Vector and raster graphics play an integral role in a design project’s outcome. In general, raster graphics are best for images that need a wide range of color gradients, like photographs, while vector graphics are best for images that need to be resized effectively without losing quality, like logos. Whether you’re designing for print or digital purposes, it’s helpful to have a basic understanding of the differences between these two types of graphics.

Below are some key points to keep in mind when deciding which one is best for your needs:

Vector Graphics:

• Formed by mathematical formulas using curves and lines, not pixels
• Examples of vector graphics include logos and signage
• Edited in Adobe Illustrator
• Common file formats include AI, EPS, and PDF
• Can be scaled to any size, as they do not lose quality
• Vector graphics are not widely supported on the web, although they can be converted into raster graphics

Raster Graphics:

• Stored as pixels, which are a series of tiny dots. Each pixel is assigned a color and then arranged to form an image; similar to a puzzle piece.
• Examples of raster graphics include photographs and web graphics
• Edited in Adobe Photoshop
• Common file formats include PSD, JPEG, PNG, GIF, and TIFF
• Enlarging a raster graphic can result in the image looking blurry and pixelated
• Depending on the size and resolution of the file, the quality of raster graphics varies. If the file is small and/or low resolution, it will print as low quality. If the image is large and high resolution, it will print as high quality.