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Understanding Raster vs. Vector

There are two types of digital image files – vector and raster (or bitmap).


A raster image is made of a collection of dots called pixels. A 72 dpi image is made of 72 dots per inch (dpi) or 72 pixels (ppi) in every inch of that image. The number of pixels that comprise a raster image is called the resolution and it is fixed. If you take a 72 dpi image and scale it up 300%, you will not increase the number of pixels or dots of that image, you will simply increase the size of each pixel or dot. The result will be an image where you can clearly see the pixels and no fine detail - which is why we recommend you use a high dpi like 300 at size as to get a high-quality printed image. Photographs are raster graphics. Common raster file types include: JPG; GIF; PNG; TIF.


A vector image is made of paths. A path can be a line, a square, or a shape. Paths are used to render typography and to create anything from simple diagrams to complex illustrations. Paths are not fixed. Vector images can be scaled to a larger size and do not lose any image quality because they are made of paths and not dots (pixels). Only illustrations that are made to look like photographs can be created in a vector workspace. Common vector file types include: AI; EPS; PDF; SVG.

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