A vector image is a digital image in which points, lines, and curves based on mathematical equations are used to form different shapes. Each mathematical equation has various properties of color, thickness, curve, and more. For this reason, a vector image can be scaled into a high or low resolution and resized without loss of image detail.
Major types of vector image formats
The commonly found vector image file extensions include:
- SVG: Scalable Vector Graphics image is a file format based on XML, a widely used markup language across the internet that can be readable by both humans and machines, for two-dimensional images. The SVG format allows users to edit images by using a text editor as well as graphic editing software. The image can be compressed and scaled without losing details. SVG image files are small in size compared to other formats. Logos and icons are often saved as SVG with the support of interactivity and animation.
- WMF: Windows Metafile, a 16-bit image format, is designed for Microsoft Windows. The file consists of the details of an image including drawing commands, graphics, and property definitions to display the image on a device.
- AI: Adobe Illustrator Artwork is a file format introduced by Adobe for developing vector-based images on a single page. It has a close resemblance with the PGF file format as it originated from the PGF format. AI is easy to export to other file formats such as EPS and PDF for printing and reviewing digital graphics.
- EPS: Encapsulated PostScript is a document format that also supports the graphics file format. As a PostScript program, EPS files describe the layouts and properties of an image. It is an older type of image file that lacks transparency in the way like all other formats such as AI and SVG files do.
- PDF: Portable Document Format is an image format based on the PostScript developed by Adobe that provides a complete description of images layout, text, fonts, and other required information to display an image.
What are the different uses of vector images?
Vector images are ideal for use in settings where file size is restricted, but the needed image size can vary. Typical uses include:
- Printing (paper, cloth, etc.): The smooth curves, lines, and shapes of vector images can produce better-quality printed materials without affecting their color and clarity.
- Animations: Vector graphics can be used to create frame-by-frame images that require less computing power to redraw for each frame of movement.
- Brand illustrations: Most designers use vector editor software like Illustrator to create images for commercials and billboards.
- Infographics: Vector graphics enable graphic design elements to be quickly resized and modified
- Logo and sign making: Vector images allow scaling of logos and other images beyond their original sizes without losing the details.
- App or website interfaces: Due to the smaller file size, most designers prefer vector images to design web elements such as buttons, headers, and more.
Advantages of using vector images
Following are some of the advantages of using vector images:
- Infinite resolution: The infinite resolution of vector images protects against losing its quality as it allows designers to enlarge lines, curves, and shapes to any size they want.
- Scalability: The scalability of vector images enables users to view images in any size, scale up and down, and export to any size without affecting the quality.
- Small file size: It contains less information in the form of coordinates, therefore, designers can use a wide range of colors, texts, and so on while creating images.
- Multipurpose images: With vector graphics, Designers can draw different shapes, manipulate texts, create color gradients, and more.
- Realistic images: Designers use vector graphics to produce realistic and precise illustrations.
- Reusable images: Designers can transform the original image after creating the copy and clones of a vector image.
- Editable with code: SVG file format enables designers to edit vector images by writing and editing on its source code.
Vector image vs. raster image
Here are some of the significant differences between vector and raster images: