Vector vs Raster Graphics: What's the difference?

When we begin working with a new client, one of the first things we ask them is whether or not they have a vector file of their logo or artwork. It's usually at this point that we get blank stares, followed by "What's a vector?"

While we can generally work with any type of artwork — including hand-drawn — vector graphics make our lives easier for a number of reasons. This article will explain the difference between vector and raster graphics. (And if you still don't get it, don't worry. We know this stuff so you don't have to.)

Raster Images

We'll start with raster images because whether you know it or not, you're probably familiar with these. Raster images use a series of colored blocks (or pixels) to form a complete image, and you'll see them as .PNG, .GIF, and .JPG file extensions.

Since raster images are built using a fixed number of pixels, they become "grainy" or "blurry" when stretched beyond their original size, and in some cases become unusable. So you may have a raster image that looks great on your business card, but when we enlarge it to print on a t-shirt it will generally look horrible.

Enter Vector Images

Unlike raster images, vector images contain the mathematical information needed to create an image rather than individual blocks. This means that we can scale them to any size without degrading the image quality. So in this case, we could use the same vector image file to create business cards, screen print t-shirts — even decorate the company yacht!

Vector formats include .EPS, .AI, .SVG and (sometimes) .PDF file extensions. They're typically created with a professional graphics program such as Adobe Illustrator or Affinity Designer.

What If I Don't Have a Vector File?

If you don't have a vector version of your artwork or logo, don't worry! In most cases, we can create a vector image from another image file type. Just send us the largest, highest-resolution copy of the artwork that you have, as that will make the conversion process easier. And if we can't convert your existing artwork — or if you don't have any artwork — we can always draw it for you.

Posted by Simply Expressible

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