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 creating a logo or other illustrations is creating vector artwork from the drawings.
But what is Vector Artwork? How does Vector Artwork work better than other options for logos? And what makes Vector art valuable for things like Logo Design?
Let’s talk about that.
We can divide all Digital or Electronic Art 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. Tiny pixels make up each raster image. When you zoom into any raster image, you will see millions of tiny squares making up this picture.
For this reason, we cannot enlarge any kind of bitmap image too far above the size we made it without losing some 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) are commonly used for photographs. GIF is used for simple animations or images with a transparent background. We use pNG for Alpha-channel transparency, which means the edges of the transparent image aren’t as harsh as with a gif.
GIF and PNG formats are online formats with an RBG color profile. We rarely use them for print because print requires a CMYK profile.
JPEGs can be RBG or CMYK. You can set the color profile in a program like PhotoShop.
I created my logo on this website in Adobe Illustrator but exported as png. I also exported it as an eps, pdf, and jpeg for other uses.
Vector artwork, in contrast, remains perfectly smooth and pristine while endlessly enlarged. Instead of being created using tiny pixels, we create Vector artwork using Vectors or lines that 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, it can also export the image as a bitmap, for use on the internet. So, for example, I created my logo in Adobe Illustrator, but on my website, it is a .png file format.
SVG is a format for modern web browsers, and results in a smaller file size. EPS is a vector format usually used for print design.
When you hire a logo designer, make sure you let your designer know how you plan to use your logo. Ask them for copies of your logo in different formats you’ll need for different projects. Most people cannot open an SVG or EPS file, but you’ll still need them for professional printing purposes down the road.
The image below shows a detail of two dots in a graphic. One is a vector, and the other as a bitmap or raster, to show the difference. This image is from Wikimedia Commons.