The first time you have someone explain what a vector is vs a raster you may have images in your mind of a giant lizard creature being attacked by a giant moth – no? Just me…. Ok that’s cool. Regardless of your first impression of vectors and rasters they do have some strong distinctions that could make your next printing job go much smoother if you know the differences.
A raster image is created with hundreds and possibly up to millions of tiny squares of color that are called pixels or dots. You actually see lots of raster images. Whenever you are looking at a .jpeg, .gif, .png or .tif you are looking at a raster image. Most of these images are used when you posting on the web. These images on the web are going to appear very clear and crisp even though they are very small images. Most images on the web only require a 72dpi (dots per inch). However to get a clear image when printing you will end up needing around a 300dpi which is a significantly larger image. The problem with raster images is that they are stuck in that dpi that they were designed in. If you try to make that 72dpi image larger your image looks blurry because you are zooming in on a bunch of dots.
The alternative is to use a vector image. A vector is an image that is created using math to create lines, points and curves. So all that stuff you were learning in linear algebra – well here it is the real world. A vector image can be scaled to any size. And using that amazing math that I don’t fully understand it can scale that same image to any size that you may need. From a small logo to a car wrap. Making it a very helpful image to have. Vector images do have their limitations but when it comes to scaling they are king. So does that make vectors the godzilla or the mothra….. Regardless, hopefully this information helps you on your future printing jobs.