Vector and Raster graphics… what?

It’s weekend so I was kinda lazy. I’ve made a resolution to try to blog on average once a day so gotta keep it up.

Anyway, I’ve been doing some research on web design and stuff like that recently as you can see. Well when it comes to web design Photoshop is really your best friend but I’ve seen people using Illustrator and I was like what’s the deal with that? Photoshop is mad powerful in image manipulation and its not enough.

Well then I googled a bit more and found out about vector and raster graphics. I recall “layer rasterize” in Photoshop but didn’t really understand what that means until I found out about this. So what are the 2 types?

Raster graphic is pretty much any kind of image you see on your computer: jpeg, png, gif… those types are bitmap images, which are literally a map of bits. In other words, it’s like a grid of pixels and each pixel has a color (hmm you can read about Color in my previous post).

Well this kind of image is very popular and reasonable lightweight. But there’s (huge) problem: pixelation. When you zoom in those images, depending on your awesome image viewer which might perform some optimization and Anti-Aliasing, you might get a pretty good image. An example would be like this:

Anti-Aliased Zoom

Anti-Aliased Zoom

So instead of having a distorted image of checkerboard, AA tries to calculate surrounding pixel for sample colors and adjust accordingly. But it’s still UGLY. In fact I think AA came out cause most pictures are bitmaps and zooming is definitely helpful.

Now coming back to Photoshop, say you create text field with your fancy font and your fancy color and all that. Now you wanna apply some shadows and blur and those kinds of effects. You can’t do it PERIOD! Unless you rasterize it since those manipulations only work on raster images.

So what’s your text? It’s a vector image. Vector graphic is pretty a picture comprised of vectors. The file format is normally EPS. So what do you mean by vector? I mean shapes and lines. A vector is based on mathematical calculation so a diagonal line, in raster graphics means a whole bunch of pixels in certain positions having the same color, in vector graphics would mean literally a line, a bunch of points in xy-coordinate (Cartesian).

So this difference makes vector graphics very flexible to zooming since it just need to rescale the points of the vector and apply colors accordingly.

Vector and Bitmap Comparison

Vector and Bitmap Comparison

Now this makes raster graphics look bad. Yeah it does. But reality cannot be easily captured just using vector graphics. There’s been vectorization tools but so far it can only convert to a certain degree. Also gradient, shading and all those are really hard to be vectorized. As you can see the soda bottle up there doesn’t really have true gradient to it.

However vector graphic has developed into its own field and the images are really really mind-“blasting”. Some bonus examples:

Light Bulb Vector

Light Bulb Vector

Jessica Alba Vector

Jessica Alba Vector

Both pics cannot apply gradient properly due to the nature of region between vectors. However if you zoom out or rescale like I did, it looks pretty legit.

Ok guys have fun and keep on designing!!

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