Hacker News new | comments | show | ask | jobs | submit login
Vector Magic - Convert bitmap to vector (vectormagic.com)
46 points by ctingom on July 7, 2009 | hide | past | web | favorite | 25 comments

Looks really nice. I don't understand why you need to have a monthly subscription for this, who wants to trace bitmaps every month!? A system where you get, say, 30 conversions for $10, or a license for a single day for $10 seems like a much more interesting deal.

This is the kind of service I would pay for in a heartbeat, because tracing manually is a major pain. But a subscription? No way.

The bottom of the pricing page (https://vectormagic.com/pricing) mentions that you can purchase "tokens", where 1 token == 1 image. You need to sign up for an account to view a token pricing list, which is annoying, but fortunately that's as easy as providing them with an email address -- there isn't even an email verification hoop to jump through.

5 tokens is $14.05 ($2.81/image), 10 tokens is $26.65 ($2.67/image), and 20 tokens is $48.60 ($2.43/image).

I agree.

Also, the execution is really slick, not only in the app, but also in the actual landing page. It took me longer to choose an image than it did for me to figure out what to do. You must have an amazing UI designer.

I used to print t-shirts for a living. This site made the t-shirt forum rounds a while back as a time-saving way to convert art into screen-printable art. So to answer your question, the apparel decoration industry is a huge consumer of graphical applications that manipulate art into formats that can be output to a shirt for example. Considering a good shop does hundreds if not thousands of orders a month, subscription based auto-formatting is a pretty good deal.

Also, there are freelancers and companies that manually create vector art from any supplied format. So these guys can use this as a streamlining/base-lining tool as well.

Oh, I find it really easy to imagine people who could use that. My first reaction is that $8/mo. is a bit pricey but it's actually a really good deal for someone who can't afford/justify the $300, while keeping them engaged rather than driving them away.

The 'no signup' to try is also great.

I worked at a company that often times needed to upscale out of the loop people's logos to then feed to embroidery machines for custom products. So many people in the golf industry have no idea what sizing and quality standards are for logo work that half the time I received logos that were copied and pasted from a website...

So needless to say, we had a monthly subscription to Vectormagic while I worked there...

I do a fair bit of Illustrator work, but the vector autotracing stuff always feels like cheating, so I never use it. I'd be unlikely to use this.

Having said that, I love what this says about the software industry. That you can do a tool like this as a web service, charge for it, and use the web as a vector to take on a massively entrenched competitor --- a great sign. There must be thousands of businesses just like this, waiting to be started.

The last couple of versions of Illustrator have finally been allowed to use the tech from Adobe Streamline (the legal requirement that it remain a separate product expired), and are substantially better than they were before.

Lots of design shops reportedly kept running old hardware w/ Mac OS 9 as dedicated Streamline machines for years.

Try Illustrator’s tracing out sometime. It’s pretty useful/fun.

How does the code in new Illustrator versions compare with Vector Magic?

Ever the skeptic, I uploaded one of the Windows sample images (Water lilies.jpg) and it spit out... a pretty damn amazing representation of the image. Hats off to the creators, if this project fails it most certainly isn't a quality issue.

Is this any better than POTrace(http://potrace.sourceforge.net/)?

According to the site you linked:

    Vector Magic: A commercial tracing tool that
    is available through a web interface, for a
    fee. Unlike Potrace, Vector Magic works for
    color images.
So, I guess the benefits are:

    * It works in color
    * You get to pay for it, so you know it's Serious Business.

It would be easy enough to use ImageMagick to quantize the image to a limited color palette, create individual images for each color, trace them using POTrace, and then combine them back together. That's not to say that there wouldn't be an infinite amount of tweaking, but I've basically implemented this before.

Inkscape does just that. It allows you to run multiple scans with potrace, which gives you a separate path for each colour. Couldn't be more simple.

Just for fun, I tried it with the examples from the comparison on the website, but even with a lot of tweaking I didn't manage to get an image as sharp as they claim to get. I don't think Vector Magic uses potrace ;)

Adobe Illustrator does this too...but not as well.

I won a copy of this at a recent industry event biz card drawing, but am mostly working with code these days. If you want my copy (legal), get in touch. -larry rubin

I would love this. (And I actually have a use for it.) Post your email addy in your profile or check my profile and email me.

Works well. Better than Illustrator's trace feature, at least for the subject I was using. You only get 2 conversions before you have to pay, though.

It's a pretty slick service - the best part is that it's very user-friendly, which means you get very nice results without reading a bunch of arcane documentation that expects you to understand the math (yes you, Inkscape). Sadly, what started as a cool "look what we made" project from college kids has spun into a paid service.

What's sad about it being a paid service? It seems like they're adding a lot of value in ease-of-use.

My only objection is I can't see how much the token-based version costs without signing up ;)

I've used this for a while - it used to be free, I think it was hosted by some university. I would upload logos and stuff on there and then download the svg and scale them to my likings. It does work very very well.

Edit: it used to run only on a cluster of servers, the client-side program is new I think.

Windows or Mac only? Hmm.

Which, for nearly every graphic arts shop on the planet, is not a problem.

But for most startup servers who'd like to use it via an API, is.

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact