I'm looking for good suggestions to vectorise the following image, using one of the standard available software toolkits, e.g. Illustrator or Gimp.

The test image

I was approaching the vectorisation of this image with the idea that it should be straight-forward, given that it only consists of straight lines and fillings. Nevertheless, Illustrator's standard trace function smoothes everything and gives me curved lines and fillings. Using "Object->Create Object Mosaic" is not an alternative, as the thin lines between the squares won't be reproduced unless I set the Mosaic size to 1 pixel, which takes forever to compute. I need an exact representation of the image with a decent file size.

  • 1
    Howabout ignoring the lines and remaking them later? Remaking outlines is just 2 keystrokes.
    – joojaa
    Commented Dec 21, 2016 at 9:05
  • 6
    Is that the entire image? If so you could recreate this from scratch in less time than it took to post this question.
    – Westside
    Commented Dec 21, 2016 at 9:16
  • @Chris Now that was confusing...
    – joojaa
    Commented Dec 21, 2016 at 9:17
  • @joojaa Ha. Oh yeah. How dare somebody have the same name as me! Maybe I should change my handle to something wacky like googaa (pronounced joojaa, like GIF).
    – Westside
    Commented Dec 21, 2016 at 9:21
  • 2
    Here's how to do that with Inkscape: graphicdesign.stackexchange.com/questions/20397/…
    – Takkat
    Commented Dec 21, 2016 at 9:52

2 Answers 2


I would use Object → Create Object Mosaic, despite your claims that it will not work. Ignore the fact that it kills the gaps, just add them in after this step. Then just assign a stroke to the resulting vectors. As this will ensure that your lines will stay like they are. Sure it is one step away fishing but its very fast you can easily automate this.

  1. Create image mosaic

    enter image description here

    Image 1: Object mosaic

  2. Add stroke

    enter image description here

    Image 2: Add stroke

This is all relatively fast at under a minute per image done manually.


These are the the results from tracing using Inkscape with settings given in another answer on a similar topic, except that I took 8 scans only because there are no more colors in the source:

enter image description here
Top bitmap - Bottom vector

enter image description here
Vector scaled

  • So is this actually a fully-automated method using inkscape?
    – Chris
    Commented Dec 26, 2016 at 8:30
  • Just checked the referenced post again. I'll accept this as answer, as it's the most automated method and yields good results.
    – Chris
    Commented Dec 26, 2016 at 8:33

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