What is the difference between vector and raster graphics?

Laura here from the Rose City Label art department.  Many times we get asked what kind of file we prefer to have sent to us.

  The answer is Vector. 

Many people do not know what a vector file or raster file is. 

  • Raster graphics are composed of pixels, while vector graphics are composed of paths.  A raster graphic, such as a tiff or jpeg, is an array of pixels of various colors, which together form an image. 
  • A vector graphic, such as an EPS file or Illustrator file, is composed of paths, or lines, that are either straight or curved. The data file for a vector image contains the points where the paths start and end, how much the paths curve, and the colors that either border or fill the paths.

Because vector graphics are not made of pixels, the images can be scaled to be very large without losing quality.  Raster graphics, on the other hand, become “blocky,” since each pixel increases in size as the image is made larger.  Vector images also allow for more editing capabilities than a raster. 

For the best quality print we encourage using vector images.