Vector Graphics vs. Raster Images


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When setting up your print-ready files, you may wonder what type of images or graphics you should include for your artwork. Do you go with vector graphics or include raster images? From door hangers for marketing or custom brochures for upcoming trade shows, the right artwork files can make or break your design.

Take a look at the pros and cons of vector and raster graphics before placing an order for your online printing projects.

Vector (sharp lines)
Raster (pixelated lines)

Vector Graphics

Vector images are graphic elements made up of points and lines that remain smooth no matter how large or small the image is scaled. Vectors are primarily used for illustrative elements, iconography and logo design.

Specifications for Vector Graphics

Follow these best practices when creating and working with your vector images.

  • Vector graphics are best created in Adobe Illustrator.
  • To retain the ability to edit within your vector file, be sure to save it as an AI or EPS file when working in Illustrator.
  • Since vector images are highly scalable, there are no real limitations when it comes to size.
  • A vector logo can be small enough to fit on a button or scaled to fit a billboard without losing any quality.

Convert .JPG images to vectors:

  • Open your .JPG in Illustrator (you’ll notice your upper toolbar change).
  • Select Image trace > Expand to create a vectorized version of the file you currently have.
  • Ungroup the selected artwork to remove the background from your graphic.
  • Hint: The simpler the object being traced, the better the result. However, starting from scratch will always produce the best results.

Raster Images

Raster images are a series of pixels (PPI) or dots (DPI) that form an image when compiled. Raster images are used for non-line work art, primarily photographs. 

Specifications for Raster Images

Follow these best practices when creating and working with your raster images.

  • Raster images are best created in Photoshop (especially if rasterize files are photographs).
  • Raster images are non-scalable, so if you need to resize your image larger than the original, the result will be a low-quality image with fuzzy, low resolution.
  • When setting up images for print, make sure you’re working at 300 DPI.

Convert .JPG images to rasters:

.JPG files are already raster files but can be optimized when saved out of Photoshop for smaller file sizes and higher quality images. 

If you have questions about setting up your file, you can learn more in our File Preparation section. You can also contact customer service and chat with one of our print experts about your project or any of our online printing services. 


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