Tracing a simple template – Paint Bucket Mini Tutorial

June 13, 2009 at 7:44 pm 5 comments


Want a quick and easy way to autotrace a simple line art shape in Inkscape without the pesky double line problem? Well, once you have your defaults set, all it takes is one click with the paint bucket tool.

The steps above work for any fairly crisp line art you can open or import into Inkscape. Zoom in so that the shape you want to vectorize fits on the screen and is as large as possible without the “jaggies.” Clicking the plus and minus keys is helpful for finding the right zoom level. Then simply follow the steps on the screen shot above, which is from this file if you want to follow along. (Note: I set my paint bucket fill to none and its stroke to hot pink for high visibility, but remember, colors, line styles, etc. don’t matter to SCAL.)
Some other notes:

  • If nothing happens when the paint bucket is clicked, try again and see if the infobar gives you an error message.
  • If you do not see an outline appear, but a dotted rectangle appears around the shape, you need to set the stroke (outline color/thickness/transparency) so it is visible. This can be done with the Object>Fill and Stroke pallette.
  • You can also switch to outline mode to see your new vector View>Display mode>Outline. The red X is your original image, which doesn’t display in outline mode since it is a bitmap.
  • If your template’s shape is not completely closed like the one above, use the “Close Gaps” adjustment to the right of the other settings before you click with the paint bucket.
  • If your template’s lines are not crisp like the one above or it has many levels of gray, turn the threshold level up and try again. If you do not like the result, just backspace, change the threshold setting and try again.
  • When you are done tracing, you may want to press control-L one or more times to simplify the trace before you cut it. Set the simplification threshold in your Inkscape Preferences>Misc to .0005 for best results.
  • If your template consists of multiple shapes, you can hold down the shift key as you click the paint bucket to automatically union each piece to the last.

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5 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Karen  |  June 14, 2009 at 11:07 am

    I absolutely love this tut… made everything so so easy, thanks for this

  • 2. Anita  |  June 22, 2009 at 4:11 am

    Thanks for the tut, I’m trying to learn Inkscape you are helping me a bunch. Anita

  • 3. wendy  |  June 26, 2009 at 10:21 pm

    Thanks heaps your are my favorite blog to visit

  • 4. AMIN  |  October 6, 2009 at 12:52 pm

    I will try this….

  • 5. Stewart  |  October 6, 2013 at 6:30 pm

    I have line drawings of fashion range that i want to convert to SVG or Vector so i can go to 3D


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