Main Differences Between Raster And Vector Images 2022

Differences Between Raster And Vector Images

Vector and raster are the two most popular image formats. Such images might look identical, but they differ in certain ways, which dictates how they perform under different circumstances. Learning and understanding these differences helps you easily pick suitable file formats for your visual content, and ensures that you’ll always get desired results. So, let’s dig into the details and find out what raster and vector images are.

What is a vector image?

A vector image consists of paths created with special mathematical formulas; they direct the path’s shape, and its border color or fill. Thanks to these formulas, vector graphics retain their appearance even when their size changes. 

To put it simply, you can scale them as much as you want, and they’ll look the same without quality loss. You can also easily modify vector image files in vector-based editors, e.g., change the color of a certain object or change its shape in a couple of clicks.

Such scalability and flexibility allow using vectors in different types of visual content: logos, illustrations, artwork, and many more. You can easily enlarge a vector to make it look good on a billboard. At the same time, you can adjust its size to use in your social media visuals.

Vectors work best for designs that consist of solid colors. features 54+ million royalty-free vector images, including 70,000 free-to-download files. You can use these high-quality vector images as illustrations for a blog, print material, work presentation, website design, and other creative projects. You can easily find the images you need at

What is a raster image?

A raster image consists of many individual colored pixels, which combine to create the overall picture. A pixel is a color dot, but due to its small size, you can’t see its square shape unless you substantially enlarge your file. 

The small pixel size allows raster images to look as bright and colorful as possible. That’s why this file format is an excellent solution for complex visuals with lots of colors and shades: photographs, digital paintings, and other artwork.

On the other hand, raster images don’t scale as well as vectors. If you have a large-size raster file, you’ll be able to resize it or use it on big screens and carriers without witnessing significant quality loss. However, if a raster image is small, you won’t be able to enlarge it a lot while retaining its HD appearance. 

While vector images can be easily converted into rasters, this doesn’t work the other way around. You can turn certain raster images such as illustrations into vectors only if you decide to trace them manually in a special software like Adobe Illustrator.

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What is the difference between vector and raster images?

1. File type and size

The most common raster file types are JPG, JPEG, PNG, GIF, PSD, and TIFF. As for vectors, their most common file types are AI, EPS, SVG, and CDR. These types usually depend on the software people use to create visuals. For instance, an AI file indicates that the vector was created in Adobe Illustrator.

As raster files preserve color better and support more colors than vectors, they occupy more digital space. The higher the quality, the larger the raster file. If you try to compress such images, this could lead to minor or significant quality loss, depending on how much you want to resize them.

It happens because rasters have to preserve all the information required for image rendering: the color of pixels, their arrangement, their number, and other aspects. On the other hand, vectors are created with the help of mathematical formulas, and only contain anchor points and coloring information. That’s why their size is usually smaller.

2. Scalability

When you open a raster file and try to enlarge it as much as possible, you’ll see that it pixelates, and the smooth lines turn into squares. So, if you try to enlarge a small raster image, you probably won’t be satisfied with the low-quality, blurry outcome.

On the other hand, vector images based on mathematical equations can be scaled infinitely without losing their quality. This happens because such equations simply recalculate during resizing and preserve the image’s appearance this way.

Knowing that you can choose a proper file depending on how you’re going to use a particular image. Sometimes, high-resolution rasters are enough, even for print designs. However, in other cases, vectors are the only option, e.g., if you’ll be using them on massive carriers like billboards. 

3. Color depth

Raster images are the best solution for graphics that have to look as nuanced and true-to-life as possible. They retain all the color blends, shadows, and shades, making the images look bright and appealing.

Vector images can be bright and colorful too, but they won’t look as realistic as the rasters. Although they support many colors, they are worse at retaining all nuances, such as gradients, shading, and color blends. 

So, if you’re looking for complex and realistic images, raster files should be your first choice. However, if you don’t need your visuals to be true-to-life, opt for vector pictures instead. Even though they are not as nuanced, you can use them for other purposes. For example, you can download vector pics that illustrate different stages of a specific process and support your textual content with them. 

To sum up

Vector and raster images are created using different technologies and, therefore, display differently. Raster images are a better solution for photographs and colorful illustrations, while vectors are a great option if you’re aiming for high scalability. There’s no right or wrong choice—you just have to know how you’re going to use the visuals and pick the file format that fits your specific needs. 

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