These questions are explained often to our clients whenever we are doing a promotional item or any kind of print media. It’s important to know what vector art is to be sure your imprint or printed piece is as clear and clean as it can be.
There are two types of art files – raster images and vector images. An example of a rasterized image is a photograph just like the ones you take with your camera or phone. Photographs are made up of thousands of little colored dots. The more dots you have, the cleaner and crisper the photo will be. But if you make that artwork larger than the original, or if there are not a lot of dots per inch, the quality will be poor. You’ll see the dots themselves rather than the picture and the image will be “pixelated”.
Vector artwork, on the other hand, is made up of points with definite positions on X and Y axises, a mathematical calculation if you will. Those points can be connected by lines that might be thick or thin. The areas those lines create can be filled with color. The art is the result of math rather than colored dots, and therefore is scaleable. It can be used to print a tiny image on a pen or a giant image on a billboard on the highway.
Adobe Illustrator is the program most commonly used to create vector art files. It is important to note that only art created in a vector format is vector art.
You can take a raster art file and open it in a vector program, then save it as an .eps (the common vector format extension), but that does not change a raster image to a vector image. It must be created as a vector file — with points, lines and color fills — to be vector art.
We can always tell whether the file is true vector art or not so don’t worry if you are not sure. We are always sure our clients printed pieces look the best they can.