Ever wondered why graphic designers use different tools for creating logos and editing images?
I myself used to get perplexed between Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator.
In this post, we will try to answer what is vector graphics and that will help you figure out the difference between vector graphics and pixel-based raster images.
Let’s jump right in.
What are Vector Graphics?
Vector graphics is a type of computer graphic that lets you create visual images and artworks using basic lines, points, and curves.
These geometric shapes are based on mathematical formulas that help to create lossless vector designs.
That means if you zoom a vector image you won’t notice pixelated edges as you will for raster.
For raster, graphics information is stored in pixels, so there is a limit to its scalability.
That’s why raster images show pixelated edges when zoomed in beyond a certain limit.
Up until the 70s, video game graphics were vectors. One classic example is the 1979 video game Asteroids.
Back then computers lacked the computation power to create raster images. But since the 1980s when raster graphics display came into the market vector image rendering was switched with raster graphics.
Now, vector art is preferred over raster graphics for responsive web designs and a lot more. All typographies and computer graphics (CG) in blockbuster movies are created by leveraging vector graphics.
Vector Graphics Examples
Now in case, you are wondering what kind of creative pieces you can create using vector graphics, here are a few vector graphics examples to keep you motivated.
Susanne Paschke uses vector lines and curves to create beautiful realistic illustrations. Yes, the process is quite painstaking but her nuanced creations can truly portray the capabilities of vector art.
She used thousands of vector paths to create a rough contour sketch of her illustration and then use them as a benchmark to choose the right color schemes to provide her illustrations a realistic look.
Orlando Arocena created the theatrical release poster for the 2019 Dumbo. The above image shows the granular steps that went into creating the poster.
Over 19 thousand anchor points were used to create the finished piece.
This piece shows the reach of vector art and its true potential.
Last but not the least, this graphic illustration of Darth Vader by Cristiano Siqueira portrays nothing is off-bound if you have ample expertise with vector graphics.
Spray painting effect, sharp masking, and intricate details can be achieved if you know your way around vector designing. The Force is definitely strong with this one.
All the above vector arts were created using Adobe Illustrator, however, there are many other Illustrator alternatives if you want to steer away from a subscription plan.
Where are Vector Graphics used?
Due to its lossless scalable nature, vector graphics have a ton of utilities. Here are a few areas where vector graphics are preferred over raster.
Creating company logos and Billboard designs
Company logos appear on company web pages, on products, and even on flyers and large billboards during ad campaigns.
So rather than designing logos and designs for different sizes, the wiser option is to go for vector graphics.
This is one of the reasons why movie posters and many commercial ad campaigns are also designed in vector for their scalability and reusability.
Designs for Responsive Websites/ Web Applications
Websites and web applications are accessed from a plethora of devices with varied resolutions. If raster graphics are used, 4K displays might render a pixelated version of the raster design while the normal display will work just fine.
So, to bring uniformity, vector web designs are the “one design fits all” kind of approach that will fit perfectly in this scenario.
Animation & Computer-aided Design
Computer animations use vector images and designs as it creates smoother and cleaner images. This adds clarity to animation.
For the very same reason, engineering and manufacturing designs use vector files to make their designs and blueprints scalable.
Almost all typography is created using vectors. This way typography can be exported to devices of varied resolution and can also be printed on any scale without any loss of quality.
Advantages and Disadvantages
Now that you know what is vector graphics, let’s find out their advantages and disadvantages when compared against raster.
Vector Graphics Advantages
- Create scalable vector art with clean lines and curves.
- Vector design files are lighter than their raster counterparts. Vector design files only store a small number of points and the mathematical correlation between them. So file size is generally small.
- Precise editing is possible.
- Vector graphics and are easy to clone and duplicate.
Vector Graphics Disadvantages
- Vector images have less depth and color detailing than raster images.
- Creating vector designs requires a lot of skill and time to master.
- Vector graphics are not supported in all browsers.
In Conclusion – What did we learn?
Now that you are well aware of what is vector graphics let’s run through what we have learned so far –
- Vector graphics are more scalable and lightweight than their raster counterparts.
- Vector art is used for web designing, creating logos, and computer animation, and computer-aided designing.
- Even though vector graphics have a ton of practical implications it is still difficult to learn and master.
- Adobe Illustrator is the gold standard for vector designing, however, there are many alternatives in the market which you can also use.
What is a vector in graphic design?
In vector designing, vectors are lines, points, curves, and shapes that are based on mathematical formulas. In comparison, raster designs are made up of colorized pixels.
Are vector graphics better?
Yes, they are scalable and lightweight. But if you want to create a design to showcase shades and intricate color variations, raster-based graphics will be a better option. That’s why in photography all information is stored in pixels in a raster format.
Is PNG file a vector?
No, PNG is a raster image file format.