Stanford University’s Artificial Intelligence Laboratory has developed an online autotrace tool that is dramatically more accurate than the LiveTrace tool available in Adobe Illustrator, or the old Adobe Streamline utility that some designers still have lurking around their hard drive. Even better it’s free! VectorMagic is available as an online tool on their website:
You upload your bitmap image, answer a couple questions about the original image, and the system creates a vector EPS version that you can download and edit. Their example results are stunning, and from our own experiments at CreativeTechs with a few real-world projects, the results are impressive.
The interface is fairly straight-forward. But if you get lost they also have a quick 3-minute video tutorial showing the system in action. Give it a shot.
Source: This tip inspired by a recent label design project for Firesteed Wine (a tasty wine by the way) by Seattle designer Craig Marocco. The actual tip comes from the January 2008 issue of Design Tools Monthly.