and delete tool.
Bitmap tracing is the method used by vector editing programs like CorelDRAW. Our smart tracing tool is called PowerTRACE. This will trace over every color and shade variation in your PNG, defining the vector shapes that make up the image. Find your tracing tool with the PNG selected.
Bitmap tracing can be done with a few variables. The number of scans, for example, determines the number of color-layers that are used to recreate the image. You can also choose factors like smoothing to reduce unnecessary vectors in the image.
Hit the button and watch the scans do their thing. You will find yourself with a new image made from many-layered vector objects.
If your goal was a simple vector outline shape instead of a detailed or layered vector graphic, lower the scans and grab the outermost layer, or use two or three selected layers to create a simpler vector graphic to work with.
Last but not least, export your file. Some graphic programs save directly to an SVG. If not, choose to Export your file (or a selected section of your file) and export it to a new SVG image.
With a little practice, converting PNGs to SVGs will become second nature. Be sure to experiment with tools and settings to find a vectorization that works best for you purposes and needed quality level.
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