Raster vs Vector Graphics

Does it matter what type of file you use for your logo or other graphics? Does it matter if the file extension is a raster format, like .jpg, .png, or .gif? When should you use a vector format, like .svg, .eps, or .ai? Should I care about any of this?

Best for Logos and Text?
Beset for Photographs?

The short answer is: Yes, it matters, and read on to find out more!

What is the difference and why are there all these options?

Well, for logos and text, you want to be able to use them on many different things, and at many different sizes. That could be anything from tiny for business cards to medium sized mugs and clothing to huge event posters and banners. On all these things — You want smooth lines at all sizes.

Logos and text are usually made up of simple shapes, and vector graphics use mathematics to describe these shapes using lines and curves. The benefit of vector graphics is that those lines and curves can be made as small or large as you like, and they will be smooth at all sizes.

On the other hand, photographs are complicated graphics with subtle gradients of colors and complicated and/or blurry/blended shapes. These types of images are best saved by giving each point, or pixel, the exact color value it needs. You can sometimes make photographs smaller, and they may still look ok… But if you take a small photograph and make it large, chances are you’ll start to notice blocky edges and blurry lines. When you make the pixels bigger, you can start to see each one.

Here are some simple rules:

  • For Logos, vectors images are victors – use files such as .ai, .eps, and .svg
  • For Photos, raster images are the rule – best options typically include .jpg or .png

So, we now know that logos are best as vector images, and photographs are best as raster images. Can it work the other way? While you can use a raster image for your logo, the danger is that if you take a small logo and try to make it large, it may not look good at all! Similarly, even for photos, it is important to start with the highest resolution image possible. From the other perspective – you would rarely use a vector format for a photograph unless you wanted an artistic filter effect applied.

Most people don’t need to worry about these differences because their logos will already be in the correct format. But to put your mind at ease – know that we’ll check and we will work with you to make sure that you are using the best creatives. Let us handle the stress and make sure that the finished product will look “just right” at any size!