I have a raster image, basically a scanned drawing of the outlines (and some detail) of various objects, and I wish to convert these lines to vectors, using either Illustrator or Inkscape.
My present solution is to have the raster image as a background layer, and in a new layer above it I use the pen to follow the lines as close as possible. Later I tweak these lines to fit the raster image better. That has worked fine for simple drawings. However for some of my extremely complex drawings, this is very tedious to do.
Is there any tool or filter of some sort that is capable of recognizing the lines in line drawings and creating vector paths from them?
In inkscape, you count on sort of Potrace(an excelent tracer, free) embedded there. Just go to top Path menu, vectorize. I've played quite with its settings, and while you won't get total control you can reduce it to quite an accurate result and few nodes. But you need to play a lot with the settings till you find the right ones for you. It worked for me for producing game line-art from rasters (in a very similar style to comics drawings)
Other ways I used is forcing Illustrator to do a kind of averaging, in stroke settings. And lately, using the free MyPaint, because it has quite a lot of settings(more than in many commercial packages) to control your stroke and does a fix in real time of the trembling stroke (btw, the reason why it takes more time inking with pen tablets is as the electro magnetic system andmaybe the resolution is not as accurate as your hand, pen and paper.Often a low resolution table, like Intuos Small, is not enough, and you need a bigger format for better control. IMHO, is best the biggest formats. (a lot of people think other way, but imho, for inking is just like that.))