There are way more types of image files nowadays than just .jpg and .png files. With so many formats out there, aspiring designers and photographers can get overwhelmed when trying to decide what type of file to use and send to their clients. One of the main concerns that you should consider is compatibility when working with varying types of files, but the top priority when it comes to images and other graphics is how the image renders. For image rendering, there are two types of digital files that matter: raster and vector. When it comes to rasterized vs vector files, they are very different. Vector images are composed of many thousands of paths and tiny lines so that it creates an image. Rasterized images are composed of pixels. So which one is the best option for your next project?
Vector images are created using mathematical theory to produce the curves (aka paths) and thin lines that appear to make up the image. These graphics must be created with computer software that is designed to make these types of images. In the computer software, the vector graphic lines have curves, line lengths, node locations, and node positions defined. This allows for color value to be assigned to any of the curves and lines in the image. Vector graphics are also able to be scaled and sized repeatedly thanks to the formulaic way that they’re created. This resizing doesn’t affect the resolution at all. You can tell whether an image is a vector graphic by examining its edges. This type of image will appear smooth no matter how much you zoom in. Text is a type of vector graphic; in fact, it’s the most commonly used type of this graphic. It’s a great example of how they’re able to be adjusted and not change in appearance. You can change the font size of a text, but the graphics are never altered. Besides not being altered, vector images are also efficient. They don’t take up much file size as they’re mathematical descriptions and are not made up of individual pixels. These factors play into them being much smaller than their counterparts. They’re extremely easy to transfer through the internet and from one computer to another. Most problems that are associated with vector graphics come from their compatibility. Vector graphics are usually automatically saved as files that are native to the program that you created them in, such as Adobe Illustrator. This means that if a client you work with doesn’t have that program, they cannot open the file. There are formats that you can save your vector graphic as that is compatible with other programs though.
Most businesses use vector graphics to create their insignias and logos. When they’re needed for print, they use the vector graphic as a basis for raster copies. Keeping your vector images is a good idea so that if clients ask for a different size, you can do it on the fly. High-quality and high-resolution clip art is available for sale, often as a vector image. Those debating on what type of image to go with will want to take into consideration that vector images that are clip art are less money than high-DPI images.
Rasterized images are also called bitmap images because that they are made from millions of tiny squares, aka pixels. If you zoom into your image, you’ll be able to identify it as a bitmap image. You’ll see the pixel outlined, especially around the edges of the image. Raster images are larger files thanks to their higher DPI, or dots per inch, and PPI, or pixel per inch, settings. These two attributes cause the image to be such a large file because the software has to keep track of each pixel and be able to render each one of them. Be aware of server and storage space when you transmit rasterized images.
Many images that are found on the internet are rasterized images. This is true even of the images that were originally created using paths. A lot of the raster images that are used for digital publication do not work when printed, as these files are often saved as low-resolution files. Low-resolution images do not turn out well when printed.
Knowing what type of images that you can work with will help save you a lot of time and even more frustration as you embark on working in the world of images and graphics. As you work on projects, be sure to evaluate how the graphic will be used and choose accordingly. The most important thing to remember is that raster images are for photographers and vector graphics are for illustrations and logos. Consider saving all the work that you do to save time on future projects. Check out our pricing on ALL printed products!