Tracing a simple image in Inkscape


This is my lap-bunny Minnow. I want to make a bunny brooch using Inkscape, tracing a quick sketch I drew on paper. I don’t have a scanner or Photoshop, but here’s a step-by-step guide as to how I turned my bunny sketch into a SVG file ready to be made by Ponoko.


The first thing I did was to draw a pencil sketch on paper. It’s rough, but that’s ok - I’m really only concerned with the edges of the shape.


I then drew around the pencil with a black pen. And took a photo with my camera.


I don’t have Photoshop - instead I use a program called Paint.Net. I opened my photo in Paint.Net and ‘painted’ the bunny black.


Still in Paint.Net, I played around with the contrast - to get the black as black as possible and white background as white as possible. This step is important, as the more defined the object, then the easier it will be to trace.


I then cropped the image in Paint.Net, so that just the silhouette of the bunny remained and saved my new jpeg file. The image was ready to trace, so I opened the jpeg file in Inkscape.


This prompt box appeared when I tried to open the jpeg in Inkscape, so I clicked ‘ok’. (I did want the image to be emebedded.)


Here’s my bunny as it appeared in Inkscape. It was still a jpeg image at this point, and I needed to turn it into vectors. To do this, I ‘selected all’ (Edit > Select All) and then clicked on Path > Trace Bitmap - as per the screenshot above.

This prompt box appeared, so I clicked ‘ok’ and the image was traced. I then closed the prompt box via the red ‘x’ in the top right-hand corner.
I now had a traced and fuzzy-looking bunny, that was made up of vectors!


The next thing I did was to set the correct stroke color. I wanted my bunny shape to be cut out - I didn’t want it to have a black fill. So I clicked on Object > Fill and Stroke to bring up the toolbox, and then clicked on the ‘x’ for the fill tab, which meant there would be no fill.



I then clicked on the ‘Stroke’ tab, and clicked the square next to the ‘x’ to bring up the commands for setting the stroke color.


The RGB colors then appeared. Because I wanted my bunny shape to be cut out, I needed to set the vector lines to R 0; G 0; B 255, as per the screenshot above. (Also leave the ‘A’ value set at 255).



Once I had set the stroke colors, I noticed that the original image was still behind my newly traced image - and used the black arrow tool to move it. I only wanted the blue outline of the bunny, so I deleted the original image, by right clicking on it and selecting ‘delete’.


The next step was also really important: if you’re using Inkscape, you must use the Ponoko templates, or there can be issues with the scale of your design. I opened a P1 size Inskcape template and copied my blue bunny design into it, but discovered it was a bit too big for the size of the template...

16_scale.png I scaled it by clicking on Object > Transform. I selected ‘scale’ from the tabs available, made sure that the ‘scale proportionally’ box was ticked, and then scaled my image down until it was the right size.


The last thing I needed to do was to set the correct stroke weight. I did this by again clicking on Object > Fill and Stroke, and selecting the ‘Stroke style’ tab. I made sure the measurements were set to mm and entered in ‘0.01mm’.


And that’s it! I can then copy the shape if I wish, and save it in SVG format, ready to upload to the Ponoko website.

Before uploading, I would quickly check that:
- the stroke weight was set to 0.01mm;
- the stroke colors were set to the correct blue cutting lines (R 0; G 0; B 255);
- I had deleted all other remnants of my original jpeg file.

If you have any other useful tips and tricks, please leave them below :-)



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  • 0
    Catherine Field-Dodgson


    And here's a photo of how it turned out - two bunnies cut on 3mm Bamboo Ply.

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