The Difference between a Raster Image & a Vector Graphic
A raster graphic is an image typically edited in a program like Adobe Photoshop. It’s made of hundreds, thousands, sometimes millions of tiny, little color squares, generally referred to as pixels. The most popular raster file formats are: JPG/JPEG, PSD, PNG, TIFF, BMP, and GIF’s.
The Pros of Rasters?
- LOTS of details
- Limitless pixel editing
Don’t take this the wrong way, though. Just because there are no limits to the edits doesn’t mean it won’t take your graphic designer forever to do it!
The Cons of Rasters?
- Blurry when Enlarged
- Larger file sizes
The first con is the most important to recognize. See the illustration. When you zoom in to the photo, you can see the individual pixels. Do you see the graininess and pixilation? If you send a low-resolution logo in raster format to your graphic designer, chances are your end product will look grainy like this one.
A vector graphic is a graphic designed in a program such as Adobe Illustrator. Vectors use math to make shapes with lines, curves, and points. So a 1″ x 1″ raster image at 72 PPI (pixels per inch) will have 72 individual pieces of information (pixels), but a vector square (no matter what size) will only have 4 points in each corner. Computers use math to “connect the dots” so to speak, and fill in all the missing information. Popular vector file formats include: EPS, AI, and sometimes PDF’s. The image below shows a vector graphic in normal mode, then in outline mode. See all those lines?
The Pros of Vectors?
- Infinitely scalable
- Smaller file sizes
- Easily editable
The Cons of Vectors?
- Less detail (than raster images)
- Limited effects
The most important thing about vector graphics is that they will never lose their quality, and you can enlarge them to a million times their original size without them ever looking pixilated or blurry. They’re also much easier to edit than raster images, so make sure those logos are vector graphics!
Want a quote on converting your raster file logo to a vector file? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org!