Difference Between Vector and Raster Graphics

Difference Between Vector and Raster Graphics

In the world of modern graphic designing, there are broadly two types of image styling available for graphic designers;

-          Vector graphics

-          Raster graphics

Often the confusion arises for companies planning their graphic designing projects as to which one between vector and raster graphics should they use in order to achieve their goal. 

If you belong to the same club and looking for clarity of choices for your graphic designing services, then keep reading this article, as we’ll be discussing some basic differences between vector and raster graphics, and which one would help you with your business objectives.

But first, let’s understand the two types of graphic images individually;

Vector graphics

Simply put, a vector graphic is the creation of digital images through a sequence of commands or mathematical statements that place lines and shapes in a given two-dimensional or three-dimensional space. Unlike JPEGs, GIFs, and BMP images, vector graphics are not made up of a grid of pixels. Instead, vector graphics are comprised of paths, which are defined by a start and endpoint, along with other points, curves, and angles along the way.

differences between vector and raster graphicsdifferences between vector and raster graphics

A path can be a line, a square, a triangle, or a curvy shape. These paths can be used to create simple drawings or complex diagrams. And, because vector-based images are not made up of a specific number of dots, they can be scaled to a larger size and not lose any image quality. This makes vector graphics ideal for something like creating logo designs, which can be small enough to appear on a business card but, can also be scaled to fill a billboard.

A vector file is sometimes called a geometric file. Most images created with tools such as Adobe Illustrator and CorelDraw are in the form of vector image files. Many Flash animations also use vector graphics, since they scale better and typically take up less space than bitmap images.

Raster Graphics

Raster graphics (also known as bitmap Raster graphicsgraphics) are digital images composed of tiny rectangular pixels or picture elements, that are arranged in a grid (or raster) of x and y coordinates (includes a z coordinate in case of 3D) in such a way that it forms an image. Most images you see on your computer screen are raster graphics. Pictures found on the web and photos you import from your digital camera are raster graphics.

In the most basic terms, raster graphic images are all those images that you access and come across in your daily life. Simply scroll to the last picture you clicked from your smartphone; that image is a raster graphics image.

Unlike vector graphics, raster graphic images are made up of millions of pixels, commonly known as bitmap images. The file size of a raster image depends also on the size of the image, which is determined by the number of pixels being used in the image. For example, an image with a 1280×720 resolution will contain 921,600 pixels.

Difference between vector and raster graphics

Now that we understand the basic definition and application of both types of graphics, let’s list out the key differences between vector and raster graphics images;

Scalability of the image

A vector graphic image can be scaled without the worry of hurting the quality of the image. This is not true for a raster graphic image.  No matter how many times or to whatever extent the size of the image is changed, a vector image doesn’t lose its clarity and sharpness.

A raster graphic image, on the other hand, gets blurry (or pixelated) on increasing its original file size. However, if you want to scale down the size of a raster image, it won’t lose its original quality.

differences between vector and raster graphics

Resolution of the image

Remember when we discussed the term ‘pixel’? Yes! That’s how a raster graphic image is defined. The resolution of a raster image is defined by pixel per inch (PPI) or dots per inch (DPI) and is formed by a combination of millions of pixels. And, thus have a fixed size, once created.

differences between vector and raster graphicsdifferences between vector and raster graphics

A vector graphic image, on the other hand, is made up of something known as ‘path’. Millions of paths, defined mathematically in terms of ratios, proportions, width, height and, other dimensions, join together to form a vector image. Every time you resize a vector image, its lines, curves, and nodes are recalculated, so the resulting image remains sharp and clear.

Conversion of the image 

Due to the above-explained complexities, it is clear that converting a vector image into a raster image is much easier than the opposite conversion. This is simply because vector images are created using defined mathematical paths and require special tools (like the Adobe Illustrator).

File size of the image

Raster images are formed by combining millions of pixels and thus makeup to be pretty heavy image files.  Raster file sizes are defined by their DPI or PPI, fixed widths and, heights.

Vector images are handy in this case as they form pretty light file size per image, which makes them very convenient and efficient in transferring from one device to another. Additionally, they carry a lot of information in a relatively small file size format.

Compatibility of the image

Being the kind of graphics that are used and accessed regularly, the raster images are compatible with several kinds of image applications; such as .jpg, .png, .gif, etc.

differences between vector and raster graphics

Vector images, on the other hand, are a sophisticated set of mathematical paths and require specific software tools to access (such as Adobe Illustrator). The commonest file type for a vector image is .eps or .svg.

So, there you have it. Now that you know the difference between vector and raster graphics, we are sure that you may find it easier to decide which format to choose for any of your projects. And if you are still not sure, then GraphicsZoo’s dedicated and experienced team of professional designers are always there to guide you with your graphic designing services. We are just an email away. Connect with us today.