Do You Know Your Graphics File Formats? Part Two: Vector Artwork

Do You Know Your Graphics File Formats? Part Two: Vector Artwork
In part one of this article, we discussed raster images. In this article, we will discuss another popular graphics format: vector artwork. Most images online on the world wide web, like JPEG, are bitmap images. These are also known as raster graphics. These raster graphics can look pixelated or jagged when seen up close or if the image is low resolution.

pen tool vector art
An example of a vector curve being drawn with a pen tool in Adobe Illustrator.

Vector Artwork Is Resolution Independent
In contrast, with vector artwork you typically will not have to worry about resolution. This is because vector artwork files are comprised of points, lines, curves, and shapes based on mathematical data. Therefore, vector artwork is resolution independent. The mathematical data in the vector artwork file is sufficient to resize to almost any size needed.

The quality of the output of the artwork still depends on what type of device is creating the output. For example, a cheaper office printer printing your vector artwork may not look as nice as a print-out of the same file from a high-end, professional large format printer. Vector artwork does not ensure the print looks necessarily any better from one device to another. If the device is having problems, that’s more an issue with the device.

Use Vector Artwork as Required to Ensure Professional Results
Vector artwork ensures that a professional service can successfully use the vector file for professional output. Different types of professional services that prefer vector artwork can include:

  • Creation of precision metal dies used for embossing or foil stamping artwork, such as for business cards and other marketing materials
  • Enlargement of vector artwork for outdoor billboards
  • Digitization of vector artwork for embroidery
  • Creation of precise trim paths for print and cut devices (such as for stickers)
  • Sign making. Fact: no sign maker will ever fault you for sending them vector artwork of your logo. If you send a JPEG, you might get a call from the sign maker letting you know what they can and can’t do with the file you’ve provided.

So, I Should Request All My Files Be In Vector Format For Best Results, Right?
Not necessarily. It’s important to recognize how vector art files are created and if you really need a vector format of your file. In some cases, for certain applications, a high res JPEG (raster image) might work just fine for printing a banner or business card. The best way to determine this is to inquire with the service you are sending your logo to.

Creating Vector Artwork Can Be Tedious
Because vector artwork can be comprised of points, lines, curves, and shapes based on mathematical data, vector art files can potentially be rather large files. Adjusting or manipulating vector artwork requires the use of programs such as Adobe Illustrator, Corel Draw, or Affinity Designer (which combines both vector and raster.)

Whereas JPEG is a raster image format that can be compressed (meaning smaller file size), vector artwork retains all the data in it, making compression upon file saving not practical. One can save a native vector artwork such as Adobe Illustrator in a PDF format, but there may be some loss of editing capabilities in doing so.

Various Vector Artwork File Formats
Some common vector art native file format extensions are as follows:

  •     .ai (Adobe Illustrator)
  •     .eps (Encapsulated Post Script)
  •     .cdr (Corel Draw)
  •     .svg (Scalable Vector Graphic)
  •     .pdf *Beware, this is a tricky one! A PDF may contain both vector artwork and raster art.

If you need help with any vector artwork, Rock Star Marketing is here to assist you. We have commercial printing, prepress knowledge, and experience of over 20 years working with vector artwork. Contact us today!

Call Rock Star Marketing at (408) 833-9868. Or contact us using the button below.