What’s the Difference Between a Vector and a Raster Image?

Raster images are the group name for images files such as JPEGs, PNGs, Bitmaps, and GIFs. These images are made up of lots of pixels. The more pixels that you have means that the image can have a lot higher resolution, and that means you can have images in much more detail. It allows for shading, blending, and anything that can make an image look as realistic as possible.

However, when it comes to applying a logo to a physical product, it’s not usually quite so easy to slap any image onto an object. This is why you will hear us and other promotional companies talking about something called a vector image. A vector image is the same image, but is made up of solid shapes. When it comes to drawing logos, this usually is not a problem, as most logos are made up of solid colours.

Vector vs Raster Image

So How are They Different?

If you zoom in more and more to a raster image, you will start to see the individual pixels, and you will see a slight blur at the edges of shapes.

Vector images though are drawn differently. Whilst raster images are made up of pixels, vector images are made up of a series of mathematical formulae (or vectors, hence the name). When you zoom into a vector image, the formulae stay the same, meaning that the graphic remains the same no matter the scale. This is why makes it ideal for printing, whether it be onto a football, mug or shirt.

Because the quality of the logo is not affected when you zoom in, that means that with a vector image, you can print the logo on whichever size you like, whether it be small or truly giant. The only limitation is the ability of the printer itself.

 

Is My Image a Vector?

There are a few files that count as vector images. If your file is ended with .ai, .eps, .svg, .dxf, then these are vector images. There are occasions when a high resolution PDF will work, but please note that opening a raster image in Word, and then exporting it as a PDF is not the same. You are still just supplying a raster image.

If you are not sure whether it is a vector or not, our graphics team will be happy to convert it to the right format.

GOSH Rugby Gala 2015

Vector Images and Gradients

Whilst vector images are made up of solid images, and do not allow for blending, that does not always mean that vector images cannot have a blend in them. It takes some work, but there are some images that can be transformed into a vector. Have a look at this design for the GOSH Rugby Gala in 2015 that we helped bring to reality.

Please note that not all images with gradients can be converted into a vector image.

 

Brief Summary

Vector

  • Made up of mathematical formulae.
  • The files we and other companies will need for promotional printing.
  • Can be scaled to any size.
  • Can often not contain gradients.
  • Ideal for company logos.

 

Raster

  • Made up of a number of pixels.
  • Great for editing pictures, but will not work for promotional printing.
  • Cannot be scaled to any bigger than its original dimensions.
  • A more perfect image as can contain more detail than a vector image.
  • Ideal for paper printing and digital appearances, such as social media, emails.

 

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