Why do I need my artwork in VECTOR format?

Date: 09-Nov-2018

Digital graphic files will either come in vector or raster format. Vector graphics, such as logo files, use intricate paths made up of points and lines to create an image. Raster graphics, such as digital photographs, are created using a grid of tiny pixels. This blog will explain the difference between these file types, so you can understand how this will affect your final branded promotional item.  

Vector

Vector files are made up of points and lines to create paths or curves and can be scaled up to infinity without losing quality. This makes vector files the best format for printing as your design is going to look the same on a tiny mobile app or a hot air balloon.  Depending on what the product you're printing on we can sometimes get a away with using a raster image. If your logo is going on a big t-shirt, there's nowhere to hide and you will see every imperfection of a raster file but if it's only printing 6mm high on a pen, it's not as much of an issue.

Difference between Vector and Raster artwork

 

You may notice that font files stay clear as they are all vector based. It is important when sending artwork to us that you do convert the font to curves / paths as otherwise if we don't have the font that you've used, our program will try to choose the next closest font which may be completely different.  When a font hasn't been converted, you can change the words as you type.  Once they have been converted to curves (also known as paths) it basically turns each letter into an individual picture. A tip when designing is to save your artwork as one version that you can edit and then save a copy as a curves file. 

Vector image curves

 

Raster

Raster images are made up of many tiny squares called pixels and are often referred to as 'bitmap' images. When zoomed in closely, the individual pixels can be observed. The resolution of a raster file is referred to as DPI (dots per inch) or PPI (points per inch) and is the main determining factor for increasing file size.

 Hi Res vs Low Res

 

All digital photography is raster-based. Most graphic files found online are also raster-based and saved for a screen resolution of 72 DPI, a larger file size is usually required for use in printed material where the standard resolution is 300 DPI.

File Extensions

Typically, you can distinguish between raster and vector formats by looking closely at the edges of graphic elements like text and logos. File extensions will also suggest which category a file will fall under, though there are always exceptions to the rule.

Raster       
.jpg    Joint Photographic Experts Group (JPEG)            
.png   Portable Network Graphics (PNG)
.gif     Graphics Interchange Format (GIF)            
.tiff     Tagged Image File Format (TIFF)            
.psd    Adobe Photoshop File            
.pat    Corel Paint File

Vector       
.eps    Encapsulated PostScript File (EPS)            
.svg    Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG)            
.ai      Adobe Illustrator File            
.cdr    Corel Draw File

Both        
.pdf    Portable Document Format (PDF)

Please note: Any of the above file types can be exported to a pdf format, so these files can be
either vector or raster or a combination of the two.  If you have a fuzzy .jpg file, you can't magically turn it into a vector file just by saving it as a .pdf.  The artwork needs to have started out its life as a vector file for that to work.