I have a PDF file with vector images inside it. (I downloaded it from the internet, so I do not have any originals.)

I wish to extract the vectors so that I can overlay them on some other images; use them in print media, or on a website.

How do I extract the specific vectors from the PDF file?

Is there, perhaps, any software which can extract the vectors from a PDF file? (Preferably free.)

  • 1
    @slhck: I meant Vector graphics. I did use Inkscape, and It works as expected. Can you please put your comment as an Answer, so that I can mark it as accepted? Jun 25, 2011 at 12:04

3 Answers 3


You can use Inkscape, which is a free, open source and cross-platform vector graphics application. It will allow you to import the PDF files and select embedded vectors:

Image from here.

You can then edit the vectors and process as you like.

General documentation is available on the Inkscape website. Details about PDF importing can be found here:

Note that on Linux it like requires X11. There is also a native Windows version.

Alternatively, you may want to give Adobe Illustrator a go (paid software).


While Inkscape is an awesome way to do it, for those lacking X11, you can also extract individual pages of a PDF into SVG format using the poppler-utils at the command line. For example, to extract just page 30:

$ pdftocairo -f 30 -l 30 -svg  somehugemanual.pdf  myextractedpage.svg

You can then use your favorite vector editor (mine is Inkscape) to isolate the image from the text.

Alternately, if you're a hardcore command-line user, you can extract to EPS (encapsulated postscript) and use sed to hide all the text (which happens to be between BT and ET lines for pdftocairo). Here's how:

$ pdftocairo -f 30 -l 30 -eps  manual.pdf  - | sed '/^BT$/,/^ET$/ d' > myimage.eps

And, if you're really insane to avoid using X11, you can even shrink the bounding box of the image from the command line using Ghostscript's eps2eps command:

$ eps2eps myimage.eps myimage-bb.eps

I've tested this and it works great. However, personally, I find it easier to just use Inkscape.

  • +1 your command line strips all text.. but do you know how to also strip all images? I'am looking for a solution where only the vector graphic is left :)
    – clarkk
    Mar 14, 2018 at 22:01
  • Does this work for you? cat foo.eps | sed '/^8 dict dup begin$/,/^Q$/ c Q' > nobitmaps.eps
    – hackerb9
    Mar 15, 2018 at 2:02
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    but is it then possible to check if the eps file even has vector graphic? :)
    – clarkk
    Mar 15, 2018 at 8:36
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    I suppose you could use Ghostscript's eps2eps to distill it down to its smallest bounding box and see if it's completely empty. But this is beginning to become a new question. Feel free to ask and I'm sure if I don't answer, someone will.
    – hackerb9
    Mar 15, 2018 at 23:56
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    @hackerb9 thanks, now the eps is readable, but the image is in really low density and some text still remains around it. The pdf is here, and the image is at page 7 May 25, 2019 at 7:43

You can use Affinity Designer (paid, not a subscription, you have to pay for every major version), which is available for Windows and Mac.

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