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The process of converting a bit-mapped image (or raster image) into a vector image. In a bit-mapped image, each object is represented by a pattern of dots, while in a vector image every object is defined geometrically.

Most autotracing packages read files in a variety of bit-mapped formats (PCX and TIFF are the most common) and produce a file in a vector format such as Encapsulated PostScript (EPS ). The conversion techniques used, and the accuracy of the conversion process, differ from one package to another.

Autotracing is particularly useful for manipulating images produced by an optical scanner. Scanners produce bit-mapped images that cannot be manipulated by sophisticated tools until they have been converted into a vector format through autotracing.

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