Color Trace

The Color Trace converts a color bitmap into colored vectors. The color trace process involves two steps. The first is Posterizing, which reduces the number of colors. Then the posterized image is traced into objects of different colors.


In the DesignCentral - Color Trace and Autotrace tabs, adjust the following parameters:

For the Autotrace tab, see: Autotrace

Posterize Bitmap When checked, the posterized bitmap will replace the original bitmap.
Edge Filter Determines how aggressively the application removes noise from the bitmap when posterizing. When None is selected, no noise will be removed. Most removes the maximum amount of noise.


Number of Posterized Colors

Controls the number of colors the program will use to posterize the bitmap. If there are several shades of a given color in the bitmap, specify one or more colors beyond the actual number needed to ensure the correct colors are retained.


Posterized Color Bars

Appear after selecting part or all of a bitmap using a bounding box or Ctrl+click. The number of color bars is determined by the value entered in the Number of Posterized Colors field.


Background Color

The background color is indicated by a folded corner.

The active color is indicated by a black triangle below the color bar.

  • Click a bar to select or deselect it. Use this feature to select colors for merging into the active color.
  • Shift+click a bar to toggle its tracing off; click it again to toggle the tracing back on.
  • Ctrl+click a bar to change its tracing color, or drag a color from the Swatch Table onto the tracing.


Merge into Active

Merges the selected color into the active color.



Undoes the last merge operation.


  • From the Main toolbar, select Color Trace tool. OR
  • From the Bitmap Menu, point to Vectorize and select Color Trace
    mceclip7.png     mceclip9.png
  • Adjust the tracing parameters in the DesignCentralColor Trace and Autotrace tabs.
  • To trace the entire bitmap or parts of it:
    • Click the bitmap to trace one object.
    • Click and drag the cursor to create a rectangular bounding box. (Hold Shift to create a square bounding box.) Surround the objects in the bitmap that you want to trace.
    • Hold Ctrl and click to trace all of the bitmap.
  • Edit the color palette and the posterized image as described in the next item.
  • Click Apply.

While color tracing an image, you can specify the number of colors that will be in the Number of Posterized Colors list.

If a Background color was found, it will be placed on the far left side of the color palette. The background color will not be traced, as indicated by the folded corner.

Traced parts of the bitmap with an Untraced color will not be displayed in the preview and will not be traced. You can skip any color in the untraced color by Shift-clicking it.

The color with a triangle underneath is the Active color. The active color is used when merging colors. To make one color active, click the space underneath the color.

You can select colors by clicking them. To deselect the color, click again. You can select multiple colors. Selecting an invisible color will make it visible.

When you have two or more colors that you want to trace with the same color, you can merge them.


Merging Active Colors

  • Make the destination color Active.
  • Select the colors to be merged.
  • Click Merge into Active.
    • You can undo the operation by clicking Undo on the Color Trace tab. Only the last merge can be undone. OR
    • Click and drag a source color button over a destination color button.

To change the order of color buttons in the palette, click and drag a color button to a position between or after the existing color buttons.

To edit a posterized color in the color palette, hold Ctrl and click the color button.

After Posterizing the Image

  • Click and hold the area in the posterized image that contains the source color.
    • The eyedropper cursor will change into a paint bucket cursor.
  • Drag the paint bucket cursor onto the object where the color will be applied.
  • Release the mouse button.
DesignBitmapColortraceAfterPost1.png DesignBitmapColorTraceAfterPost2_104x97.png DesignBitmapColorTraceAfterPost3.png
Click the object with the source color Drag where the color will be applied Release the button and the color will be applied
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