Vector art is a term that describes artwork created using a vector illustration software programs, such as Adobe Illustrator or Corel Draw. These programs use mathematic equations (which create points) to create art that is clean, camera ready, and can be scaled infinitely, without any loss of quality. Art that is created in Photoshop or any other program is not vector art it is bitmap or raster art. Raster art is pixel-based art which is why it can get jaggy or bitmapped when you enlarge it.
There are two main reasons you need a vector file.
1. It is scalable so you can make 1″ or 1000′ (or more) and it will not loose any quality.
2. It can be manipulated – ex. you can change the color
Think of vector art as pieces of paper stacked up on each other creating a design vs. a photo. In the stacked paper, you can remove one of the layers of the colored paper or take it out and replace it with another color. You cannot manipulate the photo in any way. It is a flat image.
See the photo below. You can easily see the difference between the low resolution JPG and the high resolution jpg. But the high resolution JPG and the Vector file look very similar. The high resolution JPG will work when printing on paper if the image is going to be small it will loose resolution when enlarged.
As you can see in the photo below we have zoomed in – the high resolution JPG is jagged while the vector art is crisp and clean. The more we enlarge the JPG image the more jagged it becomes. You can enlarge the vector art infinitely and it will always remain crisp and clean.
The last photo (below) shows what happens if we want to adjust the color or any part of the image. When you click on an image in an image editing program, it will show you the points which are used to adjust an image. On the JPG you will see there are 4 corner points – that means that we can only adjust the size of the image. While on the vector image, you will see hundreds of points. Each point is can be adjusted, changed or deleted to change the image. We can select a specific part of the image and change the color. With the JPG we can not adjust any part of the image, we can only adjust the size of the image as a whole.
Can I save my image file as an .eps to make it vector?
No, that just makes it an image file with a .eps extension. The only way to make a vector file is to “draw” it in an illustration program.
What extension does a vector file have?
A vector file can have a .ai, .eps, .crd or even .pdf extension. If the extensions .jpg, .tif, .png, .psd or .gif it is definitely not a vector file. But, remember, it is not the extension that makes it vector, it is how it was created. Just because it is a .eps file does not mean it is vector.