I want to apologize ahead of time, for potentially failing to explaining the problem more accurately:

So I'm attempting to smooth/clean up a design I'm making for a greeting card on Inkscape. I started in GIMP, then realized a vector image would be best, and the trace bitmap function does a lot of what I am looking for.

Rather than explain what I think is happening, I'll just show you the before and after. This is a screenshot of the .png, zoomed in, and I essentially want the picture to remain as it is, just cleaned up by converting it to a vector

screenshot of .png file, zoomed in

What happens when I perform the trace bitmap, is that it smooths out awesome, but all the colors in the card tend to overlap each other, and show up in places they're not wanted (see how the text now has a small layer of green, and beige?)

vector image after trace bitmap

And this is just a full sized shot of the card This is the full sized image as a .png

So Basically, I need to smooth and clean things up, and avoid getting every color traced around the whole image, but stay in their perspective places.

How can I achieve this? I'm new to Inkscape, and have had no luck finding an example of this, partly because I don't even really know the terminology to explain what is happening (apologies!).

  • There are a LOT of settings in the trace tool in Inkscape. I can't tell you which ones to specifically tweak, but I bet there are options in there to tweak this.
    – DA01
    Sep 23, 2014 at 22:57

1 Answer 1


You want to first clean up the non-vector image. This can be done by indexing it in your favourite raster editing program (PS,GIMP,etc..) in Image>Mode>Indexed or something along the lines of that, then selecting the appropriate amount of colors you want and afterwards cleaning up the image manually. Afterwards the conversion will be much cleaner when converting to a vector!

  • Indexing the colors may make things jaggier--which would actually make it more difficult to trace.
    – DA01
    Sep 23, 2014 at 22:56
  • @DA01: The tracer, in effect, quantizes the colors anyway -- it's not smart enough to extract additional contour information from anti-aliasing. You can sometimes recover some of the lost detail by scaling up your image (say, by a factor of 2 or 3) before quantizing it (and perhaps using a small amount of Unsharp Mask to sharpen the edges blurred by the scaling). In any case, however, you'll most likely need to tweak some of the edge pixels by hand in your raster editor (PS / GIMP / etc.), as there will likely still be some stray pixels of intermediate colors along edges that should be sharp. Jan 22, 2015 at 15:05

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