Vector vs raster graphics for artists

The two different types of images you will find are raster and vector the most commonly used being raster, each has its own advantages and disadvantages which mean they are each good for different purposes but can be created with both free and paid software that is commonly available for each type of image.

Raster Graphics

Starting with raster this image type is used for tasks ranging from photography to websites and is even used with printers. Raster images are made up of what is basically a grid of pixels (not to be confused with the pixels on your monitor). This means that the images are of a fixed size which an not be scaled up without loss of quality and results in large file sizes due to having to list each pixel color, but the level of detail gained by this means that it is ideal for tasks like photography.

file formats includes software includes
JPG Photoshop
GIF Krita
PNG Gimp
BMP Artrage
TIFF Sketchbook

Vector Graphics

Vector images are different to raster images in the way they store the image data. This is done using mathematical equations and primitives this means that unlike raster images they can be scaled up in size without losing image quality as well as smaller file sizes. Also in many cases the line work in vector images is of a better quality than that in some raster images. Because of this they are often used for logos and advertising where the image may need to be make larger.

file formats includes software includes
EPS Illustrator
SVG Inkscape
Corel Draw

With the advantages that can be gained from using vector images you may be wondering why they are not used more, this is because of the level of detail that can be gained with raster images over vector images. Vector graphics can not produce the subtle gradations that can be produced using raster graphics this makes them look a little cartoon like in some cases which is fine for things such as logos but not for photographs.


What you use will ultimately come down to how you work and what you want to do, if you want or don’t have a problem with a slight cartoon like look you may want to use vector graphics but if you are creating highly detailed artwork you will most likely want to stick with raster graphics. Also as it is possible to convert from vector to raster you may want to work with both and use vector for line work where it excels and raster for adding color but as I said earlier in the end it is up to you.


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