How it Works: Raster vs. Vector Formats

What is a raster or rasterized graphic?

A rasterized graphic is an image made up of pixels (little squares).  All of the squares are a set size and in a set place in the image, so If you make it larger it will be pixelated and not look good.

When would I need a rasterized graphic?

You would use a raster graphic when you need a smaller file size.  You generally would not get a raster graphic only from a designer.  You should get mostly vectorized graphics.

What is a vector or vectorized graphic?

A vectorized graphic is created with paths or vectors, therefore, the image can be as large or as small as you need it and still look good.

When would I need a vector graphic?

You would use vector graphics for your logo, business cards, and anything else that you might want to use again in the future.  A good designer would normally give you a .png (preview file & raster), a PDF for printing, and either an illustrator (AI) or photoshop (PSD) document so that you can make changes in the future (all vectorized, with the exception of photoshop).

A quick note about photoshop:  While shapes, paths & fonts are scalable in photoshop, anything done with the brush tool will not be.

Common raster formats: 

  • JPEG/JFIF
  • TIFF
  • GIF
  • BMP
  • PNG

Common vector formats:

  • PDF
  • AI
  • EPS
  • CDR
  • SVG
  • PPT

Raster Vs. Vector Infographic
raster-v-vector

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