What is a vector image?

A vector is a format of artwork that is created in Adobe Illustrator. Adobe Illustrator is a vector graphics editor developed by Adobe Systems. A vector denotes a type of graphical representation using straight lines to construct the outlines of objects. When vector graphics are scaled, the edges remain crisp and sharp no matter the size. In laymans terms, a vector is an outlined graphic that can be scaled to a larger or smaller size graphic without effecting the quality of the graphic.

In the advertising specialty industry (ASI) people work with vector artwork all the time. Decorators require that the artwork is in vector format of either an AI, EPS, or PDF file. They use the artwork to scale on to paper proofs or templates of the promotional products for clients’ approval. Once the paper proof is approved, the artwork is then sized or scaled to the actual size of the promotional product being decorated. The artwork remains crisp when scaled without skewing the artwork. Therefore, providing a great presentation on the promotional products.

What is a raster image?

A raster image is a rectangular pattern of parallel scanning lines followed by the electron beam on a television screen or computer monitor. Raster images are often called bitmap images because they are made of millions of tiny squares, called pixels. When photos are taken with a digital camera or copied on a scanner, the resulting files are raster images.

What is a Raster Image?
A Raster Image

Create a Vector from a Raster Image

If you have artwork or a logo that is a raster image you can try to convert it to vector format using Adobe Illistrator. And if you don’t have Adobe Illustrator you can now subscribe to Adobe Creative Cloud to gain access by purchasing one of their monthly membership plans.

We will be converting the below Lindero Brands’ image from a raster image to a vector image, see example A raster image and example B vector image. If you have a fairly simple black and white logo go ahead and open the image in Adobe Illustrator. The first step of converting this raster image to vector is to Select > All from Illustrator’s main menu or use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+A. In our case, a blue rectangle appears around the entire logo as shown in below raster image, example A.

Once your artwork is selected, choose the “Live Trace” option from the main menu. Here you will be given several options to choose from but since we are working with a black and white image you can just click the “Live Trace” button. A message might pop up saying “Tracing may appear slowly with this large image. Would you like to continue?” Select “Ok”. Then click on the “Expand” button in the main menu. Expanding the image will convert tracing object into paths, or convert object to vector format. You should now have a vector image like shown in example B.

What is a Vector? Example A
Raster – Example A
What is a Vector? Example B
Vector – Example B

Save a Vector File

To save a vector file, go to File > Save as in Adobe Illustrator’s navigation menu or keyboard shortcut Shift+Ctrl+S. Give your file a name and the either save the document as an AI, EPS, or PDF file, since these are all vector file formats.

Elyssa McGregor

Hi! I'm Elyssa McGregor. I love helping people succeed online and promoting businesses with our wide range of promotional products. I have a love for search engine optimization (SEO) and getting companies out there on the world wide web. How can I help you?

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