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The difference between a Bitmap and Vector image

Friday, January 09, 2015 | Eva Pettifor |

The difference between a Bitmap and Vector image

There are two types of digital image files: Vector (preferred format for logos and illustrations) or Bitmap (preferred format for photos). Below are the main details on each format:

Vector

  • Construction: Scalable geometric points, lines and curves based on mathematical expressions
  • Popular file extensions: .ai, .eps but there are others
  • Examples: Logos, diagrams, fonts, illustrations, solid colour graphics
  • Transparency: is possible for example a logo with background removed so graphic is isolated
  • Scalability: unlimited enlargement size without any loss of quality (ie edges remain crisp and clear, ideal for signage, billboards and any other large format needs)

Bitmap (also known as Raster)

  • Construction: Tiny squares (pixels) for a computer screen or points of colour for printed media
  • Popular file extensions: .jpg, .gif, .tiff, bmp but there are others
  • Examples: Photos, graphics with many shades of colour, poor quality logos
  • Transparency: is not possible, there will be a solid background
  • Scalability: Poor, quality will degrade showing blurred content and rough edges (pixels) upon enlarging

Example

The following diagram demonstrates enlarging both formsts and the resulting difference between a vector file (crisp and clear) and a bitmap file (blurry and also with solid white background/rough edges). You will notice in each file's original/small form, both images appear quite crisp and clear but upon enlargement the bitmap file loses quality).

Vector vs Bitmap File


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