The difference between vector and raster images

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To use a vector or raster image? That is the question… and the answer really depends on what you’re using the design for. In this article, we’ll discuss the important differences between vectors and rasters as well as when to use each of them.

Vector images

Vector images are made up of basic geometric shapes such as points, lines and curves. The relationship of the shapes is expressed as a mathematical equation which allows the image to scale up or down in size without losing quality.

Logo designs and print work such as brochures and posters should be designed as vector images using vector drawing software like Adobe Illustrator, Corel Draw or Inkscape.

Vector File

 Raster images

Raster images are made up of a set grid of dots called pixels where each pixel is assigned a color value. Unlike a vector image, raster images are resolution dependent.

When you change the size of a raster image, you shrink or stretch the pixels themselves which can result in a significant loss of clarity and very blurry image. Raster editors such as Photoshop or GIMP are great for photographs as well as for adding effects, shadows and textures to designs.

Raster File

What does this mean for you as a designer on 99designs… use the right software to create the right image for the the job!

Applications

Use Adobe Illustrator, Corel Draw, Inkscape or an equivalent to create vector images for:

  • Logo Designs
  • Illustrations
  • Brochures
  • Posters
  • T-shirts
  • or anything to be printed

Use Adobe Photoshop, GIMP or an equivalent to create Raster Images for:

  • Web Design
  • Editing Photographs
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Based in San Francisco, Allison (Alli) Stuart works as Community Manager at 99designs. When she's not writing blogs and communicating with designers, she is working on her Children's Book. She also enjoys extreme sports, like sky diving and traveling to new places. Alli has a Fine Arts Degree with a concentration in Graphic Design from Louisiana State University, her home. Geaux Tigers!