Inkscape User Manual

Un-official manual by Kevin Wixson

Table Of Contents

Part VII
Chapter 3: Trace Bitmap



{ Note: until this page is complete, be sure to read the Help > Inkscape: Tracing tutorial. }

With the Path > Trace Bitmap command, Inkscape attempts to convert a bitmap image into a vector graphic one. Inkscape incorporates the Potrace program ( to provide this functionality, and in-depth documentation about the function of this feature can be found at the web site for Potrace.

In order to achieve a vector graphic image the program attempts to detect edges within the image and guess the shape of the paths. The different methods (algorithms) for detecting the edges within the bitmap image account for the various options available in the Trace Bitmap window. In each case experimentation will be required to determine the optimal settings. The resolution of the image will also have an impact on the accuracy of the trace, and images with a higher resolution do not necessarily yield better results. Lower resolution images will result in smoother paths with fewer nodes.


Use this method for images that have high contrast, such as black on white, with sharp edges. Adjust the threshold setting to the lowest setting to provide a continuous shape without holes in the fill areas of the image.

Edge Detection


Quantization / Reduction


Multiple Scanning



Options & Preferences

Additional Information

After using the Trace Bitmap command, try using the Path > Simplify command to reduce the number of nodes in the object and to increase smoothing.

Related Topics


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This manual is my scratch pad and development site for the Inkscape documentation project. Documentation that appears here may eventually work its way into the official Inkscape documentation, and changes to the Inkscape documentation may work it's way into this draft. It is a work in progress, so please don't mind the mess. Anything that appears here is GPL'ed under the usual licenses for GPL documentation, yada, yada, yada, or has been dedicated to the public domain. For a list of those elements that have been placed in the public domain, please click here.

Links To Official Inkscape Resources