Raster vs. Vector graphics

June 15, 2010

What is a raster (bitmap) graphic?

A raster graphic or image is made up of pixels. Pixels are small squares of information. In order to understand what a raster graphic is, imagine a large grid that is made up of many squares (pixels) of all the same size (see image below). If you put a different colour in each square and then, you back away from the grid, the individual squares blend together to make up a picture. This is a raster graphic or bitmap graphic. Raster graphics are wonderful for rich, full-colour images such as photographs.  Raster graphics are rendered images on a pixel-by-pixel basis and they are fantastic when handling shading and gradients.


Advantages of raster graphics:

* Raster graphics are great when creating rich and detailed images.  Every pixel in a raster image can be a different colour therefore you can create a complex image with any kind of colour changes and variations.

* almost any program can work with a simple raster file. The most recognized application that handles raster graphics is Adobe Photoshop however there are also several other image editing software options out there for you to choose from.

Disadvantages of raster graphics:

* Raster images cannot be scaled up in size very well. If you do try to enlarge a raster image, it will look grainy and distorted. This is because raster images are created with a finite number of pixels. When you increase the size of a raster image, the image increases in size however, because there are no longer enough pixels to fill in this larger space, gaps are created between the pixels in the image. The photo editing software that you are using will try to fill these gaps the best they can however, the resulting image is often blurry.

* Raster graphics files are often quite large. Raster graphics files contain all the information for every single pixel of the image that you are working with. Each of these pixels has an X and Y coordinate as well as colour information associated with it therefore raster graphics files tend to be very large. Also, because these raster images hold so much data, they may be slower to edit.

* Raster graphics are not great for embroidery. Because raster images are based on square pixels, your embroidery may look like it has jagged edges. If you want to embroider an image with smoother edges, it is best to use vector graphics instead of raster graphics.

What is a vector graphic?

Vector graphics are based on mathematical formulas. A vector graphic is made up of a series of small points that combine together to make lines and images. The most recognized applications which handle vector based graphics are Adobe illustrator, Macromedia freehand and Corel draw. Vector graphics are generally used for line art, illustrations and embroidery.

Advantages of vector graphics:

* Vector files are small because they contain a lot less data than raster files.

* Vector graphics are more flexible than raster graphics because they can be easily scaled up and down without any loss to the quality of the image.

* Vector graphics have smoother lines when compared to square, pixel-based raster graphics therefore, they are better with straight lines and sweeping curves than raster graphics.

Disadvantages of vector graphics:

* If there are small errors or faults in a vector graphic, these will be seen when the vector image is enlarged significantly.

* Vector graphics are generally filled with a solid color or a gradient. They can’t display the lush color depth of a raster graphic.

At Pixellogo, our logo templates, business cards and stationery are available for purchase in vector and raster file formats. This makes the files that you purchase easier to use no matter what type of file format you need. Our 3D logo templates are available as raster graphics.


To see how they work, you can download these free logos from Pixellogo.

free logos


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