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I'm looking for an alternative to Illustrator that I can use for the occasional auto-tracing task. My application is vectorizing hand lettering.

I want an alternative to Illustrator with this feature because I don't use it enough to pay for it monthly. ..but I'm happy to pay for it on a one-time basis.

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Inkscape is a free and open source "professional vector graphics editor for Windows, Mac OS X and Linux", and has a "Trace Bitmap" feature that should do what you need.

Inkscape tutorial: Tracing bitmaps

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protected by Community Oct 16 '17 at 11:27

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