AutoTrace logo AutoTrace - converts bitmap to vector graphics













  • AutoTrace now also available online. [01/28/04]
  • Delineate 0.5 has been released. [12/28/03]
  • Delineate 0.4 has been released. [11/05/03]
  • Delineate 0.2 has been released. Delineate is another GUI front end for autotrace written in Java. [9/13/03]
  • First public release of frontline, a Gnome/Gtk+ based GUI front end for autotrace. With frontline you are able to set trace options via GUI and preview trace results quickly. [11/12/02]
  • New release 0.31.1 available for download. Fixed compile time error, centerline tracing , dr2d and dxf output [11/09/02]
  • Grrr: There is a program that is comparable to AutoTrace: ScanFont 3.0. Please help to make AutoTrace better than this program! A demo for Windows could be downloaded here. [10/08/99]
  • Call for Help: AutoTrace needs more import/export filters, porting to other platforms, ... Who wants to help developing these parts? [09/23/99]
  • AutoTrace mailing-list started. Look at Yahoo! Groups for subscription or send an email to and subscribe automatically. [09/21/99]

Welcome to AutoTrace - a program for converting bitmap to vector graphics.
The aim of the AutoTrace project is the development of a freely available application with a functionality similar to CorelTrace or Adobe Streamline. I hope that it will become better than all commercially available programs. In some aspects it is already better.
AutoTrace is free software. AutoTrace is distributed under the term of GNU GPL.


AutoTrace currently comes in source code and some binaries - you have to compile the package for other platforms yourself. After downloading the archive, unpack the distribution and use make to compile it.


Here is a short description of currently supported formats:

  • Inputformats BMP, TGA, PNM, PPM, PGM, PBM and those supported by ImageMagick.
  • Exportformat Postscript, svg, xfig, swf, pstoedit, emf, dxf, cgm, mif, p2e and sk

Some screenshots are available here:
Simple example and it's output
Comparison of tracing a small m with AutoTrace and other programs
Comparison of tracing small circles with AutoTrace and Scanfont
Comparison of tracing letters with AutoTrace and Scanfont


Currently there is no documentation other than the online help.


Binaries (Windows):
Windows on an Intel i386/486/586 with VC++ 7.0 version 0.31.1
Windows on an Intel i386/486/586 with VC++ 6.0 version 0.30
Windows on an Intel i386/486/586 with VC++ 6.0 version 0.29
Windows on an Intel i386/486/586 with VC++ 6.0 version 0.28
Windows on an Intel i386/486/586 with VC++ 6.0 version 0.27
Binaries (GNU/Linux):
RedHat Linux 7.2 on an Intel i386/486/586 version 0.30
AutoTrace 0.31.1




I invite you to participate in the AutoTrace project. First, if you plan to contribute some code, please contact me in order to avoid duplicate work.

  • Core:
    - Speed up
    - Improve tracing quality
    - Bugs?!
    - Recognition of Circle and Ellipse pieces.
    - Addition of code to recognize lines, splines and circles even if there is a lot of noise
    - Currently pictures have to fit completely into memory
    - New algorithm to work best with antialiased pictures
    - 3D recognition
    - Better list management, that means the current generation of lists is time consuming and fragmentates the heap.
    - Outlines are traced two times that means that it could be faster and if we trace and fit every outline only once we will not have the problems with unwanted gaps anymore.
    - Better thinning algorithm like CAT (Chordal Axis Transformation)
  • Input:
    - Mirgrate new plug-in interface with using glib(0.32)
    - Support of image libraries as freeimage, gdk-pixbuf or paintlib(0.32)
  • Output:
    - Mirgrate new plug-in interface with using glib(0.32)
    - New export formats like wmf, cdr, cmx, compressed pdf, compressed svg and dxf with splines...
  • Library and its clients:
    - Graphical userinterface
    -- For gnome/gtk, frontline is under developing.
    (See It works well with sodipodi, a drawing editor.)
    -- For KDE/Qt?
  • ...

