Can Vector Magic De-Pixelate a Photo?

by Sally J.

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Why Would I Want Vectorization?

It allows you to blow up images a lot. We’re talking really big. Banner sized. If you blew up a TIFF or JPEG file that large, it would look like an abstract mosaic. Terrible.

Vectorization is the process of converting a raster image to a vector image. Raster images are pixel-based. Vector images are represented by geometric shapes such as lines, circles and curves.

Vector Magic is a free web-based tool from the good folks at Stanford. No registration or login required.

Is Vector Magic Good At Vectorizing?

Absolutely. When I started with a high quality image, the before and after looked very similar. I’d give it an A.

Just perfect for blowing up your logo big enough to be seen from across a room. Or the anniversary photo that’s going on a poster at the dinner party.

Can Vector Magic De-Pixelate an Image?

Er, yes but…it looks a little funky.


The vectorized version of my simpsons avatar is kinda abstract, but for the most part it’s cool. What creeps me out is the two different pupil sizes. So I’d give it a B-. If I really needed to blow this up, I would go back and play with the various options more.

I also created a very low resolution thumbnail to test the limits of the de-pixelation powers of Vector Magic. I’d give it a C-.

If you’re into digital scrapbooking, you could use it as a paint-by-numbers effect.


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