Raster vs Vector: What’s the Difference and When to Use Which

Because raster images can contain more complex detail and photorealism than vector images, data will inevitably be left out when you are transitioning from a complex format to a simple one. You will have better results when the source raster image is already made up of simple lines and color. Adobe Portable Document Format (.pdf) files use a combination of vector and raster images.

Raster pictures are pixel-based graphics; therefore, they do not scale well. When you enlarge them, you’ll notice heavy pixelation, which can degrade the overall quality of your project. The file size of vector images and graphics can be kept to a minimum, unlike raster files that may become very large for high-resolution images. Instead of using pixels, vector images consist of geometric shapes, curves, and paths. Since they do not contain pixels, vector images can be scaled to any size with no loss in quality. The image will maintain sharpness and clarity even when it is enlarged.

Vector vs. Raster Images: Choosing the Right Format

Additionally, the individual elements of vector files can be edited in software like Adobe Illustrator or Inkscape at any time. Even if it were possible, the process would be excruciatingly tedious, as every color change would require a new shape to be created. Shutterstock‘s collection of images includes tons of vector images available for download, like fonts, patterns, and illustrations. To view vector images exclusively, change the Image Type located under the search bar and select Vectors. For example, you might use a logo on something as small as a business card or something as large as a billboard.

  • We use algorithms that compress images to help reduce these file sizes.
  • Raster images are often called bitmap images because they are made of millions of tiny squares, called pixels.
  • The most popular raster editors are Photoshop (which has limited vector capabilities) and GIMP.
  • The format is one of the most compatible and portable because they are supported by almost all graphics software.
  • Both raster and vector images have their own advantages and downfalls depending on the project at hand.
  • In conclusion, vector data and raster data are two different formats of spatial data that have different characteristics and applications for urban planning.

Well, almost all computer font files are based on vector images of the letters – that’s why it’s possible to scale them WAY up or WAY down and still have the letters be clear. All Microsoft Office clipart uses vector art and most charts and graphs produced by Office or by statistical analysis software are vector-based. Typically vector art is created in illustration applications such as Adobe Illustrator or CorelDRAW. Vector illustrations are great for logos, illustrations/artwork, animations, and text. Raster images are usually used to store and display digital photographs, detailed graphics, or scanned artwork because they are more accessible and easily shareable. Unlike vector graphics, raster pictures are great for complex compositions with undefined lines and shapes, as well as subtle color gradations or complex color blends.

How Do I Know Which Image Type Is Best to Use?

This is a common problem but can be remedied by using raster image editing programs such as Photoshop to change resolution and properly scale images. Raster (or bitmap) images are generally what you think about when thinking of images. These are the types of images that are produced when scanning or photographing an object.

raster and vector difference

Generally speaking, vector images are made up of paths or line art that can infinitely scalable because they work based on algorithms rather than pixels. Vector images are ideal for scalable graphics, such as logos, banners, typography, and web design; however, they are not as good when it comes to displaying digital photos. Therefore, vectors are better for line art images and graphic designs requiring quick text, color, and shape editing. Vector files are more difficult to access and work with because they require vector-specific software, such as Adobe Illustrator, CorelDRAW, or Affinity Designer. The most common vector graphics file types are AI, EPS, SVG, and PDF. The mathematical formulas that underpin vector graphics allow designers and content creators to scale these files up or down to any size they desire.


And, because they’re more accessible and easier to view online, they’re better for using on social media and when sharing images to an audience who may not have the tools to open a vector image. Converting raster images to vector formats can be done, but in specific contexts. For example, converting a raster image to vector https://deveducation.com/ is best reserved for simplistic designs rather than photographs and portraits. While raster graphics are nice for showcasing detailed photographs and shareable images, they do not scale well. Enlarge a pixel-based photo online and you’ll start to see heavy pixelation, which can appear unprofessional to the user.

When you create a polygon, the first and last coordinate pairs are the same. For example, maps show rivers, roads, and pipelines as vector lines. Because cartographers use these symbols to represent real-world features in maps, they often have to decide based on the level of detail on the map. She is good at providing simple guides to use various video, office and entertainment software. Charlotte also recommends many other useful tools to make your work and life easier.

raster and vector difference

Usually, raster images can’t be scaled any larger than their original width and height. In doing so, you’re asking the image editor to add more pixels where there aren’t any more. This results in an unattractive, blurred image—at least, in most cases. Vector graphics raster and vector graphics difference are usually utilized in graphic design for commercial and creative purposes. Their functionality allows creators to quickly adapt different visual elements to marketing needs, producing graphics of varying sizes while maintaining high-resolution quality.

raster and vector difference

Most days, you can find Jessibelle curled up underneath a weighted blanket in a cozy apartment in Canada. She is a freelance writer that loves digital art, video games, and gothic fashion. We focus on what topics the design community considers essential and how they’re already changing how we design our world. Visit Shutterstock Academy for expertly-curated educational resources in photography, video, design, and more.