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In graphic design, there are two main types of image files: raster and vector. While both file types can be used for various purposes, they differ significantly in their structure and capabilities. Understanding the differences between these two formats can help designers determine which one to use for a particular project. And as a marketing manager or client, knowing the difference will ensure your work is always clean, clear and on brand.


Raster files, also known as bitmap images, are made up of pixels arranged in a grid pattern. Each pixel contains information about the colour, brightness, and the x and y coordinates of a specific point in the image. Raster files are typically used for photographs, digital paintings, and other images that require a high level of detail and colour accuracy.

The main advantage of raster files is that they can capture subtle nuances in colour and shading. However, they have a fixed resolution, meaning they can become pixelated and lose clarity if enlarged beyond their original size. This makes raster files less ideal for projects that require scalable graphics, such as logos and icons. Examples of raster file types include JPG, PNG and TIFF files.


On the other hand, vector files are comprised of mathematical equations that describe the lines, shapes, and colours in an image. Because vector files are not made up of pixels, they can be scaled up or down without losing sharpness or detail. Vector files are typically used for logos, icons, and other graphics that need to be scalable and easily editable. Examples of vector file types are EPS and AI files.

One of the primary advantages of vector files is that they are highly versatile and are extremely small in file size compared to their pixel-based counterpart. Designers can easily manipulate and rework the individual elements in a vector file, such as changing the colour or shape of a specific object. Vector files are perfect for projects that require a lot of customization and flexibility. Despite this, vector files have some limitations when it comes to capturing detail and texture. They are not well-suited for creating photographic images or other highly detailed visuals.

What Does This Mean to Me?

When you are doing projects that need highly detailed images, ensure that you use the highest resolution JPG, PNG or TIFF image files.

If you are working on a project that involves icons, infographics and brand logo files, make sure you are using your vector EPS or AI files, especially if you need to enlarge these elements to a considerable size. When working with a designer, always make sure to receive the vector version of your logo and brand files. Even if you can not open or use these files, they are incredibly important, so be sure to store them in a safe place.

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