Christian Gutierrez
Digital media and Web Design Peer Leader Assistant

Vector graphics Vs. Raster graphics - Review

In computer graphics, a raster graphics image or bitmap is a data structure representing a generally rectangular grid of pixels, or points of color, viewable via a monitor, paper, or other display medium. Raster images are stored in image files with varying formats (see Comparison of graphics file formats). A bitmap corresponds bit-for-bit with an image displayed on a screen, generally in the same format used for storage in the display's video memory, or maybe as a device-independent bitmap. A bitmap is technically characterized by the width and height of the image in pixels and by the number of bits per pixel (a color depth, which determines the number of colors it can represent). The printing and prepress industries know raster graphics as contones (from "continuous tones") and refer to vector graphics as "line work". VECTORVector graphics is the use of geometrical primitives such as points, lines, curves, and shapes or polygon(s), which are all based on mathematical equations, to represent images in computer graphics. Vector graphics formats are complementary to raster graphics, which is the representation of images as an array of pixels, as it is typically used for the representation of photographic images. There are instances when working with vector tools and formats is best practice, and instances when working with raster tools and formats is best practice. There are times when both formats come together. An understanding of the advantages and limitations of each technology and the relationship between them is most likely to result in efficient and effective use of tools. Resolution

Raster graphics are resolution dependent. They cannot scale up to an arbitrary resolution without loss of apparent quality. This property contrasts with the capabilities of vector graphics, which easily scale up to the quality of the device rendering them. Raster graphics deal more practically than vector graphics with photographs and photo-realistic images, while vector graphics often serve better for typesetting or for graphic design. Modern computer-monitors typically display about 72 to 130 pixels per inch (PPI), and some modern consumer printers can resolve 2400 dots per inch (DPI) or more; determining the most appropriate image resolution for a given printer-resolution can pose difficulties, since printed output may have a greater level of detail than a viewer can discern on a monitor. Typically, a resolution of 150 to 300 pixel per inch works well for 4-color process (CMYK) printing. 

4 / 5 • 2 Ratings

Comments (4)

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Cortez William

Posted on 5/19/19 4:22:36 AM Permalink

​It is a clear distinction of how vector graphics differ from raster graphics.

Carly Manhart

Posted on 3/30/19 6:48:12 AM Permalink

​Great definition!

Lukas Engqvist

Posted on 11/17/15 9:52:22 PM Permalink

The definition is good, but I think we can't discuss the two with also discussing Object graphics.

Both EPS and PDF are object graphics where there is a mix of both raster and vector art. This is also true of applications like Photoshop, Illustrator and Indesign, where photoshop is traditionally known as raster editor, but has quite powerful vector capabilities mainly in the form of clipping paths, and vector masks (text and vector shapes are saved as clipped raster images if exported from Photoshop to EPS or PDF). Also Illustrator, will often be referred to as vector, but can contain both placed raster art, and have vector generated raster art (as when applying any feathering effect) which can be deceptive. Also Illustrator can make a transformation/distortion of a raster graphics with vector mesh.

Depending on the scope of the review this may or may not be something to consider.

steven zeichner

Posted on 11/4/15 4:25:00 PM Permalink

Straight forward comparison of the two graphics formats.