It is a significant challenge to reduce the scanning time in atomic force microscopy while retaining imaging quality. In this paper, a novel non-raster scanning method for high-speed imaging is presented. The method proposed here is developed for a specimen with the simple shape of a cell. The image is obtained by scanning the boundary of the specimen at successively increasing heights, creating a set of contours. The scanning speed is increased by employing a combined prediction algorithm, using a weighted prediction from the contours scanned earlier, and from the currently scanned contour. In addition, an adaptive change in the height step after each contour scan is suggested. A rigorous simulation test bed recreates the x–y specimen stage dynamics and the cantilever height control dynamics, so that a detailed parametric comparison of the scanning algorithms is possible. The data from different scanning algorithms are compared after the application of an image interpolation algorithm (the Delaunay interpolation algorithm), which can also run on-line.