Scalable vector graphics

“SVG” to its friends

The SVG format is the Grand Central Station of vector graphics, with branch lines to PDF or and the other compatible formats like as Adobe Illustrator, EPS and xfig.


pdf2svg is handy in conjunction with (almost) any of the other programs to convert between vector formats.


The classic Potrace converts bitmap images to SVG. Apparently it is integrated into inkscape.


Open source Inkscape can do everything, although I find its Adobe Illustrator pretensions (perhaps unfairly) grating. Aimed firstly at general vector graphic design, which means the functions I want for sciency stuff are not front-and-center, but it can be done.


A fresh option leveraging web technology is Jarosław Foksa’s Boxy, a web app with pseudo-desktop apps for various platforms. I think it is free, but closed source?

Minimizing size of

Victor Zhou shows how to minimize bloaty SVGs using svgo:

npm install -g svgo
$ svgo test.svg -o - | gzip -cfq9 > test.svgz

algorithmically generating

Libraries of line art

See the free content page.


Carlier, Alexandre, Martin Danelljan, Alexandre Alahi, and Radu Timofte. 2020. DeepSVG: A Hierarchical Generative Network for Vector Graphics Animation.” In.

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