Raster vs Vector: Understanding Design File Types 101

Not all graphic design software or tools support vector image files. Some programs, like Adobe Photoshop, can open vector files, but they don’t offer the capability for editing vector files or creating new vector graphics files. For example, in Photoshop, you can open a vector image, view it, or print it.

  • Vector images are only compatible with Adobe Illustrator, CorelDraw, and InkScape.
  • When you create an image with Vector programs the file types will be .ai, .svg, .eps, .pdf, and .cdr.
  • For example, vectors are ideal for creating quality logos, illustrations, characters, business cards, packaging, print ads, and more.

Out of all the software available, Adobe Illustrator is the most popular, and its popularity has led it to become the industry standard. In general, it’s best to save your work in the current version unless there’s a specific reason for needing the file in a legacy version. Knowing when to use raster and when to use vector in specific applications is an essential skill for anyone engaged in graphic design. Notice I couldn’t upload because it was in .svg (vector) format. Raster graphics are of a fixed dimension, somewhat like a grid pattern with specified values at each point. These graphics are the default for things from the real world (IE, scanned images, photographs, etc).

Pros and Cons of Vector Images

Converting a vector to a raster is as easy as clicking a button. Technically, it is possible to mix vector and raster data in the same image. Whether or not it is a good idea depends on the project at hand. Their simplicity can also make vectors useful for animated graphics (even though the final animation raster and vector graphics might end up raster). Vectors can be used for illustration, and despite being stylistically limiting, they are capable of high geometric precision. Because vectors can be easily converted to raster, there’s no real situation when you can’t use vector graphics if the situation (and client) permits.

what are raster and vector graphics

A raster image can be edited in software like Adobe Photoshop. You should choose a raster file format when you’re working with a photograph, complex image, and for saving or exporting most other graphics that will be displayed online. However, the number of pixels in a raster graphic can also increase the file size. Those photos taken with a 20-megapixel camera will take up more space on a memory card or hard drive than photos taken with an 8-megapixel camera. Likewise, very large files can also decrease the speed and responsiveness of your computer when you are editing them, depending on the specs and capability of the computer. Vector images are only compatible with Adobe Illustrator, CorelDraw, and InkScape.

File Formats for Raster Images

This photo by taratata looks clear when viewed at a normal size. This article was originally written by Allison S. Gremillion and published in 2011. The current version has been updated with new information and examples. Get millions of stock images and videos at the best price
Unlimited access. To learn more about the differences, please see Raster vs. Vector. Design like a pro with an AI-powered editing platform for the everyday creator.

what are raster and vector graphics

Native tools in programs like Adobe Illustrator allow designers to create vector graphics quickly and easily. Apart from offering flexibility in terms of scalability, vector graphics also provide ease in duplication. This makes them perfect for businesses looking to create material such as logos, brochures, merchandise, and so on. Both are essential tools for digital designers and content creation professionals, but outside of art school, you might not have really heard of either of these terms. Unfortunately, not all file formats work with every app or software, so it’s helpful to think about potential uses for the file before selecting a format.

Raster image software and file types

Raster and vector are fundamentally different image formats, and getting them to look alike simply will not work most of the time. You will have better results when the source raster image is already made up of simple lines and color. On the other hand, designs that are meant to be fully vector-based can become problematic when they contain raster data.

what are raster and vector graphics

Playing with colors, optimizing image size, and keeping sharpness levels high are essential for everyone working with designs. I understand from prior knowledge that there are two different image format / composition options available for creating images; raster and vector. Generally speaking, there are also far more programs and apps that support raster formats compared to those that support vector ones.

Raster vs Vector Graphics: Differences, Similarities and Best Uses

This results in an unattractive, blurred image—at least, in most cases. Adobe Illustrator (and most vector programs) does provide automated tools for image tracing, though the results can be somewhat random. The computer simply recalculates the equations whenever the size or position changes. Moreover, and more importantly, the time and energy that it will take to make a vector resemble a raster is not worth the underwhelming result. As vector images are composed of mathematically-defined points, every change in color or tone would require you to create a new line, point, curve, and equation.

However, you won’t be able to edit the vector file without rasterizing it. A rasterized file will no longer be a vector file, and you’ll lose the ability to scale the image to a larger size without impacting clarity. While vectors offer a few distinct advantages over raster images, there are specific situations for a graphic designer to use each. For example, vectors are ideal for creating quality logos, illustrations, characters, business cards, packaging, print ads, and more. On the other hand, raster graphics are better for working with photos and complex images. Raster images are ideal for photographic images, as they can capture a great deal of detail.

The image below shows a comparison of how Vector and Raster images are created. It’s common to work with a mix of the two e.g. where you have a photo and other elements. With both of Adobe’s photo editing apps now boasting a range of AI features, let’s compare them to see which one leads in its AI integrations. Let us know if you’re a freelance designer (or not) so we can share the most relevant content for you. Designers, webmaster, and marketers that are starting out find it difficult to understand the difference between Raster and Vector graphics. License these images via Westend61 on Offset, Lithiumphoto, olga_wanderer, and oxygen_8.

what are raster and vector graphics

While a vector image file has many advantages, there are compatibility issues when shared. You must have access to vector-based programs in order to edit the native files. These online tools can help you turn pixelated raster images into smooth, scalable vector graphics. Raster images are compatible with all recognizable and popular software. This makes them suitable for mass use in multipurpose projects.

How Do I Know if My Image is a Vector?

This is a screenshot of the farmer’s face on the example vector logo from above, zoomed in as far as the computer would allow. No matter how far you zoom in on a vector image, you will always see smooth lines. Overall, it is important to ask yourself at the start of the designing process what it is that you are designing, and what style you are aiming to achieve. Whether it is a poster, book cover or logo design, once you have a clear vision it will be easy to decide to choose between a raster and a vector image. Using vectors in a raster-intended design is permissible because the whole image can easily be exported as a raster file.

what are raster and vector graphics


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