How To Convert a PNG to Vector with Adobe Illustrator?

Does your PNG loses its quality when enlarged?

A PNG image is a raster format image. It comprises pixels- individual colored boxes. You might have tried to enlarge your PNG file. It would have resulted in pixilation – pixels become more visible. If you want it enlarged without the loss of quality, you’ll have to vectorize it. To seek benefits of a vector image, convert png to svg or png to vector.

Raster Graphic: It is a two-dimensional image with a rectangular matrix or grid of square pixels.

Examples of Raster format images include-

  • JPG
  • PNG
  • GIF
    Characteristics of Raster Image-
  • Includes unique color
  • Contains tonal information

Vector Graphic: It is an image created from geometric shapes using points, lines, curves and polygons.

Examples of Vector format images include-

  • SVG
  • AI
  • EPS

Characteristics of a Vector Image-

  • Easy to edit
  • Infinite scalability without quality loss
  • Incapable of producing fine details
  • Simple illustrations

Convert png to svg or png to vector with Adobe Illustrator

Let’s say you want to convert a PNG format image into vector format. But, a raster format can’t be directly converted into a vector. Therefore, you’ll need a vector graphics application – Adobe Illustrator.

2 Methods to convert a PNG to Vector with Adobe Illustrator include-

  • Automatic Image Tracing
  • Manual Tracing
  • Automatic Tracing

If your design is a simple one then use the built-in feature.AI will automatically generate a vector tracing of your PNG image.  Pros of using this feature are that it is easy and quick. The con of the feature is that it is not always accurate.

How To Auto-Trace Your PNG File?

  • First, open a new document to convert png to svg or png to vector.
  • Import your PNG file into the Adobe illustrator png to vector.

(File > Place & Locate it on your disk)

  • Select the Select Tool.
  • Open the Image Trace menu. (Navigate to Window > Image Trace).
  • In case of a colored PNG image, choose “color” from the Mode drop down.
  • In case of a simple black and white design, no need to change the defaults.
  • Preview to see how the tracing looks.
  • You’ll have to adjust the threshold slider for tracing a black and white design. This adjustment will depend on the composition of your PNG. In case of a colored PNG, you’ll need to adjust the number of colors accordingly.
  • Preview to check the accuracy of your tracing.
  • Click Trace to generate it.
  • Edit it a little further and get rid of the background.

(Object > Expand)

(Object > Ungroup twice)

Manual Tracing

You might have tried auto-tracing the design but the results were not satisfactory. In case your design is a complex one, you’ll have to manually trace it by hand. Thereafter, you can convert png to svg or png to vector.


  • Dedicated tools are included in the illustrator for creating these shapes.
  • Saves you time.
  • Produce more accurate results if drawn manually.
    How to Manually Trace Your PNG File?

The foremost step is to look for common shapes in your design.

The shapes would include-

  • Squares
  • Rectangle
  • Circle and ellipses
  • Triangles
  • Polygons and
  • Stars

1. Identify the common shapes in your design in illustrator png to vector conversion.

2. To trace manually, use the Pen Tool and the Curvature Tool. 

Pen Tool: It is an ideal tool for tracing over straight lines.

Curvature Tool: It is an ideal tool for tracing over wavy and curved lines. This tool automatically creates curved lines based on where anchor points are placed.

3. The style of lines will determine the selection of your tool.

4. After finishing tracing shapes, you can use Shape Modes. This will help you create negative space where needed.

5. Save your file in the desired vector format.

6. Your vector tracing is complete!

You can use the above two methods to convert png to svg or png to vector. It is recommended to use the auto-tracing method for a simple image. Too complex an image should be manually traced.

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