potrace, rad image vectorizer

March 31st, 2004  |  Tags:  |  4 Comments

A colleague pointed me to potrace as a potential way to tame some ridiculous scatter plots that I’d made. (They had ca. 30,000+ points — a paper with five of them took 45 minutes to print!) However, I soon found other applications.

The other day, I’d taken a lot of notes on my office whiteboard. I didn’t feel like copying them down, so I took a picture of the board with my digital camera, and used potrace to generate an efficient, readable PDF, suitable for framing (or, at least, printing). After all, what is technology for if not to facilitate laziness?

I decided to get “artistic” next — you know, scare-quotes artistic means “I did something cute and cheap with some image processing hack.” I applied potrace to the infamous waterskiing photo, with mildly pleasant results:

Before:

After:

potrace is available on Linux, Mac, and Windows (for those of you who lead a benighted computing existence). I bet you can come up with even better uses for it. In any case, I’m so impressed that I’m considering re-doing the friendly willbenton.com logo with potrace (a small version of that logo is the “favicon” on this site; the original was done by hand).

I’m currently listening to We Know Something You Don’t Know from the album “Deep Concentration, Vol. 4: Wreckin’ the Floor” by DJ Format, Chali 2na & Akil