How to Convert a Make-a-Flake Snowflake JPEG to a Vector Graphic

How to Convert a Make-a-Flake Snowflake JPEG to a Vector Graphic

The Make-a-Flake snowflake generator allows you to download JPEGs of your design, which can be converted to a vector graphic in Inkscape.

Make-a-Flake is an online tool that allows you to quickly and easily produce custom snowflake designs. It's a Flash-based application that replicates the action of folding and cutting paper to produce a snowflake.

It can be a great way to produce a range of snowflake designs that can be used in festive and winter-themed projects year after year. One limitation for Inkscape users is that the site doesn't offer a vector line format for download, but if you download a JPEG, it can be converted to a vector line graphic in Inkscape using the Trace Bitmap feature.

Import Your Snowflake JPEG

When you open Inkscape, it automatically opens a blank document into which you can import your snowflake JPEG.

Go to File > Import, find the snowflake and click Open. If prompted, choose to embed the image, rather than linking to it.

Trace the JPEG

Converting a JPEG to a vector graphic in Inkscape is surprisingly easy, thanks to the Trace Bitmap feature.

If the imported snowflake has been deselected, click on it to select it and then go to Path > Trace Bitmap. Click the Edge Detection radio button and then click the Update button. Hopefully you will see that the preview shows quite a good outline with all the settings left at the defaults, but if not you may need to experiment a little. When happy, click OK to produce the tracing and then close the Trace Bitmap dialog.

Finesse the Traced Graphic

The JPEG to vector graphic conversion isn't complete yet, but you can delete the imported snowflake now.

You should see that the tracing has some text below it that we need to remove. To do this, select the Rectangle tool from the Tools palette and draw a rectangle that completely covers the snowflake, but the bottom edge stops just above the horizontal line that appears above the small text. Now click on the Select tool and, holding the Shift key, click on the small text so that the rectangle and tracing are both selected. Now go to Path > Cut Path.

Remove the Text

Right about now, it probably looks like I gave you duff information. Trust me, I didn't.

Assuming you haven't deselected the cut paths, go to Object > Fill and Stroke. If you did deselect the paths, just go to Edit > Select All. Now click the Stroke paint tab and click the Flat color button. All of the paths should now have an outline, but, if not, you may have to set a color using one of the color setting options such as RGB.

With the Select tool still active, click and drag a selection marquee around the text and horizontal line. When you release the mouse button, the text and line will be selected. Click the Delete key to remove them.

Remove Unwanted Paths

At this point there should be two outlines for every part of the snowflake. If your snowflake is quite complex, you may need to zoom in during this step as we need to delete some paths so that there is only one version of each.

With the Select tool, you can click on the paths that you want to delete one by one and press the Delete key. Try and be consistent in either deleting the inner path or outer path. If you look at the screen grab, you may be able to see that I deleted the inner paths.

Produce a Single Path

We can now make these paths into a single path.

Go to Edit > Select All and then Path > Exclusion. If you now click on any color in the color swatch at the bottom of the window, you'll see the snowflake is now a single element. Also, if you place a different colored element below it, you'll see that it shows through the holes in the snowflake.

That's all there is to converting a JPEG to a vector graphic in Inkscape using the Trace Bitmap feature.