potrace – transforming bitmaps into vector graphics

potrace is an open source utility for tracing a bitmap, which means, transforming a bitmap into a smooth, scalable image. The input is a bitmap (PBM, PGM, PPM, or BMP format), and the default output is an encapsulated PostScript file (EPS).

A typical use is to create EPS files from scanned data, such as company or university logos, handwritten notes, etc. The resulting image is not “jaggy” like a bitmap, but smooth. It can then be rendered at any resolution.

potrace can produce the following output formats: EPS, PostScript, PDF, SVG (scalable vector graphics), Xfig, Gimppath, and PGM (for easy antialiasing).

A separate program, mkbitmap, is also provided. This program can act as a pre-processor for Potrace, applying scaling and various filters to an image before converting it to a bitmap. This is useful for potracing greyscale and color images. There are several front-ends for potrace.

Features include:

  • Reads bitmaps in the following formats: PBM, PGM, PPM as well as BMP.
  • Outputs to the following formats: EPS, PostScript, PDF, SVG, DXF, PGM, Gimppath, and XFig.

Website: potrace.sourceforge.net
Support: Man page
Developer: Peter Selinger
License: GNU GPL v2

potrace is written in C. Learn C with our recommended free books and free tutorials.

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