There are two main types of graphic commonly used in design. These are vector and raster graphics. There are distinct differences between these two image types, this article will focus on vector graphics and the advantages they possess.
The core difference between vector and raster graphics can be found within their structural composition. Vector graphics are formed using points, lines and curves whilst raster graphics are made up of pixels that together, form the overall image.
The primary advantage of vector graphics is their excellent scalability properties. No matter how much they are enlarged they will always retain their original quality and crispness. They will never deteriorate! Essentially, the very same vector logo file could be used on a small business card as on a billboard in the city centre! There is one key thing to remember when scaling a vector in this way, and that is to always check the ‘scale strokes and effects’ option in Adobe Illustrator. As its name suggests, by ticking this option all strokes and effects used within the graphic will scale either up or down with the graphic. If you do not check this option, you could end up with a business card logo with a VERY thick and silly looking stroke, as shown below!
There are three main file types for saving vector graphics; these are .SVG, .EPS and .AI. All of these can be created using probably the most common vector design program – Adobe Illustrator. Some PDF files that contain vector graphics can also be re-opened in Illustrator and edited accordingly.
Here are a few more benefits of using vector graphics:
- These graphics create much smaller files than most raster graphics
- You can infinitely zoom in on vector graphics without losing any quality
- When creating 3D objects rendering shadows using vectors is the best option as the shadows can actually be abstracted in to rays of light from which they are formed