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Design A to Z – Vector

This week we are looking at vectors, but not the type you did in maths in school!

If you are sending logos to a designer for a poster, flyer or other piece of promotional material they will usually ask for these logos to be supplied as vector images. But what exactly is a vector image and what makes it different from other images?

Illustrations, logos and text are usually created and saved as vector images. Unlike digital photographs and other bitmap images, which are made up of pixels, vector images or files are made up of scalable shapes. This means that they can be stretched or shrunk without losing quality.

This image shows the difference in image quality between a magnified vector and a magnified bitmap – vectors can be scaled without losing quality while bitmaps cannot.

Vector images are also not confined to a rectangular shape, they can be anything from a simple circle to a very complex swirling pattern. This makes vectors easy to layer on top of other images such as a coloured backgrounds or a photograph. It is also much easier to change the colours in a vector image than other types of image.

Vector files are often created by special software, so you may not be able to open them unless you have this software installed. You can usually tell if a file is a vector by its file extension.

.ai .eps and .svg are common vector file extensions. Vectors can also be saved as pdf files, though not all pdf files are vectors.

Have questions about vector files or other file types? Get in touch, we’d love to help.

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