Learn about the distinction between vector and raster graphics, along with the three reasons you should always choose a vector logo for your design.
As a designer or marketer, it’s essential that you can distinguish between the features of raster and vector images. Raster graphics are used in an entirely different way than their vector counterparts. Rasters are used typically in photography and in online applications, while vector graphics are heavily used in branding, logos, and icons.
What are Raster Graphics?
If you’ve searched for a photograph or image on the web, or you take pictures on your phone, chances are you have interacted with raster images. Raster-based graphics contain minuscule pixels that define the colors, edges of shapes, and details in images.
If you zoom in on a raster image, you’ll notice those pixels become more prevalent and defined. As those pixels become larger, the edges and details become blurry and jagged. This “pixelation” is a key giveaway when figuring out whether an image is in a raster or vector format.
Logo via Brainstorm331.
Ragged edges and hazy lines are unsightly, especially in a professional logo. Raster graphics can only be scaled down to avoid heavy pixelation, which can seriously limit the application of your logo – what if you need it for a bus advertisement, or even a billboard?
To truly find out if a logo is in raster or vector format, take a look at its file name. Files that end with PNG, JPG, TIFF, PSD, or BMP are raster graphics.
What are Vector Graphics?
On the other hand, vector graphics are comprised of formulaic curves. Due to a vector’s mathematical makeup, each path, line, or curve looks precise at any size. These complex shapes and lines can be produced exclusively in vector-based programs, such as Adobe Illustrator or Sketch. Raster-based programs such as Adobe Photoshop cannot produce vectors.
Elements such as icons, logos, and typography are ideally designed with vectors to retain that crisp quality at various dimensions.
Logo via Brainstorm331.
To tell if an image is a vector look at the file format. Files that end in AI, EPS, PDF, or SVG typically contain vector graphics; the document can be edited within Illustrator if the files end in EPS, AI, or SVG.
Shutterstock’s collection includes tons of royalty free vector graphics available for download, like fonts, patterns, and illustrations. To view vector images exclusively, change the Image Type located under the search bar and select Vectors.
Now that you know the difference between raster vs vector, it’s time to talk about why you should use vector graphics when creating a logo. There are three main reasons why a vector logo is the right move.
1. A Vector Logo is Infinitely Scalable
A vector’s main advantage over its raster counterparts is its infinite scalability; vector logos can be scaled indefinitely to fit large print designs or scaled down to fit smaller formats. Vectors save the day when you need your logo to fit both a business card and a large display poster or billboard.
Algorithmic formulas make up the shapes in a vector, so you can scale logos up or down without loss of resolution and quality. Those sharp edges seen in the original vector logo remain crisp even when zoomed in or scaled to outrageous dimensions.
2. A Vector Logo is Easily Editable
In addition to being scalable, vector logos are easily editable. Perhaps you’d like to change the logo color or rearrange the logo components. In vector-based programs such as Adobe Illustrator, you can quickly change the hue of your logo within the Color menu or move those components around with the Selection Tool.
This ability to promptly make corrections or alter the logo altogether is especially important when dealing with clients or when working in a deadline-driven environment.
3. A Vector Logo Has Many Export Options
When working in vector-based programs such as Illustrator, you can easily export a single vector logo to any vector or raster format as needed. Simply hit Shift + Command + S to bring up the Save As menu; from there, you can save your Illustrator document to various vector formats (AI, EPS, PDF, and SVG). These formats are ideal when exporting your final draft of the logo or when sending out a brand package to clients.
If you want to send a draft of your logo or other design elements, you should export it in a raster format. Many clients don’t have access to vector-based software and won’t be able to open native vector files.
Bring up raster export options by heading to File > Export > Export As. Within the Format dropdown, you can choose from PNG, JPG, or TIFF. These three formats are universally accessed and often retain most of the quality when being transported over.
Interested in learning more about the basics of graphic design? Look into these articles:
- Everything You Need to Know About Vector File Formats
- 7 Easy Steps to Create a Logo for Your Small Business
- RGB vs. CMYK: Deciphering Color Modes for Print and Digital Design
- PPI vs. DPI: Demystifying the World of Online and Print Resolution
Cover image via vextor studio.