If you are a graphic designer or use images everyday then you must know the difference between raster and vector images.
As we know both of these are images and looks very similar. But if you are going to order a logo for your business you must ask for vector file of logo from graphic designer.
Because of the main difference between raster and vector graphics and that is when you resize larger to bitmap images those will lose quality while this is not true for vector image files.
This is because vector images are made of shapes while bitmap images are made of pixels.
What are Bitmap Images?
Bitmap images also known as raster graphic made up of smallest possible units (pixels).
Color information of each pixel also known as color depth stored in bits. These bits are mapped out in rows and columns.
Different colored pixels together form an image. In the simplest form bitmaps have only two basic colors i.e. black and white. These black and white pixels form black and white images.
Colored photographs contains many color pixels. A high-quality image may have millions of pixels.
So, in case of bitmap image when you start zooming image it will be pixelated or distorted. And you can see every pixel of the image.
If you want to resize the quality of the picture will be affected. Common bitmap image formats are JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP and PCX etc.
Bitmap images are made with programs like Adobe Photoshop. These types of images are suitable for photographs.
What are Vector Images?
Vector images also known as object-oriented graphics. These images are not made up of pixels but made up of mathematical formulas like shapes, curves, lines and text.
In case of bitmap image, the information about the color of each pixel is stored in image but in case of vector art the information about where to place each component is stored in image.
If you start zooming vector image, it will not be distorted so you can resize image without affecting its quality.
Common vector file formats are EPS, WMF, AI, CDR and SVG.
These types of images are made with CAD, GIS applications, Adobe illustrator and with drawing programs like Freehand.
To describe vector graphics in XML the SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics) language is used.
These graphics are best suitable for logos, clipart, icons etc. You can download free vector images from websites like Pixabay.
Difference between Raster and Vector Graphics
|Raster Graphics||Vector Graphics|
|Graphics made up of pixels||Graphics made up of Shapes|
|Loses quality when size changed||Does not lose quality even when size changed|
|Common file types are .jpeg, .png, .gif, .tiff, .psd etc.||Common file types are .eps, .ps, .svf, .cdr, .ai, .svg etc.|
|File size is greater||File size is smaller|
|Editing of bitmap images is possible to some extent. Loses quality after a certain limit||Editing of vector art is easy and quality does not affected|
|Restricted to square or rectangular shape||Not restricted to any shape and can be of any shape|
|Suitable for photographs and images where resizing not required||Suitable for logos, clip-art, icons and abstract images|
|Editing programs like Adobe Photoshop can be used to edit||Editing programs like Adobe Illustrator can be used to edit|
|Raster to vector conversion is bit difficult||Easy to convert vector graphics to bitmap|
Which one is better (Raster vs Vector)?
Now let’s talk about which one is better bitmap or vector images. Here vector format images are better because these images are resolution independent.
It means these can be resized without loss of quality.
While on the other hand bitmap images are not resolution independent. It means when you will try to change size you will suffer with quality of image.
The other factor which you can consider while choosing between the two is size.
The size of vector images is less than that of bitmap images.
Vector format images are easily editable with the help of vector editing tools like Adobe Illustrator. Without affecting quality you can easily change shape and color of a vector image.
If you know how to use Adobe Photoshop you know you can edit jpeg or png images as well.
But you can edit bitmap images up to an extent and after that editing will affect quality of the images.
How to Choose Vector or Bitmap Image?
Now whether you should go with vector or bitmap image is totally depend on your choice. But here are some factor which can help you understand which one you should choose.
Usually logos, Clip art, icons and abstract images are vector format. Because vector images are resolution independent they must be used to create logos and clip arts.
As you may have to use logo either on business card in a small size or on a billboard in large size. So they can be resized easily without affecting quality.
If you don’t need to resize your image multiple times and a photograph can communicate your idea then you should go with bitmap image.