What is Vector Artwork?

In posts, I’ve written on my logo design process and how I create graphics and illustrations, I’ve mentioned Vector Artwork or Vector Graphics a few times.  Part of the process for creating a logo or other illustrations is creating vector artwork from the drawings.

But what is Vector Artwork? How does Vector Artwork? And what makes Vector art valuable for things like Logo Design?

Let’s talk about that.

All Digital or Electronic Art can be divided into one of two groups.

Bitmaps (or Raster Images)

The most common group used by people who are not graphic artists is Bitmaps or Raster Images. These are made up up tiny pixels. When you zoom into anything that is formatted this way, you will see millions of tiny squares making up this picture.

For this reason, any kind of bitmap image cannot be enlarged too far above where it was originally created without losing some of the quality.

Common bitmap file formats include .jpg (Joint Photographic Group), .png (Portable Network Graphics), and .gif (graphical image format). They each have specific uses. JPG (or JPEG) is commonly used for photographs. GIF is used for simple animations or images with a transparent background. PNG is used for Alpha-channel transparency, which means the edges of the transparent image aren’t quite as harsh as with a gif.

My logo on this website was created in Adobe Illustrator but exported as png.

Vector Artwork

Vector artwork, in contrast, remains perfectly smooth and pristine while endlessly enlarged. Instead of being created using tiny pixels, Vector artwork is created using Vectors or lines that are connected together by anchor points.  When clicked on, these anchor points can produce “handles” that allow the artist to manipulate the shape of the graphic.

Most common file formats for Vector Artwork include SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics), EPS (Encapsulated PostScript), and AI (Adobe Illustrator). When a graphic artist creates a graphic in a Vector design program like Adobe Illustrator, the image can also be exported as a bitmap, to be more easily shared or used on the internet. So, for example, my logo was created in Adobe Illustrator, but on my website, it is a .png file format.

When a graphic artist creates a graphic in a Vector design program like Adobe Illustrator, the image can also be exported as a bitmap, to be more easily shared or used on the internet. So, for example, my logo was created in Adobe Illustrator, but on my website, it is a .png file format.

SVG is a format that can also be used in modern web browsers, and results in a smaller file size.

An Example

The image below shows a detail of two dots in a graphic. One is done as a vector, and the other as a bitmap or raster, to demonstrate the difference. This image is from Wikimedia Commons.

 

Vector vs raster

This post may contain affiliate links, which means I would get a small commission on each purchase you might make from clicking on my links. You can find out more about the ads on my site on my disclosure page.
 

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