Learn how to take much of the work out of turning low-quality, low-resolution images into crisp, clean graphics.
Every now and then I come across imaging software that's above the ordinary. Such was the case at the recent SGIA Exposition in Las Vegas. As is usual, I came across it quite by accident. I almost didn't bother to stop, but I'm glad I did. I knew after just a couple of minutes watching the live demo that this software application had the potential to overcome some very common and annoying problems.
Any screen printer who's been in this business for more than a few months has experienced it. It's everywhere—and getting worse. The problem is low-resolution raster art. The customer may have swiped the offending image from the Internet, scanned it from a business card, a pencil sketch, or who knows what. To make matters worse, the customer often enlarges the low-res image, which leaves us with a graphic that looks bad before we get the chance to work on it. The art department then faces what could be hours of hard labor to render new art from the old. In many cases, you're better off building the art from scratch—but the customer won't pay the art charges. Reworking art is like remodeling a house. You don't know what you're getting yourself into until you're into it.
Auto-trace programs are the solutions that artists most often use to repair art. Software applications like CorelDRAW and Adobe Illustrator offer a tracing function to aid those who need to convert a raster image to vector format. Sometimes the tracer works, but most of the time it's just a starting point for more node editing and clean up. The auto-trace concept is sound enough, but until recently, it lacked the power and sophistication to be a serious, reliable tool in the production designer's arsenal.
Enter Imagaro Z from Sweden's Imagaro AB. It's a standalone application that takes the auto-trace concept and extends it nicely. Imagaro Z also offers powerful editing tools that supplement its superb auto-trace function.
The program can convert really terrible bitmapped images (scanned or downloaded) to clean, sharp, crisp vector art in a matter of seconds. The process starts by opening the original art in the Process window. The program handles line art, grayscale, full color, and photo. Most major file formats are supported, including PSD, JPG, TIF, BMP, PNG, and GIF. The program then determines whether the image is grayscale or color.
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