Vector VS Raster Art

Trade show graphics can be designed in two formats, Vector art  and Raster art, or as a combination of the two. The challenge that printers face when dealing with large files is that some file formats are compatible with vector and raster art.  this is why the question ” what file format do you need it in”  is somewhat confusing.  for example  EPS, and PDF  can contain both raster and vector information.

The main purpose to vector based are is for logos, text, shapes, objects, gradients…  etc.  Raster based arit is better suited to photos and images.

What is vector based art

In a vector based art file the information is stored as vectors.  This is points X and Y coordinates and instructions as to how the points interact.  Are they connected with a line, or an arc,  do multiple points work with each other to create a shape or are they just start and end points of a line.

An example of vector based art – crisp and clean at any size


The advantage to vector  art:

  • that the file size is very small as it is only storing coordinates and instructions.
  • It can be re sized or scaled without loosing any clarity
  • it can have raster images linked into it.

Common file formats that are compatible with Vector Art

  • AI (adobe illustrator
  • EPS (created from a vector program eg Illustrator)
  • PDF (created from a vector program eg Illustrator)

What is raster based art

In raster based art files each pixel is stored as an element.  each pixel consists of a number of values that make up the colour information of the pixel.  for example in an simple  RGB (Red, Green, Blue) based file there are 3 numbers for each pixel a value between 0 and 255 for each R G and B.    this means that each pixel will have something like  (250,12,130)  as a value.

—  A bit of techi talk…

this requires 8 bits of data to store these values,  equaling 1 byte per colour per pixel.  3 bytes per pixel so an image that is 100 pixels wide and 100 high is 1000 pixels.  that works out to about 3000 bytes. = 3kb.    you can see how it would add up exponentially as the file grows.

so a 36″ x 48″ graphic at 150 DPI works out…

(36*150)*(43*150) = 38,880,000 pixels x 3 bytes each = 116,640,000 bytes — 110 MB

The same size of graphic created in a vector based format would most likely  be smaller than 1 MB

end the techi talk —–

An example of vector based art


and this is what it looks like if you try to scale it up


 Common file formats that are compatible with Raster Art

  • PSD, JPG, TIFF, Photsjop EPS, PDF


Each raster and vector have their purpose — Images and photos should be saved as raster based files.  –  Logos, text objects, shapes, gradients.  etc should be built in a vector based format.   It is common for both images and text to be required.  this is best achieved by creating a vector file and linking raster images into it.

For more information on best practices for vector and raster graphics see our blog post on file workflow (coming soon)