The difference between vector and raster images


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!


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

Based in San Francisco, Allison (Alli) Stuart works as Head of Community Marketing at 99designs. When she's not writing articles 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!

  • Regulagedda Sivakumar

    does google earth image is raster image or vector image?


      Raster. They take different images at different resolutions. Vector images are made of lines and can therefore be scaled.

  • Graeham Douglas

    Vector images are better for logos, but if you’re stuck with a raster, you can resize it in Photoshop, GIMP or using a higher-order interpolation method to reduce the loss of detail.

    (Disclosure: is an web-based app I’ve made, but its free to use)

  • Aman Gupta

    To know everything about Raster and Vector Visit ….!!##!!

  • Stephen Fraser

    This is a helpful ready reckoner to assist folk like me – working for a non-profit means I quite often have to bodge designs and I’ve just had a banner design flagged to me by the printer because the text used in Photoshop was rasterised, and not vectored. Note to self means that next time I’m pulling something like this together, I’ll use Inkscape instead. Your blog posting helped me understand what the problem was – thanks.