Vector Graphics and Raster Graphics Difference

Word processors and spreadsheet or presentation applications, although suitable for creating files for office or Internet use, are not recommended for creating digital art for print. Microsoft Office applications are included in this group. In some cases, however, such files may be converted so as to enable use.

Here are 2 examples of an image when magnified or scaled up. You will notice the difference in clarity. The mascot design below was designed by SpellBrand for a client.

Vector Graphics typically are generated using drawing or illustration programs (e.g., Adobe Illustrator) and are composed of mathematically-defined geometric shapes—lines, objects and fills. Since vectors entail both magnitude and direction, vector elements thus are comprised of line segments whose length represents magnitude and whose orientation in space represents direction.

Vector graphics usually are easily modified within the creating application and generally are not affected detrimentally by scaling (enlarging or reducing their size). Because vector elements are mathematically-defined, scaling simply requires modification of their mathematical locations. However, vector files do not support photographic imagery well and often can be problematic for cross-platform exchange. Vector graphics typically are saved as EPS format.

This makes vector graphics ideal for logo design. Creating a vector logo is more difficult but the effort pays for itself when the vector logo file is sent to printers or sign makers etc. The vector logo can be scaled up or down with out losing quality and would enable smooth transition between various media.

Raster Graphic Images are produced by digital image capture devices: digital scanners or digital cameras, or by pixel editing programs (e.g., Adobe Photoshop). Raster images are composed of a matrix (grid) or bitmap of digital picture elements (pixels). Pixels are squares or rectangles described as black, white, gray or color. Raster images typically are saved as TIFF format, but can be saved as EPS as well.

Whereas conversion from vector to raster is easily accomplished, raster conversion to vector is much more difficult (and often is not possible). Raster images typically are easily shared across various platforms, but can be more difficult than vector graphics to modify. As well, raster graphics are impacted by scaling.

Creating a raster logo design using Adobe Photoshop might be ideal for web only usage but if you are serious about branding, then the resulting raster PSD logo file will be of limited use. When sent to a printer or sign maker and when they try to scale the raster logo, the quality deteriorates and pixellation occurs. Yes, agreed, creating the raster logo design in Photoshop would enable a designer to pile on stunning effects (such as drop shadows, beveling, blurring etc). But the final deliverable will have limited uses.

Read more about different image file formats. Here is an indepth explanation of vector graphics.

Vector and Raster File Extensions

Extension File Application Vector Raster
.86v TI-86 vector file
.ai Adobe Illustrator graphics
.ait Adobe Illustrator template
.art Adobe Illustrator graphics
.cdl SignLab vector graphic file
.cdr CorelDRAW vector image
.cdrw Corel Draw file
.cdt CorelDRAW Template
.cgm Computer graphics metafile
.cht Harvard Graphics vector file
.cit SeeYou vector maps
.csh Adobe Photoshop shape
.csl Corel symbol library
.ctn Cadterns Sloper File
.ddoc Apple MacDraw vector graphic file
.dlg Digital Line Graph vector image
.do Digital Line Graph optional vector data
.drw Vector file
.dvg GraphicsWorks vector drawing
.dxb AutoCAD drawing exchange format
.emb Orchida Embroidery System embroidery pattern
.fh image file
.fh10 Adobe FreeHand 10 drawing file
.gcd Generic CADD Drawing format (vector)
.gem Ventura Publisher GEM vector picture
.gl2 HP Graphics Language plotter file
.hpg Vector image (HP Graphics Language plotter file)
.hpgl Hewlett Packard Graphics Language plot file
.ima EGO – Chart – Autumn Mirage vector graphics
.md Mayura Draw vector drawing file
.mvg ImageMagick proprietary vector graphics format
.odg OpenOffice Draw graphic file
.pat Corel vector pattern
.pat Pattern Maker Cross-Stitch Pattern File
.pat Polygon Attribute Table File
.pat Corel Paint Shop Pro Pattern Image File
.pat PCStitch Pattern File
.pat Smash Simulator Test Pattern File
.pat Cadterns Sloper File
.pat Orchida Embroidery System File
.pct Apple Macintosh QuickDraw/PICT bitmap graphics format
.pif Vector image GDF format
.pix Image Systems vector
.pix Inset Systems raster & vector format
.plo HP Graphics Language plotter file
.plot Vector graphics
.plt Autodesk AutoCAD HPGL vector graphic plotter file
.ps Adobe PostScript file
.sdw Amidraw vector image
.sdw WordPro drawing
.slddwg SolidWorks drawing 2D vector graphics file
.sp SignPlot output format
.spa FutureSplash Movie (Adobe Flash)
.svf Simple Vector Format
.svg XML based vector graphics format
.sxd StarOffice draw file
.tdr Top Draw vector graphic file
.vec Daylon Vectre vector graphic
.wmf Windows metafile
.xar Corel Xara drawing
.xar Xara X vector drawing
.psd Adobe Photoshop
.jpg JPEG Raster File Format
.gif GIF Transparent File
.PNG Portable Network Graphic Transparent File Format

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