Vector vs Raster – What’s the difference?

· 3 minute read
vector vs raster

When you work as a visual communicator, whether you are an expert or beginner, it is your job to create the highest quality, most professional products to deliver the right message to the right audience. Understanding the various formats and media you can work with will help you effectively communicate. Both raster images and vector graphics have different purposes in design, so it’s good to understand when and where to use them.

What is a raster image?

Raster images are commonly used in the field of computers and digital photography. Raster images are sometimes known as bitmaps, Jpegs, tiffs and Gifs. It appears as a rectangular grid of pixels that can be viewed on a bitmapped display. Smaller images are easy to create in raster-based imaging. There are however challenges when it comes to increasing or decreasing the size and resolution.

What is a vector image?

Vector images or vector graphics are defined and created on a plane by connecting lines and curves. Using mathematical equations, it creates shapes. It creates finer and more detailed images. Zooming in on the image, you can clearly see the lines, points, and curves. It is useful for creating illustrations, logos, and other types of designs that can be printed on large objects.

Vector vs Raster : What’s the difference?

Scalable vector graphics consist of anchored dots connected by lines and curves, like the connect-the-dot activities. The graphics are known as resolution independent because they do not use pixels and are therefore infinitely scalable. Regardless of their size, their lines are sharp, with no loss of quality or detail. Moreover, these graphics are device-independent, meaning that their quality doesn’t depend on the number of dots available on a printer or pixels on a screen. The size of the files is relatively small because they consist of lines and anchor points.

Pixels or tiny dots of colours and tones make a raster image. When the image is zoomed or enlarged, these pixels appear like little squares on graph paper. Raster images are commonly created by digital cameras, or by scanning these images with raster-based software or into a computer.

There can be only a fixed number of pixels in each image. The quality of the image is determined by the amount of pixels it contains. This is called resolution. More pixels means  better quality at the same or larger sizes of the original, but this also increases the size of the file and the amount of space it takes to store the file. The lower the number of pixels, the lower the resolution. Resolution limits the size the image can be scaled up without being able to see pixels.

Vector vs Raster: When to choose which?

Vector graphics have a smaller file size and are easily scalable without losing quality. Thus vector designs are more suitable for use in digital printing such as business cards and billboards. Web-based objects, rendering 2D and 3D computer animation and the lower thirds of videos also use vector graphics.

Vector is the best choice for projects requiring scalable shapes and solid colors, but raster is the best choice if your project requires complex color blends.

Having trouble creating the perfect graphic? Or need help with a graphic design project? We, at Brightbulb Design, are a group of creative professionals with a vast knowledge of graphic design. Our team is here to assist you with your project. For more information contact us on 01983506505 or email us at .

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