What is the difference between vector art and raster art?

What is the difference between vector art and raster art? This is a question that I am asked often. Understanding the difference is really important, and you will understand why once you have completed this article.


Raster images

Raster images are images made up of many tiny points. When you look at the image you are not really seeing a unified image. You are really looking at the sum total of many thousands or even millions of points. This is similar to the images you see on a computer screen. The image is made up of millions of tiny pixels. These images can b created on programs like Photoshop or the Gimp. Alternately they can be created on paper and scanned.

The advantages of raster images

Raster images are really versatile. They can look like photographs or even oil paintings. They can have a really human touch, or look really slick. I personally am a mascot designer and illustrator. I generally prefer to work in raster images because even if I am working digitally, I can still create my work the same way I would if I were working traditionally. Simply put, this means I can paint like a painter.

The disadvantages of raster images

The biggest disadvantage of raster images is, the smaller the image is, the lower the quality of the print. This is not relevant to images that are displayed on a screen. Images that are printed though, need to have a file size that is relevant to the physical size of the print. A billboard sized image would need to have a gigantic file size. This would make it cumbersome to work with and edit on a slow computer.

rat race

Vector images

Vector images are images that are based on a mathematical formula. As a result, they can be scaled to any size without losing quality. These images are created in programs like Adobe illustrator or Corel draw.

Advantages of vector art

Vector art has a tendency to look super slick. This makes it good for logo design and branding. The images never lose their quality no matter how large you print them. The file sizes tend to be small.

Disadvantages of vector art 

The art sometimes looks really cold. It can be too perfect at times.


I hope this article was useful. Let me know if you liked it in the comments below. Also let me know in the comments if there are any illustration questions that you might have that you want me to blog about.


Need mascot design or web banners? Feel free to contact me at darrellmordecai@gmail.com. I respond to all questions within 24 hours.


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