Vector vs. Raster Artwork

With numerious computer programs now available online to create digital artwork, it can be daunting figuring out what all the different file formats even mean.

When broken down, computer graphics can be created in two main file types: vector or raster. The difference between the two formats comes down to the composition of the file. Raster files are made up of tiny pixels, while vector files are made up of mathematical curves. Depending on what the file is being used for, one is better suited for the job.

Take a look below to see how you should use vector and raster files.

Vector Artwork

You can identify a vector image by looking at it’s edges, or zooming into the artwork. A vector image will always appear smooth no matter how large you scale it, or how far in you zoom. This is because the file is made up of mathematical curves and paths.

In the sign industry we request vector files for cutting vinyl decals due to the paths the file provides. These paths tell our plotters where to cut and print. Vector files are also great for large scale signage because no pixellation will ever occur no matter how large you need the sign to be. Raster files cannot provide this information.

Vector File Types Include:

  • AI (Adobe Illustrator)
  • EPS
  • PDF
  • SVG

Raster Artwork

Raster images are often called bitmap images because they are made up of millions of tiny squares, or pixels. If you zoom in to the file, you will be able to see each pixel. 

You want to avoid using raster images when creating and working with logos and illustrations. This is because they cannot be scaled for large format use, cannot be edited, and lose their resolution easily. They are best used for photographs and web use.

Raster File Types Include:

  • Photoshop PSD
  • JPEG
  • PNG
  • TIFF

Have Any Other Questions? We Can Help!

Have any quesitons regarding vector and raster files? We are here to assist you with any of your signage needs. Call, email, or reach out to us on any of our social media platforms. #SignItDoesIt