Vector vs. Raster

There are two main types of file formats in this world.


Raster files are images built from pixels — tiny color squares that, in great quantity, can form highly detailed images such as photographs. The more pixels an image has, the higher quality it will be, and vice versa. The number of pixels in an image depends on the file type (Ex: JPEGGIF, or PNG).


Vector files use mathematical equations, lines, and curves with fixed points on a grid to produce an image. There are no pixels in a vector file. A vector file’s mathematical formulas capture shape, border, and fill color to build an image. Because the mathematical formula recalibrates to any size, you can scale a vector image up or down without impacting its quality.

What is the difference between raster and vector files?

Raster and vector files are the two most popular formats used for visual content. They represent images in very different ways, so there’s a lot to consider when deciding which one to use. Some of the main differences between raster and vector include:


One of the main differences between raster and vector files is their resolution. The resolution of a raster file is referred to in DPI (dots per inch) or PPI (pixels per inch). If you zoom in or expand the size of a raster image, you start to see the individual pixels.

Raster files display a wider array of colors, permit greater color editing, and show finer light and shading than vectors — but they lose image quality when resized. An easy way to tell if an image is raster or vector is to increase its size. If the image becomes blurred or pixelated, it’s most likely a raster file.

With vector image files, resolution is not an issue. You can resize, rescale, and  reshape vectors infinitely without losing any image quality. Vector files are popular for images that need to appear in a wide variety of sizes, like a logo that needs to fit on both a business card and a billboard.