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Vector Vs. Raster

If you have ever worked with a graphic designer, print shop, sign shop or promotional marketing company you’ve likely been asked to send your logo as a vector file. It’s possible that question leaves you asking, what is a vector file anyway and why does it matter?

Logos, illustrations and graphics of varying complexity should always print crisp and clear so creating them with a vector-based program like Adobe Illustrator ensures the resolution remains the same when resized. Vector graphics are made up of anchor points and a series of mathematical curves which results in a smaller file size. You will see vector files with these extensions: .AI, .EPS, .PDF and .SVG. One thing to note is you can combine vector art and raster art in one file however when scaled anything raster-based will not scale up past its resolution.

Raster images are created differently using bit maps to store information. All the little pixels used to create a raster image like a photo result in larger file sizes so they will take up more disk space on your computer. You can compress raster images to be smaller by removing data to make them suitable for web use but on the flip side it is not possible to enlarge beyond the original size. Enlarging will result in a pixelated or blurry look. You’ll find these types of files using these extensions: .JPG, .GIF, .TIF, .BMP

To sum it up, we need both image types when designing for print and web so one really isn’t more important than the other. It’s just important to know which direction to go with design based on the output required and this is where working with a professional can be helpful.