Raster VS Vector Artwork

By Dane Lakin

A brief overview of these artwork styles and their differences.

When it comes down to printing artwork, it can be a confusing world full of weird file names and this ‘raster vs vector’ battle that you may hear. Not to worry! We’re here to help you navigate this minefield of terminology and help you get to grips with what you need to know about these two types of artwork.

Raster

These file types are made up of pixels which are small squares of colour in a certain pattern. As they are made up of individually coloured squares, the colours can achieve a great depth and are ideal if you want to achieve a high level of detail with plenty of definition, if you save it in high resolution. However, as they are made out of coloured squares, when these designs are scaled up they make the squares larger leading to a process called pixelation where the image starts to look blurry as the squares have only got larger and not added definition. Bare in mind though, when you’re making the images to a larger size with the high quality definition, each square will be an individual colour meaning your file size could easily start to spiral out of control. When it comes to file types, your most standard ones are JPG, TIFF or PNG files. Generally, when it comes to printing these designs, you are most likely to brand them using digital printing or embroidery.

As they are made up of individually coloured squares, the colours can achieve a great depth

Vector

In contrast, these files are made up of points and mathematical calculations to work out what shape and colour the object should contain. So, rather than it being an amount of squares dependent on the size of your artwork, this file type can scale to any size without losing definition, making it perfect for branding logos or text without losing the crispness. Plus, as it isn’t a defined amount of coloured squares, the file sizes are a lot smaller in comparison to their raster counterparts. But, when it comes to getting colour into these objects, there is no where near the customisability that there is with raster images, it’s mainly just gradients. Your most common file types for these artwork formats is EPS, AI or PDF. These artwork files are great for branding as you can do everything from spot colour print to laser engraving and embossing.

This file type can scale to any size without losing definition, making it perfect for branding logos or text without losing the crispness.

In Summary

Raster: pixel based object that doesn’t fair well when it comes to scaling but can have plenty of colour throughout but it comes at a price when it comes to file size.

Vector: A mathematical equation of points to create objects that are perfect for scaling and considerably smaller in file size but lacks the ability to have as much depth when it comes to colours.