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4 ways to turn a picture into a plottable SVG

June 28th, 2019

Plotify2D makes it easy to plot svg files with your 3D printer, but what if you have a picture that's not in svg format?

You'll have to somehow transform your input image (colored pixels saved in .png or .jpg format) into actual paths that a pen could follow.

There are many approaches to this problem, in this post we are going to cover 4 tools you can use today.

  1. For the bicycle example below, I used a two step process: (1) I extracted outlines from the original image (2) I traced the outlines to convert them from raster to vector format. I used rapid-resizer's free stencil tool to create the outline image and then I used their free tracing tool to convert the outline to vector format. For a similar effect you could also checkout Inkscape's tutorial on tracing bitmaps.

Raster image of bicycle converted to plottable image

  1. Another option is to use the Squiggle cam web app. It works by using the brightness in your original image to vary the amplitude of sine waves that travel across the output image. The squiggle drawing can then be downloaded in SVG format and plotted.

Raster portrait converted to squiggle svg

  1. StippleGen uses dots instead of squiggly lines to turn your raster image into a plottable vector image. The software is free and runs on Windows/Mac/Linux.

Raster image of puppy converted to stipple svg image

  1. SVGurt is an open source webapp that supports a variety of raster-to-svg transformations. There's a bunch of dials and checkboxes, if you play with things for a while you might land on something you like.

Raster image of palm tree transformed to multiple svg styles using SvgUrt

That's it for now, if we stumble on more useful tools we'll do another blog post!

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