Vector or Bitmap?
The war between Vector and Bitmap graphics is relentless. Within the industry the Vector image reigns supreme with its precision geometry and adaptability for various technologies such as cnc routers, lasers and digital printers. On the other side you have Bitmap which brings stunning images and breathes life into digital print and screen. In the end neither file type is the real victor – they both do what they do well and work better together. Hopefully at the end of this blurb you may have a better understanding of these 2 graphic types.
A Vector file is a geometrical formula which can be scaled to nearly any size your computer is capable of. It works with nodes and bezier curves, I like to think of it as trains when describing it. The node is a train station and the bezier curve is the train track linking the stations thus forming shapes. Generally businesses will have a Vector logo to guarantee perfect re-creation whenever it is used. Another bonus of the Vector is that it doesn’t lose any memory within the file, no matter how many times it is used.
File types that commonly use Vector images are .eps (encapsulated post script) or .pdf (portable document format) files. You may need to have a graphic drawing program (such as Corel Draw or Adobe Illustrator) to view or edit them.
To the common folk, file types and resolution don’t mean that much when it comes to graphics. Most think “If it looks good on my screen it must be good enough to print, right!” Sadly it is not. Most images saved from the net are not high enough resolution to print in large formats, unless you specifically buy a hi-resolution image from sites such as Shutterstock. Resolution refers to the amount of pixels used to create your image. So if I were to say I have a 300dpi image, I mean that for every inch there are 300 dots of colour. Naturally the more dots being used the larger the Bitmap file will be. Just a warning though, some Bitmap file types such as jpegs degrade over their lifespan.
An easy way to differentiate between Bitmap and Vector images is to zoom as far into the image as possible. Any curved edge in the image should be perfectly smooth in a Vector. If it shows square steps along the curve it’s a pretty good sign of pixilation which is a Bitmap.
For the best quality print always make sure your images are High Resolution and that important graphics like your logo are Vector.