Vector vs. Raster Artwork

Posted June 2, 2016
Vector Image Example

Vector Based Images

Are made up of various “objects,” a term which essentially means lines and shapes. These objects are defined mathematically by a set of algorithms or formulas, which allow them to be redrawn over and over. This is not to say that using vector images requires any great mathematical skill, as the mathematics are handled almost entirely “behind the scenes,” by whatever software is using the image. Vector based graphics are resolution independent, making them the industry standard for printing. If your artwork is vector it will be scalable to any size and print at optimal definition.

Logos usually need to be separated from the background, resized, or otherwise manipulated. Vector images offer the most versatility for these purposes and therfore are preferred for printing on a large majority of InkHead products.

Suitable Format Use

What Happens When A Vector File is Englarged?

Vector Graphics Englarged

When it comes to being able to make an image larger or smaller without any loss in quality, the vector image is undoubtedly the superior format. Because the vector image is comprised of mathematically defined objects, rather than by a pre-ordered pattern of pixels, its size can be easily manipulated with little to no loss in the quality of the image. The objects within the image are simply re-rendered at a greater or smaller scale, providing consistently smooth edges at any size. Your logos print quality will remain clear and sharp.

Common Vector File Types

Common Vector File Types

.ai Adobe Illustrator
Default file type of Illustrator, a popular vector based program.
.eps Encapuslated Postscript
Vector file which can be opened outside of Illustrator.
.pdf Portable Document Format
Self-contained document which preserves vector images as well as fonts or graphics needed to display correctly.
.cdr CorelDRAW
Default file type of CorelDRAW, a popular graphics design program.
.svg Scaleable Vector Graphics
XML-based vector image format supported by modern web browsers.

InkHead prefers vector artwork in one of the following formats: .ai, .eps, *.pdf, and .cdr

*A PDF is generally a vector file. However, depending how a PDF is originally created, it can be either a vector or a raster file. Whether you opt to flatten the layers of your file or choose to retain each one will determine the image type.

Common Vector Drawing Software

Common Vector Drawing Software

Adobe Illustrator (.ai)

Is a proprietary file format developed by Adobe Systems for representing single-page vector-based drawings in either .eps or .pdf formats. The.ai filename extension is used by Adobe Illustrator.

CorelDraw (.cdr)

is a file format which was developed by the Corel Corporation and is used mainly for vector graphic images and drawings. The CDR file format is recognized by the majority of image editing programs.

Raster Image Example

Raster Based Images

A raster graphic or image is made up of pixels. Pixels are small squares of information. In order to understand what a raster graphic is, imagine a large grid that is made up of many squares (pixels) of all the same size. If you put a different colour in each square and then, you back away from the grid, the individual squares blend together to make up a picture. This is a raster graphic or bitmap graphic. Raster graphics are wonderful for rich, full-colour images such as photographs. Raster graphics are rendered images on a pixel-by-pixel basis and they are fantastic when handling shading and gradients.

Suitable Format Use

Raster graphics are great when creating rich and detailed images. Every pixel in a raster image can be a different colour therefore you can create a complex image with any kind of colour changes and variations.

CMYK Color Seperations

What Happens When A Raster File is Englarged?

Raster Graphics Englarged

Resizing affects image quality. Notice the visible blurriness, jagged edges and pixelation when enlarged. Raster based images are more difficult to scale, because changing the size requires a complete rearrangement of the pixels. Raster images are created with a finite number of pixels. When you increase the size of a raster image, the image increases in size however, because there are no longer enough pixels to fill in this larger space, gaps are created between the pixels in the image. Many graphics programs do an excellent job of reducing image size, but enlargements ALWAYS result in a loss of quality. An enlarged image is likely to appear blurry, grainy, distorted or even “pixelated,” meaning that the different pixels of the image have become visible.

Common Raster File Types

Common Raster File Types

.jpg Joint Photographic Experts Group
Sometimes displayed as .jpeg – this raster image format is best for displaying photographic images on web browsers.
.tiff Tagged Image File Format
Sometimes displayed as .tif – Raster image format best for high-resolution photos.
.png Portable Networks Graphics
Raster image format best for displaying simple images, supports transparency
.psd Photoshop Document
is a layered image file used in Adobe PhotoShop. A proprietary file that allows the user to work with the images’ individual layers even after the file has been saved.
.gif Graphics Interchange Format
Raster image format best for simple images made up of solid colors with no gradients.
.bmp Bitmap Image File
a raster graphics image file format used to store bitmap digital images, independently of the display device.

Although word processors, spreadsheet programs and presentation applications (such as the Microsoft Office suite) may be suitable for creating files for office or Internet use, they are not recommended for creating digital art for print. In some cases, however, such files may be converted so as to enable use.

Common Raster Image Creating Software

Common Vector Drawing Software

Adobe Photoshop (.psd)

an image file format which is native to Adobe Photoshop. While most people tend to use JPEG, BMP or PNG files for their everyday tasks, a PSD file can store a vast amount of extra information about the image such as layers, masks, color profiles, transparency, text, alpha channels etc. PSD files tend to be high quality reference images such as those used in website templates or for desktop publishing. They are also lossless meaning 100% of the image quality is maintained at all times where something like JPEG will subtly lose image quality after every save.

Gimp (.xcf)

short for eXperimental Computing Facility, is the native image format of the GIMP image-editing program. It saves all of the data the program handles related to the image, including among others each layer, the current selection, channels, transparency, paths and guides.

Why Image Resolution Matters

“Resolution” refers to the number of colored dots or pixels that make up an image. It is commonly expressed in dpi or dots per inch. The higher the dpi, the better the image/print quality. Images intended for full color printing need to have a resolution of 300 dpi

You’ll be notified if we encounter any possible printing issues should the submitted files not be up to standard printing requirements.

Vector Graphics Enlarged

If you have any questions about artwork, please call us at 800-554-0127 or Chat with an agent now » We are available 9am – 8pm EST.

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