Graphic Design Terminology…. What Does It All Mean?

Vector file, raster file, pixelation, jpg… feeling confused yet? You’re not alone. Often in graphic design, the terminology can be confusing for the inexperienced, but we are here to help. Some of the most commonly used terms are often the most perplexing. Yet once they are broken down into what exactly they are and why they are necessary, it’s simpler than you would think.

Vector Vs Raster

The difference between a vector file and raster file can be easily explained. A raster file, often a jpg, png, or tif, is an image which is made up of tiny coloured pixels. When the image is zoomed in on, the image appears to be made up of a mosaic of tiny coloured squares. However, with a vector, zooming in simply magnifies the imaging without compromising clarity.

A vector file is one that specifically stores lines, shapes, and colours that make up an image as a mathematical formula. Vector graphics programs, such as Adobe Illustrator, use this formula to construct the screen image, building the best quality image possible. It does so by determining where the dots that make up the image should be placed for the best results when displaying it. This formula allows for a graphic to be sized and rescaled to fit any need while maintaining the sharpness and highest resolution possible.

When Do I Use A Vector Graphic?

If you have a logo or graphic you’d like to use for your business, a vector file allows it to be manipulated into different scales and sizes, which means it can be used in a variety of ways. For example, taking an image from a business card that is 1"x1" and being able to stretch it larger without compromising the clarity and quality, means that the image can also be put on things such as newsletters, brochures, signs or even billboards.

A vector file also allows for the graphic to be pulled apart in layers as each design is comprised of several layers, containing certain elements. Being able to access and separate those elements individually can allow for easy manipulation of the logo to have it customized to each project it’s being used for. With this, also comes the consistency of colour. Being able to dissect the graphic means colour editing can be done easily, bringing consistency each time the image is printed.

How Do I Know It’s A Vector File?

If you have a logo or graphic, chances are it is a vector file if it was created by a graphic designer. However sometimes the graphic is saved within an image or is completely saved over as a rasterized file. Often when this happens the original vector graphic still remains in existence on your computer, but sometimes due to confusion of file names, it could have been accidentally been misplaced or deleted. Simply search your hard drive for an .eps, .ai or .pdf version of the image and this will likely bring you to your vector file. On the off chance you no longer have your vector file, many designers and programs can easily convert your current file to a vector file, though depending on the complexity of the design, it might need to be recreated from scratch. Alternatively if you contact the person or company who created your logo for you originally they almost always will have a back up file they can send you.

If you have any questions about saving, finding or converting your files to vector files to optimize the use of your logo, please feel free to give us a call at 705-252-4180. We are always here to help you in any way we can to assist in improve your marketing approach whenever possible.


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Barrie, ON   L4N 9P6

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