What are Vector Images?

Vector Graphics or Vector Images are made up of lines and curves connected by invisible points. Let’s learn more about its usage, pros and cons and what file types are associated with it.
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Vector Graphics or Vector Images are made up of lines and curves connected by invisible points. Let’s learn more about its usage, pros and cons and what file types are associated with it.

What is a Vector Image?

A vector image is an infinitely scalable digital graphic made out of mathematically calculated paths. Vectors are essentially geometric shapes that can be stretched or curved as need be. A vector image is different from a Raster Image.

There are three elements to vectors: points, polylines and polygons. Points are invisible in the final graphic, but designers can edit them within the software to change the shape of the artwork. Polylines or paths connect the points, and designers can assign a colour, stroke weight, and stroke profiles to them. Polygons form when paths are closed (i.e., all points are connected by a path). These can be assigned a fill colour. Generally, a vector image will contain many of these elements all at once to produce a convincing graphic.

While vectors do incorporate math, you can leave your advanced calculus degree at the door when working with them. Native tools in programs like Adobe Illustrator allow designers to create vector graphics quickly and easily. The computer handles the calculations on the backend.

Vector Image

The key takeaways regarding the maths involved are that graphics are geometric in nature and resolution-independent — because there are no pixels, you can scale up or shrink down a vector image without sacrificing image quality. The computer simply recalculates the equations whenever the size or position changes.

Vector Images – Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Vector graphics can be scaled to any size without losing quality.
  • The mathematical components of how a vector is built allow you to create neat lines and perfect curves, making vectors ideal for symmetry and clean designs.
  • Vectors tend to have smaller file sizes than rasters.

Cons

  • Vectors do not display complex colour gradients, textures or shading. This can result in a more flat, cartoonish style.
  • Vectors prioritize crisp, mathematically precise lines which can make it difficult to replicate an imperfect, hand-drawn look.
  • Learning curves of vector software tend to be steeper because the process of plotting points and combining shapes is not intuitive compared to traditional drawing.
Vector Image illustration
Vector graphics are infinitely scalable, meaning lines are crisp and sharp even when you zoom in. Logo design by KONSTABR.

When to use a Vector Images Format?

Vector graphics are ideal for print designs due to the fact that they are resolution-independent. Their infinite scalability and simplified shapes make them perfect for designs like logos that must be adaptable and easily edited for a variety of contexts.

Their simplicity can also make vectors useful for animated graphics (even though the final animation might end up raster). Vectors can be used for illustration, and despite being stylistically limiting, they are capable of high geometric precision. Because vectors can be easily converted to raster, there’s no real situation when you can’t use vector graphics if the situation (and client) permits.

Here are some common situations that better suit vector images:

  • Logo designs
  • Illustrations
  • Packaging
  • Brochures
  • Posters
  • T-shirts
  • Signage
  • or anything intended to be printed

Vector images software and file types

Vector image Softwares and File Types

Vecor File Formats:

  • PDF
  • EPS
  • AI
  • SVG

Vector Softwares:

  • Illustrator
  • Affinity
  • CorelDRAW
  • Inkscape
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