Q: What's the difference between raster and vector artwork?
Oftentimes, when you send over a .jpg logo for your label artwork, our design or account management teams will tell you that they need a vector logo and your image is raster.
If you're not familiar with design programs, this can be quite confusing.
At the base level, the differences between a raster and a vector image are as follows:
Vector Graphic: A vector graphic is a file of line-art that is scalable to infinity. Vector graphics use math and computer programming to draw shapes using points, lines, and curves.
Raster Graphic: A raster graphic is a file that contains hundreds to thousands of dots (or pixels) that are tiny blocks of color. These blocks combine to create an image. Photographs are raster graphics.
Vector Graphics In-Depth
Vector graphics are created in graphic design programs such as Adobe Illustrator or Corel Draw. These graphics are comprised exclusively of lines, curves, and points. They combine to make more complex shapes and their colors, sizes and shapes can be edited in the software at any time and at any size.
Typically, vector artwork is used for logos, typography, and other line or shape-based artwork.
To create vector artwork, use a program like Adobe Illustrator. Note: If you use images or open your artwork in raster-focused programs like Adobe Photoshop, your vector will "flatten," making it uneditable.
Some examples of vector file formats include .ai, .eps, .indd, and PDFs created in Adobe Illustrator.
Raster Graphics In-Depth
Raster graphics (sometimes referred to as bitmap images) are comprised of hundreds or thousands of tiny dots often referred to as pixels. Photographs are a great example of a raster graphic. These pixels in these graphics contain specific color information, so the more pixels that are included per inch ("dpi" dots per inch), the more complex the image will be.
You can't make raster graphics larger, however. This is the biggest con of raster graphics.
You can't add dots to raster images to make them higher quality or larger. That's why some images turn out blurry that were originally crisp - they were too small and had too few pixels to be used at a larger size.
To create raster artwork, take a picture, or create a file in a program like Adobe Photoshop.
Some examples of raster file formats include: .jpg, .tiff, and .png.
Why Vector Art for Print?
So why does our design team usually ask for vector art to print? Because vector art is scalable and easily interpreted by the printing software. This means that no matter what size label you need to be printed, a true vector graphic can work. It also means that you will receive the highest level of accuracy when your art is printed.
If you do need to have photography in your artwork, make sure that it is at least the same size as the size it will be printed. Also, make sure you send the highest resolution (dpi) file you have. That way it will print with the best results.