Vector vs raster: what’s the difference and why it matters

However, the vector image is formed using a mathematical expression, lines and curves with fixed checkpoints. Contrastingly, raster graphics are ideal for displaying digital photographs, detailed drawings, and scanned artwork. The wide color spectrum of raster images provides subtle color gradients and complex color mixing, which are highly valued in print materials. A raster image is made up of small, coloured squares known as pixels.

  • These graphics consist of anchored dots and are connected by lines and curves, similar to the connect-the-dot activities you may have done as a kid.
  • The main disadvantages are that vector graphics demand professional design software and the ability to use it.
  • A vector image’s formulaic makeup keeps file sizes to a minimum in comparison to its raster counterparts.
  • Hence for images that need to scale to different sizes, we use vector graphics.
  • But having said that, there are reasons where using raster images may be the better solution.

Hence, they need to make sure their illustrations are scalable and can be enlarged or reduced in size as needed. Let us know if you’re a freelance designer (or not) so we can share the most relevant content for you. This article was originally written by Allison S. Gremillion and published in 2011. The current version has been updated with new information and examples. She is good at providing simple guides to use various video, office and entertainment software.

Vector vs. Raster – File Size:

When deciding how you will create your design, make sure to review the industry standard image formats and stick to them. You may also want to check with the intended printer (if applicable to your project) as some print shops may require a specific image format as well. Technically, it is possible to mix vector and raster data in the same image.

raster and vector graphics difference

Raster pictures are, therefore, the most suitable for use in photography. A raster or bitmap image is a two-dimensional digital file made up of pixels typically used to capture detailed graphics or digital photos. Raster visuals are usually defined by image width and height in pixels and by the number of bits per pixel, e.g., 640x480px.

When to use a vector format

Even though raster graphics have a broader color spectrum and allow for more complex composition with greater light and shading display than vector visuals, they lose quality when resized. Enlarging a raster picture will most likely cause it to become blurry or pixelated. The resolution of a vector file doesn’t change when scaled; therefore, vector graphics are better suited for design projects that require constant resizing.

These graphics consist of anchored dots and are connected by lines and curves, similar to the connect-the-dot activities you may have done as a kid. Because these graphics are not based on pixels, they are known as resolution independent, which makes them infinitely scalable. Their lines are sharp, without any loss in quality or detail, no matter what their size. These graphics are also device-independent, which means their quality doesn’t depend on the number of dots available on a printer or the number of pixels on a screen.

When you enlarge them, you’ll notice heavy pixelation, which can degrade the overall quality of your project. Vector images are scalable, so one version of a design will always work for every iteration of a project. However, vector images cannot display photographs in a natural looking way, and vector formats are not as well supported online as are raster formats. Vector graphics are also known as scalable vector graphics (SVG).

raster and vector graphics difference

This necessitates a vector source file since pixels cannot be scaled or altered as easily. When a logo is designed with any raster data, converting it to vector can be difficult and often impossible (see next section). In short, raster data here tends to lead to raster and vector graphics difference unusable logos and unhappy clients. The mathematical formulas that underpin vector graphics allow designers and content creators to scale these files up or down to any size they desire. Raster pictures are pixel-based graphics; therefore, they do not scale well.

A vector graphic’s small file size and scalability make it uniquely suitable for use in digital printing from business cards to billboards. They’re also used in lower thirds for videos, web-based objects and rendering 2D or 3D computer animation. Their native files are needed for coin designs, laser engraving, t-shirts, patches, etc. If your project requires scalable shapes and solid colors, vector is the best choice, but if your project requires complex color blends, raster is the preferred format. One of the main differences between raster and vector graphics is their file size. Raster pictures are large in size due to the number of pixels stored in them.

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