What’s the Vector, Victor?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010 Written by Geoff Wigglesworth

Or, the difference between vector files and bitmap files.

It amazes me that clients I work with often don’t have “vector” versions of their logo. They sometimes send me 72dpi JPEGs intended for use on their website and presume that I can enlarge the image for use on say a carry bag or an advertisement. Sorry, but no, that can’t be done, unless I reconstruct the logo – often at great expense both in time and money.

If your logo only exists in a bitmap format like JPEG or GIF, then it can’t be enlarged without losing quality. A GIF image, which was probably originally designed for a website, looks pixilated (blocky) if it is enlarged for use on a poster or an ad.

That’s because bitmap images are made up of pixels, which are tiny blocks of colour. This is great for photographic images that are not meant to be enlarged, for example on a website. If your logo is in GIF or JPEG format, the pixels don’t show when the image is viewed at its original size, but when you enlarge the logo, the pixels are enlarged (see below).

Pixel Image

Vector images on the other hand are not constructed with pixels. They are made up of lines, curves, and filled shapes and can be enlarged and reduced to any size without losing quality (see below).

Vector Image

Vector formats are mainly used for printed material, and include
CDR (CorelDraw format)
AI (Adobe Illustrator format)
EPS (Encapsulated PostScript)
EPSF (Encapsulated PostScript Format) (same as EPS)

Bitmap formats include
JPG: Good for photographs and images with many colors.
GIF: Good for website logos and images with limited colors. Supports transparency.
PNG: Good for website logos and photographs. Supports transparency.
TIFF: Good for printed photographs and images with many colours.

When you have your logo designed by a professional logo designer, there are more benefits besides the obvious ones like professionalism and originality.

A professional logo designer will supply your finished files in several formats, each of which is intended for a different use. This may end up saving you money in the future.

If you have your logo designed by A-line Graphics you can be assured that I always supply my clients with both vector files and bitmap files.