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The difference between vector and bitmap graphics. Why does it matter?

Posted by in Blog, Graphic Design

If you often work with graphic designers and professional printers, at multiple times during your career you will be exposed to the terms
“vector” or “raster” graphics. How many times have you been asked by a graphic designer or printer — “Hey, can you send me those logos and illustrations as vector files?”

Do you know what it means? Do you know why they ask you that?

Vector graphics are composed of geometrical paths based on math to represent images in your computer,
they take less space and they can be re-sized up and down without losing any quality. The most commun vector formats are .AI and .EPS
which can be both generated from editing programs such as Adobe Illustrator.

Vector graphic example

On the other hand, raster graphics or “bitmaps” are composed of pixels of various colours that, combined, form an image
that is bound to a certain size and resolution, this means that you can’t re-size them freely without sacrificing quality. Most commun raster formats are .jpeg, .gif and .png.

Raster  graphic example

Why is this important?

Well, if you send a raster file of your logo to a designer and ask him to increase its size and print it somewhere, you will be up for an big surprise.
The edges of your logo will look distorted, colours will be off and details will get lost. But if instead, you send a vector file,
the logo can be enlarged as much as needed and it will look exactly how you wanted it to look.

Now, how do you really make sure that your files are vectors?

To be 100% sure that your logos or illustrations are vector, you would need to open the file on an editing program such as Illustrator,
select the shapes of your file and verify the existence of its “editing nodes” and “paths”, they are the little dots you need to click and drag if you want your shapes to change.

Vector graphic nodes and paths

If you don’t have access to an editing software, you will have to ask the designer who built the logo or send it to another person that can check for you.

When having your logo design always make sure that you work with a design that can supply you with vector and bitmap versions of your files.