Beth Motta Design & Marketing

What does vector mean?

A new designer, publication or vendor may have requested “vector” artwork for your logo. Maybe you already gave them a jpeg, because it was all you had. What is a vector logo? I’m not going to bore you with too much detail, but here is a brief explanation I hope will help.

There are two types of digital image formats: vector graphics and rasterized images. Let’s start with rasterized.

Pixel perfect

Jpegs, gifs, and pngs are all examples of rasterized, or photo-based images. If you zoom in really close to a rasterized image, you can see that it is made up of many tiny dots called “pixels.” These pixels can be reduced in size without losing quality, but try to enlarge one and your image will become distorted and “pixilated.” Another important point—unless your rasterized image is square or rectangular in nature, your graphic may be on a white background, which can be hard to cleanly separate from the image itself. Pngs and gifs can be transparent. Jpegs cannot.

Get to the point

The opposite, vector images are made up of flat color shapes and “points”. You will not see tiny dots when zooming into a vector graphic. You will see solid shapes and smooth lines. The main advantage of having a vector logo is that even the smallest graphic can be enlarged to any size without sacrificing any quality at all. Digital imaging advancements have allowed designers to create photo-realistic effects in vector programs to mimic rasterized details. However, there are some instances where a rasterized logo is still more suitable.

BMD First LogoVector LogoRasterized Logo

How to spot a vector file

A vector logo can have a file extension, such as : “.eps,” “.pdf,” “.ai” or “.fh.” You may not be able to open one of these files without a design program (which is why your designer probably gave you a jpeg or png as well) but it is still good to have on hand for those third-party requests. Hope that clarifies any confusion!

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Beth is the owner, lead designer and developer of BMD&M. Beth blogs about design, development and DIY projects. When she's not blogging, she teaches as an adjunct instructor at a local college. Beth also tweets for BMD&M.

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