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What Is A Vector File?

Image files can come in many shapes and sizes, and not only that but they can come in unique formats or file extensions. The two types of image files you’ll see are rasters and vectors. Knowing when to use which type of image file is extremely important to anyone looking to build a well-developed brand or website. We’ll take a more indepth look at what a vector file is, but to do that we need to take a look at both types of image files first.


Raster Files vs. Vector Files

Raster files are made up of thousands of different pixels on a grid, each pixel a specific color. The pixels are put together to create the image or logo you see. An example of how a raster image works is if you can imagine taking a photo with your digital camera and zooming in on it. If you were to zoom into the image you would be able to see each individual square or pixel, which creates the whole image. Blowing up the image will cause it to blur and become a grainy version of what it once was.

Vector files on the other hand are mathematically built by lines and curves. This means that the images can be resized without losing any of the sharpness or quality, this flexibility makes it great to use for high quality images. Most logos and branding images should be designed in vector formats to help those images not lose quality when scaling or resizing for websites, billboards, business cards, etc. Vector files can also be easily converted to JPG and PNG formats, versus the other way around of getting a raster into a vector.


The Differences Between File Type Extensions

Knowing the difference between the file type extensions will also help you identify which is a raster and a vector. The most commonly seen raster file types are JPG, PNG, and GIF, while vector file types can come in PDF, SVG, and AI. We’ll look closer at the vector file types.


  • PDF: Portable Document Format. PDFs are probably the most familiar vector file type. Originally created with Adobe systems, many programs can now work with PDF files as it looks the same across platforms.
  • SVG: Scalable Vector Graphics. A modern format that is commonly used online because they’re easy to place and look great on different displays and devices. They’re commonly used for logos, icons, and buttons.
  • AI: Adobe Illustrator. These files are created by Adobe, specifically for their software, where it gets their name from. Adobe Illustrator is a popular graphics editing program that is used to design apps, logos, illustrations, and much more.


You’re probably wondering why vector files are so important? Well to recap, vector image files are very versatile, making them extremely useful in print and modern design work. It helps when you want to showcase an image across multiple platforms and still retain it’s high quality. Whether it is having your logo on a website to printing it off on a business card, having that image saved as a vector file will allow for minimum quality reduction. Even if you don’t have the specific programs needed for certain files (PDF readers or AI), keeping these files on hand will help you when looking to have more graphic design work done or wanting to have your logo put on promotional items and other needs.

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