Vector vs. Raster

While your company logo on a website may look sharp on the computer or smart phone screen, the same logo may not look as good when printed on a business card or an outdoor billboard. The reason is in the way an image is rendered online and on print.

If you look closely at an image online, you may notice tiny dots (or squares). These dots collectively formed the image you see. You may also have heard the term “dpi” used to refer to the quality / resolution of an image; it stands for “dots per inch”. The more dots within an inch, the better the image will look online and on print. These images are often referred to as raster images and they have extensions like jpg, psd, png, tiff, bmp, and gif at the end of the file name.

Images found on websites are usually at 72 dpi with smaller file size (typically under 1MB) so that they load faster. However, when the same image is printed on a business card or banner, it will usually be fuzzy, jagged and blurry. This is because with only 72 dots per inch, the clarity of the image will be compromised. An ideal resolution for images to be printed should be at least 300 dpi.

Vector images are formed by shapes created in vector programs using lines and points (see image above). Vector-based images are great for when you need scalability, like applying your logo on something as small as a name badge to as big as a signage. Vector files have extensions like eps, ai and pdf at the end of the file name.

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