Difference Between Vector And Bitmap Images

Difference between Vector and Bitmap images
As a Designer, it’s important to know the difference between Vector and Bitmap images. But before we move into that part of our discussion, let us first consider the different kinds of graphics used in advertising and marketing media.

Graphics is used to communicate an idea or a concept. Sometimes the idea can be simple which can be explained with the use of a photograph. But more often than not, the idea or concept could be complex in nature and would require more than a photograph. Yes of course, there are words that can be used to explain such ideas. But visuals play an important role in understanding something which is abstract where words may not help much. For example graphs, maps, scientific illustrations to name a few.

These two kinds of graphics form the basis of file formats or types they have, namely Vector and Bitmap images, because some have to be created rather than photographed. Keeping this in mind let us now proceed to main point.

Let’s understand the difference between Vector and Bitmap images.

Bitmap Images

Basically, any image that is a photograph or a scanned copy is a Bitmap image. These images are stored in pixels. Pixels are small blocks of color that form an entire image when mapped together on a picture plane. It gets its name from the color and its location information mapped on the picture plane in bits, which is the storage unit for data on computers. Hence the name Bitmap.

Vector Images

Vector Images are created on a computer using Vector Graphic creation applications. These applications use dots, lines, curves, shapes and polygons created using mathematical algorithms to form images. Unlike pixel based images, shapes in vectors are completely editable. Vector images has some amazing features which is discussed further.

Difference between Vector and Bitmap File Format extensions.

Popular Raster Format Extensions:

  • JPEG or JPG (Joint Photographic Expert Group)
  • GIF (Graphics Interchange Format)
  • PNG (Portable Network Graphics)
  • BMP (Bitmap)
  • TIFF (Tagged Image File Format)

Popular Vector Format Extensions

  • EPS (Encapsulated PostScript file)
  • AI (Adobe Illustrator File)
  • CDR (CorelDraw File)
  • DXF (Drawing Interchange Format)
  • SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics)

Unlike Raster Image formats, some Vector Image formats are application native and can be difficult to open in other Vector Applications. EPS among these is a format which can be opened and edited in several applications.

Which one is better?

Vector images scores over the Raster images in many ways. Vector Images are completely resizable without loss of quality, because they are resolution independent. Raster images on the other hand are resolution dependent and cannot be sized up or down extensively without degrading the picture quality.

The file size of a Vector image is comparatively less than a Bitmap one.

Vector Images are completely editable where the shapes and colors can be changed, deleted or created using a Vector application; without affecting the picture quality. Bitmap editing applications too exist, but these may be able to edit the raster images up-to an extent and not entirely like Vectors.

Raster image file formats are not completely beatable though. Photo-realistic images can be represented better using Raster Formats – photographs. Vectors on the other hand may not appear photo-realistic, though simple objects if recreated carefully can replicate realistic images. Realistic graphics created in Vector images share all the advantages of Vector formats like resolution independence.

Choosing between Raster and Vector Images.

It’s rather simple. If a photograph can communicate your idea or concept you should stick to Bitmap images.

Logos, Icons, Clipart and abstract images should be purely Vectors. Vectors can be ideal for Logos and Clipart as they may need to be scaled up to fit on something as small as a business card or perhaps on something as big as a billboard. Here, since we are using a Vector Format, the picture quality will remain intact regardless of the size.

So that’s that. For further reading, we have a helpful post which shows you ‘How to Convert Raster to Vector’. Please let me know if this information has been useful. I promise to keep posting useful stuff regularly.

I hope we’ve covered much, and you’ve learnt quiet a deal about the difference between Vector and Bitmap Images.

Images © Warren Goldswain – Fotolia.com