Vector vs. Raster Artwork


By:  Maya Miller

Have you ever wondered why your logo looks pixelated and blurry while another may look smooth and crisp? Has your vendor said they can’t use the logo you pulled from your website for a poster design? Why not? The answer is simple! Using vector vs. raster artwork in the right application is vital to keeping your brand looking sharp.

There is an appropriate time and place to use both forms of artwork. Let’s first look at the difference between vector and raster artwork.

  • Vector: Vector artwork uses math to create lines, curves and shapes that make up the desired artwork. The most common file format for vector graphics is an Encapsulated PostScript (eps file) that retains all vector properties when used.
  • Raster: Raster artwork is an image made from hundreds (or millions!) of small squares of color called pixels. Photographs are a common type of raster image. Raster artwork files are typically jpg, gif or png files.

Vector files are important to have and utilize because they are both editable and scalable beyond imagination! You can reduce or enlarge a vector file to any size (from business card to billboard) without distortion. They are also transparent, meaning there is no pesky white box behind your logo when it’s on a colored background.

Raster artwork loses quality or resolution the larger it gets. When you resize a raster image, the pixels just get larger, making the image appear distorted or blurry.

Obviously, there are times when raster artwork is the clear choice for your design.  Just keep in mind its limitations and be sure to use it only in applications where the size and resolution is controlled. For logos and illustrated elements, then vector artwork is the best option for maximum size flexibility while maintaining a crisp edge.