Bitmap (Raster) vs. Vector Based Artwork

What's the Difference?
Terms Explained
  • Bitmap files: images are exactly what their name says they are: a collection of bits that form an image. The image consists of a matrix of individual dots (or pixels) that all have their own color (described using bits, the smallest possible units of information for a computer).

  • Vector files: sometimes called a geometric file, most images created with tools such as Adobe Illustrator and CorelDraw are in the form of vector image files. Vector image files are easier to modify than raster image files (which can, however, sometimes be reconverted to vector files for further refinement).

  • In computer graphics, a raster graphics image, or bitmap, is a dot matrix data structure representing a generally rectangular grid of pixels, or points of color, viewable via a monitor, paper, or other display medium. Raster images are stored in image files with varying formats.

Don't get too overwhelmed with this question but it is important, as a consumer, to know the difference. Whatever finished artwork you are working with will matter as to the end result in printing your items.

Bitmap artwork is generally made up of pixels, or "dots". The number of pixels in a particular image is fixed, meaning that if you increase the image size, the graphic application you may be using, does not just add pixels, instead it makes the pixels larger. Therefore if you decrease the image size, the software and/or application simply shrinks the pixels. Increasing the bitmap size can also compromise the quality of the artwork, making it appear jagged and/or fuzzy. Bitmap images can easily be distorted.

On the other hand, vector artwork is created in vector-based programs such as Adobe Illustrator. This type of artwork is defined mathematically as a series of nodes joined by lines. Each graphic element in a vector file is called an object and is made up of an outline. An outline is similar to a wire frame that serves as the object's root structure or skeleton. Each object is a self-contained entity with its own properties, such as color, shape, outline, size and position on the screen. Vector art will result in a sharper and cleaner image, specially when working with a companies logo.

The purpose of this article is to give you a brief overview as to some of the differences. If you are still not sure what to use, you may contact us directly and speak to our Sales team that will help you in determining what to use.

For addional questions please contact us direct at (562) 944-8333

Contact Us

Stith Printing Inc.
5130 Metric Way
Carson City, NV 89706-2453
P: (562) 944-8333
P: (775) 387-2110
P: (800) 490-8333
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