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Vector Format - What is it?

Welcome to the explanation of vector format. Vector format is commonly associated with artwork and printing but can be quite a foreign term to many.

Basic Explanation:

When a graphic is created using a graphic design program such as Adobe Illustrator, the graphic is usually created using many lines, curves, points and shapes.

Once the graphic is created the creator normally saves the files as an AI (Adobe Illustrator) or EPS (Encapsulated PostScript) or Editable PDF format, then the creator will export to an image format such as JPG, GIF or TIF so the graphic can be viewed and/or used by users who do not have graphic design programs.

The problem with a JPG or any other image formats is that the contents are flat and without definitive points, lines, curves etc, this means when an image is used for special printing process such as screen printing on lanyards, the printer only sees the square outline of the image.

Below we have provided an example screen shot of the difference between an image such as JPG and a vector format. (please note saving a JPG or other image format as AI, EPS or Editable PDF will not work as the image is still a flat image)

JPG Format

The below ID Supplies logo is in JPG format opened using Adobe Illustrator. As you can see the blue box around the logo is the reason JPG won't work as all the printer would see is a box.

Vector Format

The below ID Supplies logo is vectorised opened in Adobe Illustrator. As you can see the blue lines, curves and shapes are around everything, this means the print can see and print everything.

ID-Supplies-Logo-Vector-Explained-01.jpg ID-Supplies-Logo-Vector-Explained-02-1.jpg

As you can see from the above image JPG is also lower resolution and can severly affect the quality of the print.

Advanced Explanation (from Wikipedia)

Vector graphics is the use of geometrical primitives such as points, lines, curves, and shapes or polygon(s), which are all based on mathematical expressions, to represent images in computer graphics. "Vector", in this context, implies more than a straight line.

Vector graphics is based on images made up of vectors (also called paths, or strokes) which lead through locations called control points. Each of these points has a definite position on the x and y axes of the work plan. Each point, as well, is a variety of database, including the location of the point in the work space and the direction of the vector (which is what defines the direction of the track). Each track can be assigned a color, a shape, a thickness and also a fill. This does not affect the size of the files in a substantial way because all information resides in the structure; it describes how to draw the vector.

There are instances when working with vector tools and formats is the best practice, and instances when working with raster tools and formats is the best practice. There are times when both formats come together. An understanding of the advantages and limitations of each technology and the relationship between them is most likely to result in efficient and effective use of tools.

For further assistance or if you simply can't locate your original Vector format then please contact our artwork department to see if there is something we can do for you as there are programs that assist changing flat images into vector format, however this may come at an additional cost as the process can be lengthy.

Topics: Information