I have a profile picture which I have attatched to this post, I want to turn the most major of those white outlines into a path so I can import it into after effects and add some animated neon glow. Problem is, I am horrible at using the pen tool so manually creating a path with that isn't an option. Could I get some help?

enter image description here

  • 4
    A) There's no picture in your question and B) We're generally happy to help, but more clarity wouldn't hurt. No one is going to create an editable file for you.
    – Scott
    Commented Jul 17, 2022 at 0:48
  • The question is clear, but the resolution of these white lines i.sstatic.net/Dyh7o.png is poor and they are so dense that anything which looks acceptable for me needs so much manual fine tuning that as well you practice with the pen so that you become able to redraw the image. Do you perhaps have a high resolution version?
    – user82991
    Commented Jul 17, 2022 at 14:48
  • @user287001 - is that the OPs image they forgot to post?
    – Billy Kerr
    Commented Jul 17, 2022 at 15:22
  • Forgot??? It has been there all the time. It's a little difficult to see, but you find it easily if you see texts Maple38 1 New contributor. It's the profile image as he said.
    – user82991
    Commented Jul 17, 2022 at 15:27
  • 2
    @user287001 The OP says "I have a profile picture which I have attached to this post". It doesn't say the users profile is the picture in question. I think we need clarification here before anything can proceed.
    – Billy Kerr
    Commented Jul 17, 2022 at 15:32

1 Answer 1


The new version of your profile image has substantially higher resolution than the stamp with your profile name below the question. The Black&White mixer in Photoshop's adjustments + some contrast boost with curves helped to separate these white lines:

enter image description here

There are still holes because here and there the white was covered by about the same green and blue as the main colors of the image. To convert it to path automatically means tracing it in a vector graphics program like Illustrator or Inkscape or other.

It's generally useful to start tracing attempts from the original, because all preprocessing like converting to BW finally removes information, no matter it may look cleaner.

I pasted your colored image to Inkscape and tried to find a good treshold for tracing as single scan black and white. The result (original is closed in the objects panel):

enter image description here

The white is a hole, because Inkcape thinks white is background, but Boolean operation Path > Difference from a solid red rectangle gave the original lines as red (can be any color) areas:

enter image description here

Activating the node editing tool shows the nodes:

enter image description here

The shape is quite a complex compound path. There's no strokes, only filled areas. But absolutely it is a path as you said you want.

If it happens that you want it as single stroke paths with no filled areas I can recommend only manual tracing. Illustrator and Inkscape have centerline tracing, but they are too dumb to make it right. You'd need so much editing that you as well could trace it manually (=draw on the raster image)

In Inkscape you only click with the pen and then mostly push and pull the curve with the node tool to the wanted forms. There's very rarely a need to drag the Bezier handles, but you may need to delete an excessive node or insert or move one. In Illustrator the manual tracing process is a little trickier, but it's manageable also there.

An opinion: Trying complex path editing in Photoshop or other bitmap image editors is a form of masochism. Their tools are not made for it.

If you decide to trace it manually you may also want the drawn paths to have nicely tapering widths (=resembling brush strokes made by an artist with steady hands). Both Illustrator and Inkscape offer several tools to convert constant width strokes to tapered ones. Just to show what I mean I have inserted in Inkscape one path with a constant width stroke (=blue) and 2 red paths with path effect Power Stroke. They have adjusted taperings.

enter image description here

The variable widths as path effects (or art bushes or width tool effects in Adobe Illustrator) have a drawback: Other programs do not understand them except as expanded to paths. But then the lines are again filled areas and the idea to have simple single stroke paths is lost. Unfortunately I do not have Adobe After Effects nor couldn't use it productively if I had one. It's surely useful to check if AE understands non-uniform width strokes from Illustrator.

  • I think he wants centerline tracing.
    – joojaa
    Commented Jul 19, 2022 at 9:29
  • I have thought that wish is possible and suggested doing it manually. Automatic tools I have met are so dumb that the result needs more editing work than redrawing all paths manually on the raster image.
    – user82991
    Commented Jul 19, 2022 at 10:19

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