Vector Drawings versus Raster Graphics


There are 2 types of drawing programs on computers: vector or raster. Adobe Illustrator, InDesign, and CorelDraw are vector drawing programs, which can be enlarged, and they maintain their shape. Adobe Photoshop, CorelPaint, and SuperPaint are raster graphics, which are made up of pixels. If the image is enlarged, the pixels become enlarged and you can see them more easily. Photoshop and scanned images are dependent on resolution.

If you are going to use an image on a webpage, Facebook, or email blast, then a low resolution like 72 ppi (pixels per inch) is okay since they will be displayed on low-resolution monitors. But for printed materials, we require a higher resolution such as 300 ppi.

g-illustratorThe letter “g” was typed in Photoshop and Illustrator. Both are 72 pt. Arial Bold. They look similar when viewed actual size. But when you enlarge them, you can see the pixels in the Photoshop image. The edges of the Illustrator image remains crisp.

If you are designing a banner or poster in Illustrator, you can design it smaller and print it larger, as long as it doesn’t contain a placed image.

If you are designing a banner or poster in Photoshop, you have to design it the actual size you need in 300 ppi, or maintain a link to the original image when you place it.


Author Barbara Fanson has been a graphic designer for over 30 years.

About Sterling Education Centre

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