Raster vs Vector and Hi vs Low Resoultion

Raster vs. Vector Art

When our clients send us artwork, it’s often whatever they have on hand. When you’re printing on a desktop inkjet, almost anything works. However, when we are sending files to our high quality printing partners, we may need specific types of artwork in order to produce a high quality piece. We always work to provide the best quality printed pieces, so it’s important to use the proper file type for each marketing application.

Two basic types of art files exist, Raster and Vector. Each has its unique benefits and place in the printing process.

Raster art files area digital images composed of horizontal and vertical rows of pixel; they are ideal for photos and similar art. When raster images are enlarged, the image quality diminishes as the image gets larger. Raster files can always be sized down, but usually . Typical raster file types include .psd, .tif, .jpg, .gif, and .png.

Vector art files are created with mathematical lines and curves. They have the sharpest edges and are great for logos, type and flat color shapes. Vector images can be reduced or enlarged in size indefinitely, without any loss in image quality. Typical vector file types include .ai, .eps, .ps, .indd, and .pdf.

High vs Low Resolution

Raster art files are “resolution dependent.” This means that their appearance will change based on the resolution of the file. For example, an 8×10 photo saved at 72 pixels per inch will look great on a computer screen. However that same image will look like it’s made out of Lego if used for the cover of a pocket folder. The general standard for images in printing is 300 pixels per inch. This means that in order to provide the best print quality we may need to ask for a very large sized file. Again, raster images can be sized down, but not sized up. An 8×10 photo at 300 ppi, could be shrunk to fit a business card and look perfect, but not the other way around.

Vector art is “resolution independent.” That means that it will look the same regardless of the size at which it is printed. The same vector file can be used for anything from a business card to a two story wall mural.

The Mona Lisa, enlarged from a smaller version.

The Mona Lisa, enlarged from a smaller version.

The Mona Lisa at screen resolution.

The Mona Lisa at screen resolution.


The Mona Lisa as vector art. “La Gioconda by Orlando Arocena II”




Mona Lisa out of Lego. Courtesy www.dailymail.co.uk.
The Mona Lisa out of Lego. Courtesy www.dailymail.co.uk.

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