Raster to vector converter for Windows
Why would you look at a vector-tracing program when you already have Illustrator CS2, which includes Live Trace? For most graphic artwork, Illustrator is a better option, but if you don’t happen to have the CS2 version (which introduced Live Trace) or work heavily with CAD-type art, then you might want to take a look at the MagicTracer 2 program.
At first glance, MagicTracer is more confusing than Illustrator’s Live Trace or the older Adobe Streamline, but it does offer more features, including a reasonable set of raster-editing tools for cleaning up an image before conversion, in addition to a number of vector-editing tools to fix up files afterward. The numerous conversion options may take a while to get familiar with and need some tweaking to get good results. Unfortunately, while the HTML-based manual covers the options, it’s a little light on detail and visual examples of what each setting does. Also, I’d like to have a PDF version of the manual for offline reading.
The MagicTracer program appears to be mainly for line-art conversion, so it’s best suited for scanned drawings meant for CAD programs. It doesn’t work well for converting raster images/photos into vector art—better stay with Live Trace for that. It can, however, import Photoshop files (although transparency isn’t supported) along with a number of other raster formats. While it doesn’t save directly to an Illustrator file, it can save to EPS or SVG and other vector formats.
A free demo version is available that works 20 times, so if you need to convert line art for use with CAD programs, check the program out. It’s pretty hard to go wrong for the $59.95 price.—David Creamer
HOT Good conversion utility for CAD-type files
NOT Not as easy as Illustrator’s Live Trace