Vector vs Raster Images

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There are two types of digital graphics files – raster and vector. Raster images are made up of tiny pixels, while vector images are comprised of mathematical parts. The type of graphic you choose makes a difference in how the image displays.

Let’s learn more about the differences between vector and raster images and which files are best for which projects. You can use this information when working on your own website.

Vector Images

Vector images are made up of small lines and curves. Any of these lines or curves can be assigned a color value and then sized and scaled repeatedly without losing their integrity. So, if you have a vector image that is 400 x 400, you can increase the image as much as you want and it won’t lose its quality.

The reason why a vector image can be increased without losing its sharpness is based on its mathematical paths. Vector graphics are the best choice for print projects, such as when creating a logo or illustration. You have far more flexibility in how the files are used and saved.

When working with vector graphics, you’ll want to use programs like Adobe Illustrator or Sketch. Common vector images include:

  • .eps
  • .ai
  • .pdf
  • .svg
  • .sketch

Raster Images

Raster images, also called bitmap images, are made from tiny pixels, which you can see if you zoom in very closely. Raster images typically have larger file sizes than vector images, so this can be a concern if the images are sent electronically or need to be stored on a server with limited space.

Raster images are recommended when working with photographs. Photos taken with a digital camera or copied on a scanner are raster images. Plus, almost all the images you see on websites are raster images. Because they are generally saved with low resolutions, however, they are not good for print projects.

Popular editing software for raster images is Adobe Photoshop. Common raster images include:

  • .png
  • .jpg
  • .jpeg
  • .gif
  • .tif
  • .psd

Starting with the right file type for your images will save time in the long run. Raster images are best used for photographs and are the gold standard in digital photography. Vector images are favored when working with logos and illustrations that will be printed. The next time you update your website with new graphics and images, you’ll know the difference between these two types of digital graphics files!