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How To Vectorize ArtworkUpdated 8 months ago

Vector artwork is required for products like wax seals and specialty ink prints. In this guide, we will show you how to convert raster artwork into vector format using Adobe Illustrator. While you don't need to be an Illustrator expert, some basic knowledge will make this guide easier to understand. 

If you don't have Illustrator, tools like CorelDraw or Affinity Design have similar functions and this guide could be used as a reference, or you can use a free online tool like

The Steps

To get the best result, it is crucial to keep your raster artwork at its original resolution before vectorizing. We recommend working on the raster file itself instead of placing in an artboard so you can save it as a vector for later use.

  1. Open your image in Adobe Illustrator by navigating to File > Open and select the raster image you want to vectorize
  2. Select the image by clicking on it then open the Image Trace panel by navigating to Window > Image Trace
  3. Choose the "Silhouettes" preset
  4. Adjust your trace settings to get your desired results
    • A lower threshold value will reduce the amount of black area
    • More paths will create sharper details, but trade smoothness
    • Add or reduce noise to fine tune thickness
  5. Once you are happy with your results click the "Expand" button on the Image Trace panel to commit your vectorization.
  6. Finally, save your vector in your preferred format such as .ai or .svg, and now the asset is ready to be added to your design.


What is Vector artwork, and why do I need it?

Vector artwork are graphics or text that are made up of mathematical paths. Whereas raster artwork are made from a grid of pixels. This makes Vector graphics independent from resolution and they can be scaled up or down without loss of quality. This is extremely important in print and engraving applications where equipment software needs to output specific paths and functions.

How can I tell artwork is in a Vector format?

In Illustrator, when you have art selected, text in the top left will indicate whether the graphic is in raster or vector format. Raster artworks will read "Image", whereas vectors will read something like "Shape" or "Text". Alternatively, if you scroll closely into the artwork and you see pixels with varying transparencies this means that is a raster artwork.

Are there any limitations to using Adobe Illustrator to vectorize art?

Adobe Illustrator is a powerful tool and can make vectorizing most artworks simple. However, there are a few scenarios where it can have difficulties with the conversion. These difficulties are highly complex images, photos, or artwork with gradients or transparencies. If you cannot get a good result strictly from Image Trace, we recommend using the Brush tool to clean up the results.

Are there alternatives to Adobe Illustrator for vectorizing art?

Yes, you can use other tools such as CorelDraw and Inkscape, there are also free online tools such as

Do I need to be a designer to vectorize artwork in Adobe Illustrator?

No, using the Image Trace function is a fairly basic part of Adobe Illustrator and if you have worked with a similar tool should be easy to accomplish.

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