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Vector Versus Raster, and Other File Types


Hi all! Jillian here again with another Design Talk this week about file viewing and the differences of each file. 

This is going to get into the nitty gritty of graphic design, but it’s important to know because the type of file affects how it’s viewed. Adobe Illustrator files are vectorized, and Adobe Photoshop files are rasterized. 

There are two main image file types when something is created on the computer

Take notice on Adobe Illustrator, the illustrations drawn are smooth, connected without being pixelated, which is easily noticed up close. As the image gets zoomed in further in Adobe Illustrator,  the illustration doesn’t lose its quality or its smooth edges. This is because vector images are based on mathematical points.

On the other hand, raster images (for example in Photoshop) rely on pixels to make up the images. This is noticeable when the image is zoomed in. Tiny square boxes, called pixels, make up the image. 

There are different file types between these vectors and rasters depending on if they are meant to be viewed on the screen or printed. For instance, for print purposes, TIFFs, which are rasterized, are great for high quality prints. 

For screen purposes, there are a few rasterized choices and their names get a little convoluted. 

PNGs, which stand for Portable Network Graphic, are great for the screen or on the web. JPG, standing for Joint Photo Export Group, are also meant for onscreen and the web. SVGs, which are Scalable Vector Graphics, are vectorized images. 

And finally, a PSD file (photoshop file) or an AI file (adobe illustrator file) are separate files saved within those adobe programs, usually in progress and are raster based and vector based, respectively. 

I hope this shed some light on the many image file types and the differences between them.

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