Often, designers find themselves in a situation where they are forced to explain to clients why the existing file that they have of their logo won’t work when blown up for a banner they want to make. To some, the difference between the image that is shown on a webpage and an image that is printed on a large banner isn’t as clear as it is to designers, who are often faced with having to explain this difference to clients themselves. Your logo will ultimately represent you to your clients, so if you’re hiring a designer to make your logo, the simple truth is that learning the difference between these two types of files is an important thing to be aware of when you first start developing your company’s image.

At a very base level the difference between rastered files and vectors lies in the way that the images shapes are rendered. A rastered image is made of thousands of little dots, or pixels, which allows for freedom of creation and flexibility in color. Because each dot can be a different color, you can create images that take advantage of any kind of color change and variation. There images are ideal when it comes to creating full-color images that are rich in details, like photos, which is why most photo editing software, like Adobe PhotoShop, use raster-based images.

On the other hand, a vector image uses mathematical information to ‘map’ an image using anchors, lines and curves instead of individual pixels. A vector based program will place points on an

This image, from wikipedia commons, demonstrates the difference between a raster (shown on the right) and a vector (shown on the left) when zoomed in.

artboard and the allow to create curves between the points. The program stores only the points and curve data, as well as the color of each shape, making the image not only much easier to edit and a smaller file, but also infinitely scalable, unlike a raster image.

Rastered images, because they are composed of thousands of dots of color, are often memory-intensive and not conducive to being re-sized.

They are generally filled with a solid color or a gradient but can’t display the lush color depth of a raster. They also work better with straight lines or gentle curves, giving you smoother lines overall.

The setback with vector graphics is that you lose the ability to create details with colors the way you would have in a photograph. In fact, using a photo as a frame of reference, it is easy to remember when to use the right file for your purpose. Most images that are detailed like a photograph are typically rastered images. This includes the .jpg, the .png , .raw, .bmp and a slew of others. They contain rich color which requires a lot of individual pixels to produce. You won’t find many logos made this way and should be sure that the file your designer gives you or that you deliver your client will serve all their purposes.

Most logos are relatively simple, made with simple colors and not much detail beyond a basic gradient. These are typically vectors, as they keep sharp and be printed in large format or small without loss of details.

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Category: Design