In the world of graphic design, you will often have to work with vector graphics. But have you ever wondered what a vector is, exactly?

Vector graphics are digital shapes made of lines and curves, also called paths, to create an image based on a mathematical equation. Raster images are instead made of pixels; tiny dots that compose the full image.

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One of the big advantages of working with vector graphics as opposed to raster graphics is that you can scale them as much as you want to without losing any quality.

What are the differences between raster and vector graphics?

As mentioned before, raster images are based on a grid of colored pixels. Pixels are the tiny squares you see when zooming in into the image.

grid of pixel versus vector paths
Example of Raster and Vector. Illustration designed by @alicelovesdrawing.
But with a raster image, the number of pixels is fixed once you create the image. If you want to scale a raster design to a larger size, it will always lose image quality.

The most well-known format for raster images is the .jpeg (or .jpg) file, but the .png, .gif and .tiff file formats are also pixel-based. Files such as .pdf or .eps can instead use a combo of raster and vector elements. Typically, any photo you have taken with your phone or camera is a raster image.

Understanding Vectors in Graphic Design

Grasp the basics of vector graphics and their role in modern design. Our tutorial provides a clear and comprehensive introduction to vectors for all skill levels.

Let’s look at an example. You've designed the logo for your business card and now you want to use it for your office billboard. If you've used a raster software for designing your logo, you will end you up with a blocky, blurry image when you try to scale it up to your billboard’s size.

what are vector graphics
Printed Poster – Illustration by @namlines
The better solution to this problem would be to use vector images to create your logo, letting you scale it to any size without losing image quality.

Additionally, vector files do not require as much storage space as raster files, which can contain many thousands of pixels. Besides, vector graphics are generally easier to modify and are much better to use when it comes to creating responsive web design.

When to use vector graphics instead of raster graphics?

After you read our short definition of vector graphics and the comparison with raster images, we will give you an overview of the situations in which you should use vector graphics instead of raster graphics.

By now, you should know that vectors are the best choice when it comes to design, illustrations, and all kinds of graphics, especially if you want to scale them!

On the other hand, we recommend using raster graphics when you are editing digital photography, because they are much better at portraying color depth. Unlike vector graphics, which have “only” a few thousand color options, raster pixels can provide up to 16 million different colors.

Which design software should i use to create vector graphics?

There are several vector graphic editors you can choose from. If you are looking for a professional, intuitive, and easy-to-use graphic design software, Vectornator has you covered.

what are vector graphics? Printed Vector Poster

Vectornator is available across the entire Apple ecosystem

Using Vectornator, you could start a detailed illustration on your Mac with your trackpad and then easily switch to the iPad to draw more precisely with the Apple Pencil. And in case you were away from your design workstation, you could even do some last-minute changes to your project on the small iPhone in your pocket.

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Vectornator macOS iPadOS and iOS
What are vector graphics? | Linearity