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Home / News / Vector vs. Raster Images: Understanding the Difference Between the Formats

Vector vs. Raster Images: Understanding the Difference Between the Formats

By Charlotte | Follow twitter | Updated on July 6, 2023

Every content creator working with visuals will come across vector and raster images—the two most common file formats available on the market. Whether for creating digital photos or graphic designs for personal, creative, or commercial projects, it is best to know the difference between the two; all to use the right medium for each and produce the highest quality content possible.

To understand what purposes in design raster images and vector graphics serve, you must first learn their key characteristics. All of this information, as well as similarities and differences between the two, may be found in this article. Keep reading to find out more!

Difference between vector and raster

What Is a Vector Image?

A vector image is a digital graphic created with the help of vector-based computer software. It is made up of mathematically defined points, lines, and shapes. As a result, a vector file format allows content creators to change colors, shapes, text, and other design elements more quickly. Because of their mathematical nature, vectors can be infinitely scaled down or up without loss of resolution. They are also lightweight as a result of this. Vector images are available in a variety of formats, with the most common being SVG, AI, EPS, and PDF.

Typically, creators search for vectors on stock content platforms like Depositphotos, which offer millions of audiovisual files ready for commercial and noncommercial use. Browse https://depositphotos.com/stock-vectors.html to download high-quality, affordable graphics for your artistic endeavors. However, some designers create vector art from scratch to make a wholesome picture that will later be used as a central piece of design, concept, or other creative format.

What Are Vector Graphics Used for?

Vector graphics are usually utilized in graphic design for commercial and creative purposes. Their functionality allows creators to quickly adapt different visual elements to marketing needs, producing graphics of varying sizes while maintaining high-resolution quality. Vector art is, therefore, appropriate for responsive web design, marketing collateral, brand merchandise, geometric designs, typography, logos, business cards, and billboards.

What Is a Raster Image?

A raster or bitmap image is a two-dimensional digital file made up of pixels typically used to capture detailed graphics or digital photos. Raster visuals are usually defined by image width and height in pixels and by the number of bits per pixel, e.g., 640x480px. As raster images are pixel-based visuals, their quality depends on the number of pixels stored in the file. Therefore, the more pixels they contain, the higher the image's resolution.

On the negative side, the number of pixels influences the file size. Hence, high-quality, detailed pictures can weigh a lot, making them less practical than vector graphics. The file format determines the number of pixels in a raster image. The most common raster file formats are JPEG, PNG, and GIF.

What Are Raster Files Used for?

Raster images are usually used to store and display digital photographs, detailed graphics, or scanned artwork because they are more accessible and easily shareable. Unlike vector graphics, raster pictures are great for complex compositions with undefined lines and shapes, as well as subtle color gradations or complex color blends. Therefore, they are often utilized for printed materials.

Differences between Raster and Vector


Raster graphics are more accessible than vector graphics. Raster images are available in a variety of formats, including JPEG, PDF, PNG, and GIF. They are easy to view online and open on most devices without the need to download additional software. In addition, they are easily shared online, particularly on social media. Vector files, on the other hand, require vector-based software to open and work with them.


Even though raster graphics have a broader color spectrum and allow for more complex composition with greater light and shading display than vector visuals, they lose quality when resized. Enlarging a raster picture will most likely cause it to become blurry or pixelated. The resolution of a vector file doesn't change when scaled; therefore, vector graphics are better suited for design projects that require constant resizing. However, vector graphics differ from raster images in color representation since they do not provide delicate color gradients.

File size

One of the main differences between raster and vector graphics is their file size. Raster pictures are large in size due to the number of pixels stored in them. Larger and more detailed raster images have more pixels, and, as a result, better picture quality, but they are heavier. In contrast, vector visuals take up less space despite their size and the number of different design elements in the picture.


The mathematical formulas that underpin vector graphics allow designers and content creators to scale these files up or down to any size they desire. Raster pictures are pixel-based graphics; therefore, they do not scale well. When you enlarge them, you’ll notice heavy pixelation, which can degrade the overall quality of your project.

File types

Rasters and vectors have different file and extension types. Raster files can be saved and edited in JPEG, PDF, GIF, PNG, TIFF, PSD, and BMP formats. Each has its own display settings that affect its size and resolution. Raster graphics are generally easier to open and view online and across devices.

Vector files are more difficult to access and work with because they require vector-specific software, such as Adobe Illustrator, CorelDRAW, or Affinity Designer. The most common vector graphics file types are AI, EPS, SVG, and PDF. You can convert a PDF to a DXF vector file if needed.


Vector images are ideal for scalable graphics, such as logos, banners, typography, and web design; however, they are not as good when it comes to displaying digital photos. Therefore, vectors are better for line art images and graphic designs requiring quick text, color, and shape editing.

Contrastingly, raster graphics are ideal for displaying digital photographs, detailed drawings, and scanned artwork. The wide color spectrum of raster images provides subtle color gradients and complex color mixing, which are highly valued in print materials.

To Sum Up

Whatever your design needs are, use vector and raster graphics based on this comprehensive guide. Choosing the right medium for each file format can help you and your team work more efficiently while also producing high-quality designs for your clients.

Charlotte has been in the software industry for 8+ years. She works for AWZWARE now as a passionate writer. She is good at providing simple guides to use various video, office and entertainment software. Charlotte also recommends many other useful tools to make your work and life easier. A food lover too.

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