Ever need to convert a puny JPEG or GIF of a client logo to EPS so you could scale it up? Adobe Illustrator’s Live Trace will do the job, but I don’t always have access to Illustrator on the client’s NLE. This handy web application does the trick quite nicely.
Update 2/27/08: Vector Magic has officially moved away from Stanford and is operating independently at vectormagic.com. It is no longer a free service, though the first two image conversions for new account holders are free.
Vector Magic is a project out of the Stanford University Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. It will take virtually any bitmap image and convert it to a vector-based EPS file. Photos get that cartoon animation look of those moderately creepy Charles Schwab ads. Line art looks pretty much as it did as a bitmap only now it is infinitely scalable.
I tested the service on a number of images and the results are comparable to Live Trace — and the interface is a lot more intuitive. It’s far easier to modify the results with Vector Magic’s online tools than it is to figure out the nuances of Live Trace. Vector Magic is about to be booted off the Stanford server, but the developers assure us the service will remain available. A recent survey on the site leads me to believe it might not remain free.