The difference between Raster and vector art and graphics–their importance–common apps to use

Raster and vector are the two digital graphic files. They are different and are used based on specific projects.

On this post, I will be going over the two digital graphic files, raster and vector. Digital graphics come in two forms, as a vector image or a raster image.

How raster images are made

Raster images/ graphics are made up of pixels. These are tiny little squares that all come together to make up an image. For example, digital photos. Our digital photos are made up of tiny pixels. The more the pixels, the more detailing. That’s why in mobile phone adverts they talk about the cameras able to take pictures in so and so amount of megapixels. Think of raster images like jigsaw puzzles. When viewed from a distance, it’s a whole one picture but when you zoom in, the image is made up of little pieces that you’ve fit together.

How vector images are made

Vector images are made of curves and shapes that can be scaled larger or smaller, so to do this, they are based on mathematical calculations.

OK, now what??

Just like jigsaw puzzles, when zoomed into raster graphics, you see those tiny squares, also when raster images are enlarged they become pixelized. That’s why raster programs are used when there is a specific size

Raster and vector graphics: differences between, their importance + common programs to achieve them

First frame: when raster image is enlarged. Second frame: when vector image is enlarged.

With vector graphics on the other hand, the artist or graphic designer is able to scale the image large, without affecting the quality of the image. With vector image, they cannot be pixelized. That is why graphics such as logos are done using vector programs, because, logos are not used in a particular size. Logos can be on letter heads, that is, they are printed on paper (most times at a little corner), they can also be on a company’s website and other places. In other words, there is a need to reduce and increase the size of this graphic (in this case, a logo) depending on where it is used on.

You are probably thinking, well, I’ll just use vector programs then, but, raster programs have their benefits too. Raster images usually contain more details, with this, raster programs are best for artworks with lots of blending of colours involved and for editing photos. This is because each pixel is able to be modified.

Graphic designers and illustrators that want the benefits of raster programs have to work with the right canvas size. As a graphic designer that specialises in bookcover designing, I size my canvas according to the size of the book and cover to be in pixels. This way I am sure of the image quality when it’s eventually in hard copy.

To calculate in pixels, consider what ppi the image would be printed out in, say 300ppi (most printers only accept this) and you want the image to cover 8 inches of space in width, the width in pixels will be 300 × 8, that is 2400 pixels. Your canvas width should be at least, 2400 pixels or over, if it’s less, your image might come out pixelized if it has to cover 8 inches.

Graphics that can be made using raster programs

1. Detailed illustrations

2. Editing digital photographs
3. Graphics with specified image sizes

Common raster image formats include: Paint brush (pcx), Windows Bitmap (BMP), Graphics Interchange format (GIF), Portable Network Graphic (png), Adobe Photoshop (psd), Tag interleave format (TIFF), Corel Photo paint (CPT), Joint Photographics experts group (JPEG).

Raster programs include;

1. Autodesk sketchbook
2. Adobe Photoshop
4. Artweaver
5. Corel painter
6. paint.NET

7. Infinite Painter

Graphics that can be made using vector programs

1. Illustrations
2. Illustrations for physical products
3. Logos
4. Large scale graphics like banners
5. Small file sized graphics

Common vector image formats include: Encapsulated Postscript (EPS), Adobe illustrator (AI), Corel Draw (CDR), Scalable vector graphics (SVG), Printed Document Format (pdf).

Vector programs include;

1. Adobe Illustrator
2. Sketch app
3. Corel Draw
4. Infinite design

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I hope this helped, if you have any questions concerning the topic, I’m willing to be of help, please leave it in the comment section.

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