Thanks to

  • Bernhard Herzog (Postscript, svg and sk export filter)
  • Ian MacPhedran (xfig export filter)
  • Martin Kroeker (bugfixes)
  • Tobias Polzin (bugfixes)
  • Kevin O'Gorman (Shockwave support)
  • MenTaLguY (png import filter)
  • Peter Cucka (bugfixes)
  • Enrico Persiani (emf export)
  • Johannes Schindelin (Magick import filter)
  • Masatake YAMATO (library, help with cvs)
  • Steffen Politzky (dxf export)
  • David A. Bartold (part of despeckle)
  • Han-Wen Nienhuys (rpm-spec file)
  • R. P. C. Rodgers (man page)
  • Allen Barnett (improved emf export)
  • Andrew Elia (dr2d export filter)
  • 11/09/02
    version 0.31.1 (Fixed compile time error, centerline tracing, dr2d and dxf output)
  • 10/24/02
    version 0.31.0 (Fixed some bugs, better centerline tracing, now recognizes linewidths and fully integrates pstoedit and new dr2d output format)
  • 04/03/02
    version 0.30 (Fixed some bugs in the filtering routine, fixed pdf export, fixed despeckle, fixed emf export, better error handling mechanism, rpm spec file template, pkgconfig support, man page)
  • 12/23/01
    version 0.29 (Fixes the lowercase/uppercase problems, fix for swf export, new MIF and CGM export, code rearrangements)
  • 12/08/01
    version 0.28 (Several bugfixes, Progress bar, Cancel point, Efforts to make libautotrace.a thread-safe, Clean up library name space (all exported symbols have "at_" prefix), DXF, EPD and PDF export, Despeckling filter)
  • 03/24/01
    version 0.27a (Fixed a compilation problem)
  • 03/23/01
    version 0.27 (Parts of the code were rearranged, fixed a bug in color quantization, centerline support, Elastic Reality output, now works with new versions of ImageMagick, swf output(via libming), dxf output was removed because it never worked, speed up and simplification of the fitting routine)
  • 11/16/00
    version 0.26 (Fixed a lot of bugs, faster, additional thinning)
  • 10/09/00
    version 0.25 (Better eps and ai export, new emf export, better bmp import, tga import and usage of ImageMagick Library. Problems with 64 bit fixed.)
  • 09/19/00
    version 0.24a (color support, better ps/ai export, pstoedit export)
  • 02/20/00
    version 0.23 (pbm/pnm bugfix)
  • 02/12/00
    version 0.22 (eps export fixed, rudimentary dxf export)
  • 02/07/00
    version 0.21 (frontline a graphical user interface integrated, totally new pnm/pbm import filter, eps export now readable with CorelDraw 3/4, autoconf and automake support)
  • 01/28/00
    frontline is available (a graphical frontend to AutoTrace)
  • 01/27/00
    version 0.201 (Now GPL, no code change)
  • 01/22/00
    version 0.20 (Macromedia Shockwave support added)
  • 12/18/99
    version 0.19 (small fix, some code rearrangement)
  • 11/26/99
    version 0.18 (some fixes in xfig export, in the header files and in the help)
  • 11/13/99
    version 0.174 released (now works also with Visual C++ on Windows, bugfix, small improvements, code reorganization, xfig export filter)
  • 10/10/99
    version 0.16 released (small improvement with cyclic round objects, bugfix, compilation problems with HP UX and Solaris solved.)
  • 10/03/99
    version 0.15 released (bugfix, improved speed)
  • 10/02/99
    version 0.14 released (better outline tracing for small objects)
  • 09/29/99
    version 0.13 released (additional output formats)
  • 08/08/99
    version 0.12 released (improved edge detection)
  • 08/05/99
    version 0.11 released (bugfix only)
  • 08/01/99
    version 0.1 released (standalone; completely redone)
  • 06/25/98
    version 0.025 first release (GIMP plugin)
Related links

Useful ideas and helpful code:

Similar Projects:

Vector drawing applications:

  • Sketch - yet another drawing application written in Python.
  • Xfig - a graphical FIG editor.
  • GTKFIG - a figure/flow-chart/data-structure diagramming tool.
  • GILL - a Gnome Illustration app.
  • Sodipodi - a small Vector based drawing program.
  • ImPress - a WYSIWYG layout program designed especially for Linux.
  • Tgif - Xlib based interactive 2-D drawing tool.
  • Dia - a gtk+ based diagram creation program.
  • Idraw - part of the Interviews toolkit or ivtools.
  • TexPict - Tck/Tk based drawing tool for LaTeX picture environment or eepic.
  • MetaPost - a powerful graphics language based on Knuth's METAFONT, but with PostScript output and facilities for including typeset text.
  • Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) - from W3C.
  • Vector Markup Language (VML)
  • Freedraft - 2D Open Source CAD.
  • plotutils - utilities for plotting.
  • Slidedraw - a slide presentation drawing program.
  • Metagraf
  • mvComicsMaker - interesting vector/bitmap editor for animations.
  • dxflib - library for reading and writing dxf files.
  • vec2web - converting dxf to png.
  • JTDraw - a simple drawing program for Windows in source code.
  • Rmap - display maps.
  • GRASS - Geographical Information System.
  • pstoedit - very good convertor of Postscript into different vector graphic formats.
  • jPicEdt - vector drawing program for LaTeX.

Font editors:

  • Editors - link collection to font editors.
  • GOTE - vector font editor.
  • pfaedit - postscript font editor.
  • Fontutils - font utility.
  • mftrace - font conversion program that uses AutoTrace.
  • TeXtrace - font conversion program that uses AutoTrace.

Other applications using autotrace:

Other graphic resources:

Color Quantization:

Color Image Segmentation

Imaging Software / Libraries

Noise Reduction

File formats


If you are interested in the development of AutoTrace, want to send bug reports or suggestions, please feel free to contact Martin Weber ().

Last modified by Martin Weber: 03/22/04