Published on Jan 23, 2020

Vector Background Images

License Info: Creative Commons 4.0 BY-NC

Often, when our customers submit art for printing, we find that they have no idea what a Vector file is. Most individuals that are not professional graphic designers do not have a clue what Vector art is (and why should they) and most companies do not have graphic designers on staff. There are even some people working as graphic designers, who do not know what a vector file is. (OK, now that is sad.)

Hopefully we can eliminate some of the confusion and answer the question… What is Vector Art. We will describe, as best we can, what vector art is, and how you can recognize it.

Vector art is one of the two forms of art used by computers, the other form being bitmap art (raster). Bitmap art is identified with file names ending in .gif, .bmp, .jpeg, .jpg, .png, and .pcx. Vector art files are typically saved as .eps, .ai, or .cdr files. Vector art is mathematical algorithms created using software programs, such as Adobe Illustrator, Freehand, Corel Draw, Quark and a few others. These programs use mathematic equations and geometric primitives (points, lines, and shapes) to create art that is clean, camera ready, and can be scaled infinitely, without losing any quality or clarity. The same art may be used for a business card, to a poster, to a billboard.

A bitmap file (raster), is a dot matrix data structure it uses pixels (small dots or squares of color) to create an overall image. Rather it is called Raster images or bitmap files they are the same thing.

A bitmap is technically characterized by the width and height of the image in pixels and by the number of bits per pixel (a color depth, which determines the number of colors it can represent).

The Raster art file has rough, pixilated edges. The art becomes distorted when the picture is enlarged. Every time you edit the file it loses some of it’s clarity.

Raster Graphics, such as photographs, and graphics files created in Adobe Photoshop, Paint Shop Pro, and other Raster programs, can be used for some screen printing applications or digital printing. In most cases, especially with art such as logos and numerous colors printers need Vector art to achieve the quality print that you want and expect.

Common Questions:

1. Can we convert a.BMP,.GIF or.JPG to vector?

Unfortunately no. A bitmap file is created differently and just like putting another cover on a book, you still have the same pages inside.

2. Converted a Photoshop file to.EPS, why can’t you use this as vector art?

Vector art images use lines to create images, photographs can’t normally be turned into a vector image. A bitmap or raster file uses dots, they are not created in the same manner. In a vector file everything is a separate item. If you have an apple with a worm in it you can change the apple to green at anytime and the worm can become a tiger if you so choose without altering or affecting the other object.

Vector art must have been created as a vector file. You cannot take a raster file created in Photoshop (for example) and save it with an.eps,.ai., or.cdr extension and have it magically become a vector file. Once a bitmap always a bitmap unless recreated or traced.