Design, Logo Design, Vector Art

What is Vector Art?

So, what is “Vector Art,” anyway?
When it comes to computer artwork, there are basically two kinds of artwork:

1.) “Bitmap” art is the kind made up of precise rows of dots almost like a mosaic made up of tiny dots of color, to make up the image. Since there are so many “pieces,” this kind of file takes up a lot of data space. You can spot a bitmap file by noting file names that have extensions on their ends that say things like .tif or .jpg, or .bmp or .gif or .png, for instance.

2.) Vector art files, on the other hand are made up of shapes and lines defined by starting and ending points, some embellished with different line-weights (the thickness of the lines outlining the shape) or with different colors filling-in a space, etc. You’ll typically see a file name with an extension on the end such as .ai or .cdr or .svg or .cnv or, sometimes, an .eps though not all EPS files are vector files. For instance, there are times when you could run into a photo image that’s been saved in an EPS file format, and that would NOT be a “vector art file.” People tend to use either Adobe Illustrator or CorelDRAW to do vector art.

So, why do people use vector art? Well, for one thing, it can be easier to select individual parts of a vector rendering, to move it, resize it, re-color it, or repeat it, as in a “step & repeat” pattern, for doing textile or wallpaper imprints. Since the shapes in a vector image are not made up of tiny dots, you avoid problems with resolution that you run into with a bitmap file, which LOSES resolution as you enlarge an image. Vector art, made-up of shapes bound simply by beginning and ending points, can be sized-up and down, so that a cartoon that you see done at the size of a coaster could be blown-up to be used on something big, like a tent, a tradeshow booth backdrop, or a tractor trailer decal, or something like that, without ending up with a fuzzy image.

Now, we can SAVE a vector file in a bitmap format, essentially turning it INTO a bitmap file, so you can always save an Adobe Illustrator file as a JPEG to place onto a web page, for instance, but you cannot take a JPEG or a TIF as a vector file; you’d have to re-draw the shapes in the JPEG or TIF, creating new vector shapes to replicate the image. This is why it can be wise to start out with vector art, and then derive bitmap art from there, since the vector art is just much more versatile.

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