Vector vs raster: what’s the difference and why it matters

These terms can sound confusing if you’re not familiar with computer graphics, but we’re here to explain everything you need to know. Finally, remember that you can always turn a vector graphic into a raster file with ease. Ever notice that as you zoom into an image, the quality gets lower? They are usually in the formats JPG (lossy), GIF (lossless), PNG (my favorite; lossless), and many others. Raster images are just grids of pixels, like what comes out of a digital camera or a scanner. I understand from prior knowledge that there are two different image format / composition options available for creating images; raster and vector.

raster and vector difference

The most popular raster editors are Photoshop (which has limited vector capabilities) and GIMP. If you don’t want to spend money, you can take a look at any number of the best free Adobe Illustrator vector alternatives available online right now. Among free options, Inkscape and Vecteezy are very popular programs, and both feature a lot of robust tools to make your best vectors come to life. Due to their algorithmic makeup, vectors are infinitely scalable, and remain smooth and crisp even when sized up to massive dimensions. While the former is easier to edit, the lack of detail in these images means that they might not be suitable for use in high-resolution professional contexts like advertising or marketing materials.

Data management

Vectors are ideal for large or small format prints, because rasterized designs will lose quality when resized. They’re made of paths and curves dictated by mathematical formulas. These paths and curves are produced exclusively through design softwares designed for vectors, like Adobe Illustrator or Sketch. Raster graphics are composed of a rectangular array of regularly sampled values, aka pixels. Each pixel will translate into an area of illumination on a display screen, and its color will be dictated by the color code it’s assigned. So, if you need a realistic and detailed image, then a raster image is probably your best choice.

In this compact and universal format, files render as they were created. Vector images are rendered as such as and be scaled and extracted. Fonts are embedded within a file and are rendered as type, not flattened as an image element. Raster images, such as photos will appear as intended at 100 percent but will start to lose quality if they are over-enlarged.

& Influence on the UI Design World

In the image above, the photograph is best seen in a raster format. The vector version of the image is much more simplified, as vector programs will visualize the graphic in groups of solid colors. raster and vector graphics difference To edit these images, you need access to raster-based programs like Adobe Photoshop or Shutterstock Editor. For design work, it’s best to use these programs for photography and imagery only.

raster and vector difference

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