What are raster and vector graphics?

What exactly are raster and vector graphics? A comprehensive answer to that question is technical and perhaps not easily accessible — read our blog post for evidence — so for the curious in a hurry, we here provide the short and more picture-plenteous version of the blog post.

Our preferred file types

Raster

A raster image contains so-called ‘pixels,’ which are tiny, monochrome squares. When a large amount of these is arranged in one area, the resulting kaleidoscopic collaboration comprises a graphic expression: the image.

The total amount of pixels in the area conveys the picture’s resolution and thereby its quality. The closer an area is populated by pixels, the clearer the image appears.

What’s unique about raster images is that their pixel amounts are immutable. Once a picture has been created with a certain pixel amount, this amount cannot change. Graphical information can never be added or removed without either re-creating or destroying the original picture. Hence, a larger image can never be created from a smaller one.

Since images used for logo purposes are typically needed in more than one size, raster images are ill-suited for such functions.

Vector

A vector file uses mathematical formulas to calculate and draw the geometric elements of an image. Contrary to raster files, it does not depend on simultaneous handling of millions of pixels but only needs to remember relatively low amounts of coordinates and line equations. These easily redraw the image to larger sizes and permit the separation and manipulation of individual elements.

The downside of this approach is that it cannot attain color depth sufficient to bring about realistic images. It does, however, make the images easier to alter and manage, and it is precisely this quality that makes vector the preferred image type for logo makers.

Identify your picture's file type

You have a picture and want to make a logo from it. But what file type is it? You can discover this by either determining the file’s extension or increasing the image size and observing to what degree its quality is worsened. A noticeable deterioration indicates that you have a raster file on your hands.

Below, we’ll look at file extensions and what role they play for different image types.

JPG

JPG (or JPEG) is a raster image often used for photographs on the internet. When saving them out of photoshop, JPGs can be optimized to find the perfect balance between size and quality. On the internet, you want your image files to be as small as possible to facilitate quick page loads, but still large enough to appear crisp and not pixelated, and the JPG is one of the best file types to that end.

PNG

PNG is another raster image type. The main difference between a JPG and a PNG is that a PNG can have a transparent background and is generally larger and of higher quality. With its transparent background, it can helpfully be placed over a colored background.

GIF

A GIF is another raster image type. It is formed from up to 256 colors from the RBG colorspace. The fewer colors and shades are contained in an image, the smaller is the file size. This makes the GIF ideal for images that use few solid colors and don’t have gradients or natural shades.

EPS

An EPS file is a vector file with a graphical item, text, or illustration. It can be easily edited, altered, and resized.

AI

An AI file is a proprietary vector file type created by Adobe that can only be created or edited with Adobe Illustrator. Illustrator is popular and often used program among graphic designers.

PDF

A PDF can contain both raster and vector files and have many use purposes beyond flat text and simple graphics.

Summation

Both files have their clear strengths. Raster is the preferred format for realistic and colorful image reproductions, while vector is the domain of the workaday, straightforward duplicates. Raster is used for photographs and is by far the most widely used image format on the internet, while vector is widely used for logo and icon design for marketing purposes.

Raster is mundane but cumbersome, vector is spartan but welcoming. In the textile printing industry, graphic designers prefer door number two, which is why we at Jet Sport choose to let only vector files form the basis of our logos. We know this gives the shortest production time, the most cost-effective products, and the happiest customers.