Vectors or Pixels?

Vectors or Pixels?

Vectors or pixels?

vectors or pixelsIt’s a question we get from clients who have done a little homework on their own. Usually, they are asking because they are trying to figure out what they need for their logo… but we do get the question with regards to other projects. Some clients just don’t want to deal with the headache of wondering what their printer really needs. Here’s the breakdown of the vectors vs. pixels scenario…

Pixels: Tiny Dots That Make a Picture

Vectors or pixels - pixel artwork

Pixels are tiny colored dots that make up an image. If you zoom in on a photograph, for example, you will see that at some point, the image will turn into a sea of tiny colored squares. All photos are pixel-based.  You can’t zoom in on photos infinitely, right? Pixel-based images are good for photo illustrations and graphics that won’t need to be blown up into huge sizes. You will need pixel-based images of your logos, but not until they have been developed as vector artwork first. Keep reading…

Vectors: Mathematical Illustrations

Vectors or pixels - vector artworkVector. Sounds mathematical, right? That’s because vectors ARE mathematical. Vector artwork is made up of a series of dots and lines. Each line and each dot has a math equation associated with it to tell the computer how the dots and lines relate to each other. This means that no matter how infinitely you zoom in on vector artwork, it will never become pixelated, because the computer will be able to plug in new numbers for whatever size you would like to assign to your object.

Can vectors become pixels?

Yes, easily. It’s a simple matter of saving vector artwork in pixel format (like a JPG or a PNG). You may also hear people say the word “rasterize”. Converting a vector image to a pixel-based image is called “rasterizing”.

Can pixels become vectors?

It depends. Most vector programs can now convert images to become vector artwork, but it may not be a pretty picture. If you started with a low resolution, full-color photograph, expect poor results. Conversions work best when you have a high-resolution image with simple color combinations.

So… vectors or pixels?

It isn’t that simple… it just depends on what you want. For a logo, vectors. For photos, pixels. Vector artwork will come off as illustration, so if you are looking to get an illustrated feel, ask for vector artwork. Pixels are for photographs. Also, if you are putting images up on a website, you will need pixel-based images, even if the originals are vectors.

When you are submitting a project to print, be sure to ask your printer or manufacturer what kind of artwork they will need. Screen printing and embroidery projects, for example, will require vector artwork.

Still not clear whether you need vectors or pixels? Want more information? Drop us a line!


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Carolyn Byard

Carolyn is Iconic's art director and office dog handler. She strives to build unicorns, and she is completely obsessed with the fusion of beautiful design with strong strategy for unforgettable user interfaces.