What are the differences between vector and raster graphics?

Posted April 7, 2016

Vector Graphics are print-ready, infinitely scalable images typically generated using drawing or illustration programs (e.g., Adobe Illustrator or Corel Draw) and are composed of mathematically-defined geometric shapes, such as lines, objects, and fills. These types of files are the industry standard for printing, and if you had your logo or design created by a professional designer, they should have access to these types of files. Vector graphics are what is preferred for printing on the large majority of InkHead products.

Raster Images are produced by digital image capture devices, such as digital scanners or cameras, or by pixel editing programs (e.g., Adobe Photoshop). Typical raster image formats include JPG, GIF, TIFF, PNG, BMP, among others. These images are only preferred for printing if the imprint method is full color – such as printing a full color photograph of your church on some hand fans. Large, high quality files are essential when using this type of file. Please provide us your artwork at 300 dpi (dots per inch) at the size you’d like the image printed. Example: Your logo will be printed on a water bottle at 3″ wide, so we’d need either print-ready vector artwork or an image at a minimum of 3″ wide at 300 dpi.

Here are two examples of an image when magnified or scaled up. You will notice the difference in clarity between the vector graphic and raster graphic.

Vector Image

Vector images can be enlarged without “staggering” or any loss of quality.
No matter the size of the artwork or print, it should appear crisp and clear.

Raster images often “stagger” or look blurry or
blocky when enlarged past a certain point.

Most of our products require vector artwork to ensure a quality imprint. 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.

Please note that if your artwork is not vector artwork and is low resolution or low quality we may have to spend extra time converting your artwork to clean, print-ready art, a time-consuming process which may delay rush orders. If we are unable to convert your low quality artwork, we may need to contact you and ask for a better quality image. Without a high quality image, we cannot guarantee a high quality print so we will always do our best to either convert your image to print-ready vector art or contact you with any issues prior to printing.

If you have any questions about artwork, please call us at 800-554-0127 or Chat with an agent now » to request an artist to assist you – we are available 9am – 6pm EST.


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