How to Vectorize in Inkscape

When people are getting into vector design, some people simply want to convert normal bitmap images into scalable vectors. Using Inkscape to vectorize an image is a great choice, and I’ll show you how in this tutorial.

1. Single Scan

Step 1

First, we need to find an image to vectorize. I went to and found this cute cow cartoon, then I imported the PNG file into Inkscape.

If you want to use a real-life photo, check out this tutorial instead.

import clipart inkscape

Step 2

Go ahead and select your image, then head up to Path > Trace Bitmap. The first example we’ll go over here will be a Single scan using Brightness cutoff. You’ll normally have to play around with the Threshold to get your trace to look just right, but this particular one worked well with a 0.500 Threshold.

inkscape trace bitmap

Step 3

After you click OK, you’ll end up with something like this! It’s a single path, which also means it’s officially vectorized as well. Unfortunately, we lost all of our color… but not all hope is lost!

single scan trace

2. Multiple Scans

Step 1

In order to fully vectorize with colors intact, we’ll need to use Multiple Scans. Choose Colors and make sure you pick enough scans to cover all of the colors – 7 scans looked good in this case. Also, I unchecked Smooth because it yielded better results. You just have to mess with the settings, that’s all.

multiple scans

Step 2

Click OK and watch the magic happen! This turned out very well actually, and as you can see below, we have our group of colored paths that make up a fully scalable cow cartoon.

vectorized color inkscape

Step 3

For further proof, check out the image below. The cow snout on the left is vectorized, and the one on the right is the original image.

vector vs bitmap


By using Inkscape’s amazing Trace Bitmap feature, we’ve created a fully scalable graphic from a normal bitmap image. It’s super easy to do and also a great way to keep images at the highest quality, even when zoomed in. Thanks for reading!

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