Vector vs Raster Files
Updated: Jul 28, 2022
With all of the image options and file formats out there, it can be a little overwhelming when you are choosing what file type to use. Compatibility is always a concern when you are working with different file types, but when it comes to graphics and images the type of computer graphic format you use is essential to how the image renders.
There are two types of digital graphics files – vector and raster. Vector images are made of lines and curves (or paths) to create an image. Raster images are composed of pixels. But how do you know what format is best?
Vector images, which are made of thin lines and curves known as paths, are rooted in mathematical theory. You may be able to identify a vector image by looking at its edges — a vector image will always appear smooth no matter how large you make it or how close you zoom in. Text is one of the most common types of vector image. No matter how much you increase a font’s size, for example, its look never changes.
The most common problem with using vector images is compatibility. Vector images are often saved as native files from the program used to create the image (such as Adobe Illustrator), which may not be available to you to open the file. As designers, we prefer this file type when we are creating signage, logos, business cards + more.
File types include: .Ai (Adobe Illustrator), .eps (Encapsulated PostScript), .svf (Simple Vector Format).
Raster images are often called bitmap images because they are made of millions of tiny squares, called pixels. You can identify a raster or bitmap image by looking at it very closely. If you zoom in enough, you will be able to see the square outlines of each pixel (especially around edges where there are dramatic colour contrasts).
Almost all of the images you find on websites are raster images, even those that may have originally been created with paths. Raster images are typically acceptable for digital publication but may not work well in printed projects. Often these files are saved as low resolution and are not suitable for print reproduction.
File types include: .jpg (JPEG raster format), .gif (GIF transparent file), .png (Portanble Network Graphic Transparent file), .tiff or .tif (Tag Interleave Format)
If you are confused to what file type to use, feel free to send them through to us and we will be able to tell you which file will be best suited for your requirements.