Raster and vector are two file types we use to store digital images. The basic difference between these two types of digital images is that the raster image is formed using pixels. However, the vector image is formed using a mathematical expression, lines and curves with fixed checkpoints.

Like we mentioned above, raster images, or bitmaps as they are often called, are digital images that are made up of pixels. When you view a raster image on a screen at 100%, all the pixels combine to create the image. However, if you zoom in on it, you’ll start to see the individual colored pixels. Photographs are the most common raster images, but any digital graphic can be a raster. Other common raster images include 3D graphics, abstract backgrounds, and watercolor backgrounds.

Raster vs. Vector: What’s the Difference?

Out of all the software available, Adobe Illustrator is the most popular, and its popularity has led it to become the industry standard. Vector images also have the tendency to stand out with their attractive use of color, texture, depth, and layers. This gives businesses another reason to use them in their promotional content.

Raster images are ideal for detailed photographs and complex graphics. In raster images zooming in can cause some tiny squares (lose quality) to appear. Vector images represent mathematical calculations involving a point or place that form outlines or shapes(maintain quality.). Whenever one zooms over vector pictures, they look the same (infinitely scalable). When enlargement of images is performed without change of pixels, it looks blurry. If you add more pixels to the image the image becomes random and produces rarely excellent results.

Common Uses of Vector Images

When it comes to illustration, raster is ideal for photorealism and larger scale images due to the amount of detail possible. On the other hand, raster cannot be used for logos and are dependent on a high resolution when used for print. Vectors’ scalability make them ideal for design work consisting of logos and icons. Both logos and icons require immense detail and many size options, usually depending on their application. For example, you might use a logo on something as small as a business card or something as large as a billboard.

raster and vector image difference

Vectors are the appropriate choice in many situations, including logos, icons, illustrations, and more. Aside from providing the ability to scale up in size without losing quality, vectors also provide more flexibility. You can design an image in vector format and later save it as a raster image file if needed.

What Is The Difference Between Vector and Raster?

They extensively use logo creation, illustration, typography, iconography, and user interface design. In logo design, vector graphics guarantee a professional and polished look, which is critical for representing brands across multiple platforms and marketing materials. Additionally, illustrators find vectors indispensable in creating scalable and captivating artwork for books, magazines, and digital media. Converting a raster image to vector formats can be done, but in specific contexts. For example, converting a raster image to vector is best reserved for simplistic designs rather than photographs and portraits. Rasterizing an image changes the file from a vector format to a raster-based image.

Are you looking for human-powered (not a robot) image to vector conversion services? Transform low-quality or pixelated images into crisp, scalable vector graphics. A vector file, such as an SVG or Adobe Illustrator (AI) file, is composed of mathematical formulas that define shapes, lines, and curves. The popularity of vector graphics in typography stems from their ability to retain crispness and legibility even at small sizes.

Pros and Cons of Vector Images

You can use them for various marketing needs you’ll be facing in the future, either print or web. On the contrary, you need a particular size of a raster format to achieve a certain quality. Raster graphics are made up of pixels, which are tiny dots that carry certain color information, and, raster and vector graphics combined together, they form an entire image. Vectors, meanwhile, have math as their building blocks and, consequently, do not offer the type of nuance that rasters do. On the other hand, designs that are meant to be fully vector-based can become problematic when they contain raster data.

raster and vector image difference

When deciding how you will create your design, make sure to review the industry standard image formats and stick to them. You may also want to check with the intended printer (if applicable to your project) as some print shops may require a specific image format as well. Vector graphics are ideal for print designs due to the fact that they are resolution independent. Their infinite scalability and simplified shapes make them perfect for designs like logos that must be adaptable and easily edited for a variety of contexts. The computer simply recalculates the equations whenever the size or position changes. Raster is the default format for photography, video, and web-based media.

Raster vs. Vector: Final Thoughts

High-resolution vector images can be scaled infinitely without losing quality. However, despite their advantages in capturing intricate details, raster graphics have limitations in specific applications. For instance, vector graphics are preferred when images must be scaled up significantly without losing quality. Vector graphics use mathematical equations to define shapes, allowing them to be resized without sacrificing clarity.

raster and vector image difference

Image formats like jpeg and gif are common compressed image formats. Scaling down these images is easy but enlarging a bitmap makes it pixelated or simply blurred. Hence for images that need to scale to different sizes, we use vector graphics. It’s true that 72 dpi raster images are usually the norm for web publications and they work just fine. You should either work with a vector source or use high-resolution raster files. The latter option is often the preferred one, because, sometimes, vector images are not accurately printed.

When to Choose Vector Graphics

She keeps her focus on inspiring people and giving insight on topics like graphic design, illustrations, education, business, marketing, and more. If you don’t want to spend money, you can take a look at any number of the best free Adobe Illustrator vector alternatives available online right now. Among free options, Inkscape and Vecteezy are very popular programs, and both feature a lot of robust tools to make your best vectors come to life.

  • Adobe Illustrator (and most vector programs) does provide automated tools for image tracing, though the results can be somewhat random.
  • It is always going to fall short of the complexity and subtlety the latter provides.
  • Moreover, and more importantly, the time and energy that it will take to make a vector resemble a raster is not worth the underwhelming result.
  • Graphic designers and digital artists favor vector files for their scalability and precision, making them essential for professional design projects.
  • They often Some common vector files types are SVG and PDF files and are typically used for backgrounds, templates, and banners.