HOW DOES IT WORK?
What Do We Know About Vector Images?
Vector image files store visual data according to mathematical coordinates, mapping out a series of points, lines, and shapes to create a complete image. Vector graphics are infinitely scalable and ideal for various uses — from the smallest web icon to the largest billboard. Vector file sizes are typically smaller, enabling easier file storage and faster load speeds.
Although designers and artists love vector graphics for those reasons, there are still some circumstances where choosing a different image format makes more sense.
While vector graphics are great for many digital design projects, there are certain instances where you’ll need a raster image to achieve the right outcome. There are several differences between raster and vector formats, from storing data within the files to ideal use cases.
How Do Raster Graphics Work?
The file storage method is one of the main differences between raster and vector images. Raster graphics store visual information as a two-dimensional map of pixels, also known as a bitmap. Zoom in on a raster image, and you’ll see the information it stores — data about the color of each pixel. Zoom out, and the pixels appear to blend seamlessly to create an image. By contrast, zooming in on a vector image will not allow you to see individual pixels but the smooth shapes and curves of the elements in the image. The most common raster image file extensions include:
- GIF (Graphics Interchange Format)
- JPG (Joint Photographic Experts Group)
- PNG (Portable Network Graphics)
What Are the Advantages of Using Raster Graphics?
Raster graphics allow for incredibly detailed, crisp, clear images — as long as files are exported at a high resolution and displayed on a high-resolution screen.
Raster images are also easy to edit, and common software widely supports their file formats. One trade-off is that high-resolution raster image files tend to be quite large and take up a lot of memory on hard drives and cloud storage apps.
Are Raster Images Better Than Vectors?
It really isn’t fair to say raster images are better than vector graphics — or vice versa, because both have pros and cons. The main question to ask is not which is better overall but which is better for your specific needs and projects.
The reality is that graphic designers have to choose raster vs. vector on a case-by-case basis. Some projects need the scalability of a vector graphic, and some projects need the high resolution of a raster image. That’s why brands like CorelDRAW and Adobe offer suites of products — to equip designers with the tools they need for any digital project.
Understanding the difference between raster and vector programs and mastering the ins and outs of raster vs. vector image formats will help you create your best digital work.