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Raster Image vs Vector: Graphics File Formats for the Printing Industry

Updated on June 30, 2011

Raster images Also known as bitmap images are made up of tiny little pixels or dots which blend together to create an image. Raster image uses a grid of individual pixels where each pixel can be a different color or shade. Most internet graphics are raster images, JPG'S and GIF'S are the 2 main types of web page image formats. These files are low resolution and compressed to reduce file size, this also diminishes image quality. On a computer monitor these images appear crisp and clean; however, when they are enlarged for printing the end result is bumpy, fuzzy, blurry and pixilated image. TIFF's, PSD's and BITMAP files are another type of raster image. When created to the actual print size and with a high resolution (300dpi or higher) are acceptable to use for printing. These files are ideal for multi color prints (such as photographs) that include shadows, shading and blending. Photoshop or other photo editing software use this type of image.

Vector art files are graphics made up of outlines and curves. Vector graphics use mathematical relationships between points and the paths connecting them to describe an image. The benefit is these graphics is they can be enlarged indefinitely with little to no distortion. This kind of art is the ideal form for any printing and graphics business. Popular file types are listed below.

· Postscript file [EPS]

· Adobe Illustrator [AI]

· Corel Draw [CDR]

· Windows meta file [WMF]

· Enhanced meta file [EMF]


When submitting graphics for printing vector files are the preferred chioce. The best file format to use is an .eps (encapsulated post script) or .pdf (portable document format) these seem to be the standard and most stable for electronic transferring or e-mail.

Here is a list of software that is used in vector art creation.

CorelDraw - Windows

Adobe Illustrator - Windows/Mac

Inkscape - Linux free open soruce

Xara Xtreme - Linux free open soruce/Windows *least expensive

also read

How to open .eps files and

How to create a pdf file


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