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RASTER vs VECTOR images - What's the difference?

Updated: Jan 24




If you are new to the digital design world, logo making, graphics and printing... chances are you've seen the verbiage RASTER or VECTOR when referring to different image art files. Both are important to know what they are and how/when to use them.

Regardless of how you've heard of either of these terms.... let me explain what they mean and why they are important to know.





RASTER - Raster, also known as bitmap images, consist of tiny squares called pixels.

Photos are RASTER files.

These pixels do not change size or expand without blurring or pixelating.

So for example, images on websites like logos, photos and other graphics are RASTER images. This is because when you upload an image online anywhere, it has to be a flat image.

So if you save them and try to zoom in or make the image larger in any kind of image program like Photoshop, Illustrator or photo editing app, the image will just blur as it gets bigger.


RASTER image file extensions:

  • .tiff (Tagged Image File Format)

  • .jpg (Joint Photographics Expert Group)

  • .png (Portable Network Graphic)

  • .gif (Graphics Interchange Format)

  • .bmp (Bitmap Image File)






VECTOR - Vector images are made up of curves and paths; directed by mathematics; allowing the file to preserve the layers of each element.

VECTOR files are artwork like logos and graphics; photographs can NOT be VECTOR files because they are flat images.


These files are used for printing purposes and editing purposes.

This way, if you want to print this image on something large like a car wrap, it can be blown up into a large print without blurring or distorting.

VECTOR files are not supported for webpage purposes. You can not upload a VECTOR file to facebook or a website.


Vector image file extensions:

  • .pdf (Portable Document Format; only when saved in vector format; can also be RASTER format)

  • .ai (Adobe Illustrator Document)

  • .eps (Encapsulated PostScript)

  • .svg (Scalable Vector Graphic)




"....so what file type do I need to use?"



RASTER

  • Social medias posts

  • Website layouts/posts

  • Really anything online















VECTOR

  • Printing artwork like logos, in large formats like car wraps

  • Printing artwork on large billboards or publications

  • Any printing situation where you need your image to be resized to a very large size; that way your art does not blur and distort.










THE MAIN POINT TO TAKE AWAY FROM THIS POST...


VECTOR images can be blown up large without blurring or distorting....

RASTER images can not. They become blurring and distorted when resizing.


That is it haha. I tried to keep the information in the post as simple as possible to avoid confusion because with all the details about each file type, it can be too much and you really only need to know those two things...


VECTOR can be sized with no issue... RASTER can not.

VECTOR is art files.... RASTER are image files like photos. :-)






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