What is Vector Artwork?

Vector Graphics cover image

Signage and printing companies will often specify that you supply them with your logo or other artwork in vector format. Unfortunately many people who are not in the industry, and even some who work as graphic designers, are unclear on the difference between vector graphics and raster or bitmap images.

In this article I hope to explain a little about both image types and hopefully clarify the difference between the two formats.

So what is vector artwork?

In short, vector graphics are images created with mathematical formulas while raster images are created with pixels.

Real examples of bitmap images would be the pictures you take with your phone or camera, you will also find that most of the images on the web are bitmaps. The images created with Adobe Photoshop or other paint software will also be raster images. The most common file formats for bitmaps or raster images are JPEG and PNG, although there are many more.

Vector graphics are images created with draw programs like Adobe Illustrator or CorelDraw. The SVG (Scaleable Vector Format) is a vector file format created for the web. The common vector file formats include AI, CDR, EPS, and SVG.

The difference between raster and vector artwork

If you enlarge a bitmap image, it will begin to pixelate and look fuzzy. The more you enlarge, the further the quality deteriorates. Vector graphics on the other hand, can be enlarged to any size without affecting the quality or appearance.

vector art image
Original Image
enlarged raster image
Enlarged Raster Image
enlarged vector image
Enlarged Vector Image

In addition, there is usually a big difference in the image file sizes of vectors and bitmaps. If the images are being used for large applications, the file size of vector art will be considerably smaller than a bitmap image.

Vector graphics are not a substitute for photos though, and are not suitable for images with complex gradients. In these cases images will need to be saved in a bitmap format.  Logos, icons, graphics and illustrations will benefit if saved in vector format.

The fonts used in your artwork can also be converted to “outlines” or “curves” (if you’re working with Corel). This means that there will be no font dependencies and the fonts are converted to vector graphics. By converting fonts to outlines you will prevent any unwanted font substitutions. It’s important to remember that if fonts are converted to “outlines”, the text will no longer be editable if you need to make changes.

Get your logo in vector format

You should be able to request your artwork in vector format from your graphic designer, as the chances are it was created with a vector graphics program.

If a professional graphic designer is creating a logo or other artwork for you, it’s a good idea to check what file formats they will supply. For logos they should supply you with both vector and high resolution bitmap formats.

If you are unable to get your logo in vector format you will need to hire a professional to recreate or redraw the artwork to vector for you.

Need help?

We’d be glad to assist. Get in touch with us or take a look at our services page for more information and pricing. We supply our vector artwork in all the common vector formats, AI, EPS, CDR, and SVG.

Cimeron Collins profile image

Cimeron Collins

Cimeron is an artist and designer with more than 25 years experience in the printing and publishing industries. He lives in Edenvale, South Africa with his wife Tamay.

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