To Vector, or not to Vector?

Posted by Rachel on Jun 06 - 2016

We are often asked, what is a vector file? Why does a logo need to be a vector file? and why can’t we use a JPEG?...

So I felt it may be useful to give a glimpse into the wonderful world of vectors and raster images.


What are vector graphics and raster images?

Professional logos are mostly designed in a vector-based software such as Adobe Illustrator. Vector graphics are made up of points and paths that represent the image on the computer. Vectors use mathematics allowing them to be scaled large or small without losing quality.

This is a vector image made with paths and points:


This is a raster image made of pixels:


Raster images are made of individual dots, or pixels which from far away or zoomed out looks like an image. But once the image is zoomed in or increased in size, the dots and pixels enlarge showing a series of squares, creating an almost mosaic effect, or an identity blocker from a crime watch video!  

Although in some situations the image may look fine, it will eventually need to be scaled larger than the original raster resolution and distortion will occur – as you can see from the image below.

Main Vector Demo


Why does a brand need to have a vector logo?

The main reasons are, flexibility of use and scalability. Not only can a vector logo be saved as almost every format you would possibly need to use, such as jpg, png, gif, tiff, etc… It can also be blown up in scale and reduced in size without losing it’s quality. This is essential for a logo as it will be used in a vast number of formats and sizes and of course, you want your brand to look crisp, clear and professional.


Which is better, raster or vector?

Well, that depends on what you need it to do.

With raster images, these are great when something needs to be photorealistic. Raster images also handle complicated photo effects better than vectors.


raster vector comparison

Vectors are infinitely scalable so you can use the same image on anything from a logo printed on the side of a pen to the side of an aeroplane.

Raster v Vector 560x320

Very importantly, it is very easy to turn a vector image into a raster image, but almost impossible to turn a raster image into a vector – unless it’s very simple like the logos above.



How can you tell which is the vector file?

A vector file will usually have the file name extension .eps or .ai. These files you can only open in Adobe Illustrator, but they are the files that any design professional and printer will need to ensure your printed projects produce to a high quality standard. 

Not a vector:

.jpg, .png, .tiff, .psd, .gif, .bmp, .exif

Could be a vector


Most likely a vector

.eps, .ai,


With the .eps and .ai, it’s most likely to be vector if a designer has created your logo in Adobe Illustrator. However, sometimes people paste an image into illustrator and save it as an eps or ai file, which doesn’t work as a vector file, as it’s simply a raster image pasted into Illustrator.  


What if you don’t have a vector of your logo?

Either ask the original designer to send this to you, as they should have it. If that’s a problem then we at TA Design would be delighted to recreate this for you as a vector. However, this can be time consuming depending on the complexity of your logo, so get in touch with us for a quote. If you need a logo, brand refresh or your logo made into a vector, contact us at today.


Images featured from various online sources.

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