Tag Archives: bitmap

How to vector a bitmap with Corel Draw X8

I know there are easier ways to get rid of the background in a bitmap, but I’ve never been able to achieve the crisp results I wanted, so instead I apply nodes to the bitmap, effectively turning it into a vector of a bitmap.

What do I mean? I’ll explain with a real life example. This is the image I downloaded from freeimages.com:

The reason I downloaded it was because I wanted those two gears, and only those two gears. This is what I ended up with after 3 days of boring, painstaking work:

 

As you can see, the gears now appear in splendid isolation, crisp and clear, as if I’d photographed them against that dark charcoal background. This is how I did it.

Step 1 – Use the File/Import command [Ctrl I] to bring the bitmap file into Corel Draw X8.

Step 2 – Select the bitmap and click the Shape Tool as shown:

Step 3 – The bitmap should now have nodes displayed at each corner.

Right click anywhere on the ‘lines’ between the nodes to place a new node and open the right click menu:

 

Step 4 – From the right click menu select the ‘Add’ option. This will give you a new node to work with.

Step 5 – Use the Shape Tool to move the new node to the edge of the shape you want to bring out. At this point the lines between nodes will all be ‘straight’:

Step 6 – [optional] As this point I usually create a dark coloured, vector rectangle and place it behind the bitmap so I can see the shape, and its background, more easily. Use the Object/To Back of Page command to locate the rectangle behind the bitmap.

Step 7 – To mold the lines around the bitmap shape, you have to make them capable of bending into a curve. To do this, right click the node you want to change to a curve. The context sensitive menu is displayed again. This time, select the ‘To curve’ option.

Step 8 – The line between nodes should now display two directional arrows:

Click-hold-and-drag the directional arrows to create the required curve.

For the teeth of the gears, I had to use about 5 nodes for each tooth:

As you create the vector shape around the bitmap shape, the coloured background will be revealed, proving that the emerging shape no longer has a background. And of course that means you can place it on top of other images like so:

Ta dah! Not completely finished but it’ll do for now. Oh and I finally worked out how to stop the CMYK black from displaying as grey when converting to an RGB image. Soooo simple.

With the Corel Draw X8 screen displayed, select:

Tools/Color Management/Default Settings

This is will cause a popup window to be displayed. Find the Color Conversion Settings and change the Color Engine to ‘None’:

Now the blacks will stay black instead of displaying as a kacky grey. 🙂

cheers

Meeks


#Corel X8 vector graphics vs photos

In my last post about the new Innerscape cover, I vented about the trouble I was having getting the silver effect I wanted. Your suggestions were brilliant so I thought I’d do a quick update of my progress. The pic below is a test graphic to illustrate the difference between the two methods and how they might look in the finished product:

The silver ‘wire’ was created using Corel X8’s fountain fill. It is clearly silver, even when I reduce the size down, i.e. it scales well. Unfortunately it is absolutely uniform, something a real ‘wire’ would never be.

By contrast, the gold ‘wire’ is a photo taken of a thin needle shape covered in foil. The foil was silver, but the lighting created this decidedly golden effect [evening, overhead light and table lamp, both with bulbs of ‘warm white’]. I only know this with the wisdom of hindsight. 😦 If you look closely at the column on the right, you will see that when I increase the size of the gold wire, it becomes more and more pixelated, i.e. it doesn’t scale well. [Clicking on the image should display a larger version]

Finally, I created two, identical slices of the circuit board. Both were made by creating the individual components and ‘grouping’ them together. The silver, vectored one is shown below:

Although each of the tubular components comes from the one, basic shape, I fiddled with the fountain fill to a) make the image more realistic, and b) to reduce the uniformity. The golden slice is also made up of individual components, but essentially I just cut them out and stuck them together. I really like the way the image turned out, and I like the golden colour, but it’s not what I was after.

Which will I use?

This question is not as either/or as it looks. In designing the covers for the Innerscape print version, I wanted each one to:

  • have a unifying ‘theme’
  • be different
  • tell a subtle visual ‘story’

Thus, as book 1 is about Miira leaving the real world and entering a virtual one, I want her facing towards the stark, artificial image of the circuit board. That’s why the image has to be instantly recognizable as part of a computer. Books 2 and 3, however, will show a gradual blurring of the lines between real and virtual, with the changing circuit board being the unifying ‘theme’ that binds each image of the series.

At least, that’s the idea. Whether I can actually pull off this ambitious idea is moot. To make it work I’ll have to create two, completely different images of the circuit board – one with the silver wires and one with the gold. As each small wire will be made up of at least 3 components, it’s going to be a huge job. Not impossible, but it will test my patience as the original circuit board image has very few wires that are exactly the same.

To be honest I think I’m crazy to even think about doing this, and yet…how often do you get to create your first print book? Sitting here, calmly typing about my options, I know I’d hate myself if I gave this project anything less than my best, and fudging the graphics would definitely be a cop out. So…I’m going to be a busy girl. 🙂

cheers

Meeks


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