Working with digital graphics can be challenging if not overwhelming, especially when you don’t understand the image option and file format you are using. To put it quite simply, there are two types of computer graphics files namely: Raster and Vector. While raster images are composed of bitmaps- multiple grids of pixels, vector images are made of thousands of tiny and intricate computer generated lines and curves. This is some information that perhaps the inexperienced self-publisher in need of short run books doesn’t know. So which of the two graphics format is better?

Well, here is a detailed look at each of the graphic types:

Raster Images

With raster graphics, an image is defined by countless tiny squares, each coded with a specific hue or shade. An individual square or pixel, on its own, is rendered worthless. But when all of them come together, they form an image that’s sensible to the eye. Examples of raster graphics include non-line art images like digital camera photos, logos, scanned artwork and other detailed graphics images. While these images boast of complex composition, they tend to have undefined lines and shapes as well as subtle chromatic gradations.

However, when looked closely the images start to appear rough and pixelated. That’s simply because zooming brings up the individual pixels that the image is comprised of. Compared to Vector images, raster images usually have larger file sizes. It’s also important to note that raster format bears a specific resolution when it comes to image definition and display. The resolution, in this case, is measured in dpi (dots per inch). Hence a higher dpi depicts a better resolution. Common raster file formats used today include GIF, BMP, JPEG, TIFF, and PCX.

Vector Graphics

Unlike raster graphics whose definition is solely based on pixels, vector-based graphics involve the use of complex mathematical formulas that include primitive geometries like rectangles, circles, polygons, curves and lines. Each of the lines and curves is usually assigned a specific color value. And because vector graphics use an approach that’s well-defined and formulaic in creating graphics, resulting images tend to be more malleable compared to raster images. That means the graphics are more versatile, highly flexible and easy to use.

Vector images are also highly scalable, with no upper or lower limit required in sizing the images. A vector image can typically be sized repeatedly and scaled limitlessly without losing resolution or looking cloudy. And since the image has no fixed intrinsic resolution, it will always take on the resolution of the output device i.e. the phone, PC monitor or printer. Some of the common formats available in vector graphics include CGM, PICT, WMF, EPS, and AL.

These two formats can be perfect for sending image files online or transferring to a PC for printing. However, vector-based graphics are generally more efficient, versatile and smaller, hence making them way better than raster graphic images. If you have any questions about how to format your graphics, please contact us at our NYC office.