The difference between Vector and Raster graphics

Today we’re going to talk about the difference between Vector and Raster graphics. Both can be used for printing however they do create slightly different results. To know the differences, first, we need to know what they both are.

Vector Graphics

Vectors in graphic design are not the same as vectors in physics. In graphic design, mathematical equations or shapes are used to create the images being used e.g. for printing. Therefore they don’t lose any quality when being resized as the calculations used to make the image can be made bigger or smaller. This would show the exact same image with the exact same quality just at a different size. This also makes the file size smaller as only the shapes needed are saved and any unnecessary data is removed. A smaller file size also helps the file load faster and take up less storage. 

Raster Graphics

On the other hand, Raster graphics store information using pixels. A pixel is a tiny coloured square that together with thousands if not millions of others makes an image. The larger the image the more pixels there are in an image. This greatly increases the file size as data about every single pixel needs to be stored. However, these files can be compressed to reduce the file size. Making the image smaller does not reduce the quality of an image (if anything it increases it) whereas making the image bigger does. This is because every single pixel’s size is increased which makes the image look “pixelated” as you can see each individual pixel more clearly. This results in the curves in the image not looking as smooth as they should be.

The difference can be clearly seen here (Vector at the top, Raster at the bottom).

Which do we use

At Centurion graphics, we prefer to use Vector graphics because, when printed, you get a sharper result than with Raster graphics. This is because when we print the images, it comes out more pixelated than a smooth vector image. However, Raster graphics still work and we are more than happy to use it if is the only available option.