What Are Vector Graphics?

Are you new to the world of graphic design? Don’t worry, we’ve been there. Let’s start with the basics. To start, there are two categories of graphics you should know about: vector graphics and raster (or bitmap) graphics.

Vector graphics use mathematical equations to draw out your designs. These mathematical equations are translated into points that are connected by either lines or curves, also known as vector paths, and they make up all the different shapes you see in a vector graphic.

This allows vector graphics to be scaled to any size without sacrificing image quality as well as maintain a small file size. Common vector file formats are .svg, .cgm, .odg, .eps, and .xml.

Raster (or bitmap) graphics are made up of tiny squares called pixels. Once a raster graphic is created at a certain size (i.e. a fixed number of pixels), it can’t be scaled up without losing image quality. The larger the amount of pixels in an image, the larger the file size — they are positively correlated since the computer needs to store information on every single pixel. Widely used raster file formats are .jpg, .png, .gif, .bmp, and .tiff.

So now that you understand the differences between vector graphics and raster graphics, which graphics editor should you use for your designs?

Raster graphic editors are optimal for digital photograph editing because raster graphics are able to portray better color depth. Each pixel can be any one of the 16 million different colors available. But if you’re not working with digital photographs, Vector graphics editors would be your best bet for all other types of design editing, especially because vector graphics are able to be scaled and manipulated at any size with clarity.

It’s also important to take file size into consideration. If a smaller file size is what you’re looking for, stick with vector graphics. Raster image files can be quite large.since the computer needs to remember information about every single pixel. Choosing a graphic type depends on what type of design you’re creating. Have fun!


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