Friday, February 25, 2011

Converting PowerPoint Shapes to Vector Graphics

I guess you could say that my first experience with vector graphics [1] was drawing shapes in Microsoft PowerPoint. I used PowerPoint to draw a few things, but I was often frustrated by the limitations of that program. Then I discovered Inkscape and now I use that for all my shape drawing. However, some of the pictures I created are still in PowerPoint. I wanted to convert them over to Inkscape files but for a long time I was unsure how. I've finally learned.[2]

In PowerPoint you can group shapes together by selecting them all, right clicking, and choosing group. Then you can right click again and select Save as Picture... A new window will open where you are prompted to name your new image. If you want a raster graphic, then save the image as a .bmp, .jpg, or .png. But if, like me, you're looking to convert those shapes to vector shapes for Adobe Illustrator or Inkscape, then save the image as a Windows Metafile (.wmf) or an Enhanced Windows Metafile (.emf). When you open either of these file types in your vector editing software, they'll appear as shapes which you can then manipulate, only with many more options at your disposal.

Here is an example of a picture I originally drew in PowerPoint before converting it to an .svg in Inkscape. A few years ago, while sitting in Plant and Soil Relations, waiting for class to start, I noticed a scorpion embroidered on the shoulder bag of one of my classmates. I wondered what it would look like if the entire creature were composed of triangles. So I drew one in PowerPoint. Fast forward to the present. I imported it into Inkscape and this is the final result:[3]


[1] If you're unsure what vector graphics are, see my post Raster Graphics and Vector Graphics.

[2] Thanks to Ellen Finkelstei for showing me the way. See

[3] Because of the way it's drawn, I call it the Triangle Scorpion (Androctonus trianguli).


  1. This was a very helpful post. Thanks!

  2. Wow, I can't believe I missed the option to export PowerPoint objects to formats other than PNG. Many thanks!

  3. Thanks, this has saved hours of work! :)
    My LaTeX presentation is now perfectly beautiful! ;)

  4. Thanks, this has saved me hours of work! :)
    And now my LaTeX presentation looks pretty! ;)

  5. Thank you so much for this :)! I was using the "Trace Bitmap" from a pasted picture so this is WAY better!!

  6. I am very much pleased with the post. I want to thank you for this great article. I enjoyed every little bit part of it and I will be waiting for the new updates.
    Raster to Vector