Vector -vs- Raster Graphics
Nowadays most Web Designers have to decide between vector and raster graphics on a daily basis. There exists some confusion over the use of vectors versus raster images, and what the difference is between the two since there exists some confusion over what they both are.
Simply defined, Vector graphics use geometric standards by which to determine shape, colour and form-since the word “Vector” actually means “line”. Every shape which is created in a vector package like Illustrator- solely depends upon mathematical equations and use points, lines and curves to define a particular shape. Traditionally, raster graphics (also called bitmaps) use a grid of colored squares to define shape and form and color – these squares are what are defined as pixels. Hence, Vector illustrations are comprised of objects and not pixels as most tend to believe. This has many advantages, one being that it is simple to change an object’s color -simply by clicking on it and selecting your preferred swatch. This presents a great option for people who are a bit indecisive about color, since changing the color of rasters can be a somewhat complicated.
Traditionally, Vector packages such as Illustrator have mainly been used for logo design, while raster packages like Photoshop are used for website layout designs. These days Photoshop also supports Vectors and Illustrator supports rasters and the choice amongst Creatives sometimes leads to indecision over which package to use. Most Designers prefer working with Illustrator, even when it comes to web design since they deem it quicker and more fluid to work with. It handles text, ( specifically paragraphs ), far better than Photoshop, and it can use paragraph styles, which makes it simple to change any “link” style. Also, one can insert photos directly onto it, and it handles bitmap files with ease. In general, it creates a much cleaner design.
Advantages of Vectors Over Bitmap Images
One of the most important and obvious plus points of vector images is their power of scalability. When one attempts to enlarge a bitmap image, their computer can only enlarge the size of the squares which make up the image area. This is why bitmap images become jagged as they are enlarged. However on the other hand- Vector images remain smooth because the computer merely re-computes the coordinates of the points and adjusts the vector equation constants. Each set of lines within a vector image represent separate and distinct objects; therefore every object can be re-edited at any time. For example, if one created a vector art file with a circle in the background, they could open the drawing file at any time – even days later – and alter the circle to a square.
Another very important reason for using Vector images instead of bitmaps is their size. Vector images are much smaller in size than a bitmap image format. If one had a very large picture – such as a poster on a wall – the vector file might only take up a few kilobytes of space on your computer, while the same image in a medium resolution bitmap format might not fit on a CD-ROM! Therefore, when it comes to Vector graphics, they are ideal for simple or composite drawings which require to be device-independent, or they are not required to achieve a sense of photo-realism. During recent years, SVG has become quite a significant format whose resolution is completely independent from that of it’s rendering device- which is typically a printing device or display monitor.
For printing purposes, Vector art is the ideal and preferred choice by professionals, since the art is made from a series of mathematical curves ( which we mentioned above ), it will print very crisply even when resized, in comparison to a low resolution raster graphic which would blur or pixelate excessively if it were enlarged from a business card size to a large scaled billboard size. High quality typography is nowadays based upon character drawings (fonts) which are typically stored as vector graphics, and are scalable to any size- such as Postscript fonts and TrueType fonts. Vector illustration has become a popular utilised technique by many digital Illustrators and Type Illustrators alike with the artistic quality being exquisite.
There are various sites all over the web which offer Vector graphics for Designers and design related purposes. Many of these sites offer Vectors at a price, however there are several sites which offer high scale good quality Free Vectors for use within any related design project- with no strings attached or sign-ups required and with over 11,000 Free Vectors, which make the possibilities for creation endless and the only limitations are your imagination!