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All About Graphics

One of the most common misunderstandings among both clients, and unfortunately many designers, is the difference between Vector and Bitmap (also known as Raster) graphics.

Please note that when we refer to Bitmap and Vector graphics, we are not referring to any particular file format or extension. Though file formats are typically responsible for saving one type of graphic or another, the distinction between Vector and Bitmap is apart from that of file formats and extensions.

BITMAP or RASTER

Bitmap graphics are the most common graphic format in use on the web and, indeed, on the computer and every single graphic seen on the web is a Bitmap.

Bitmap graphics are composed of pixels, each of which contains specific color information. A pixel is minutely small; a single image may be composed of hundreds of thousands of individual pixels. Even so, when enlarged, a bitmap image will pixelate (show the square pixels from which it is made,) if it does not have enough resolution for the intended purpose.

VECTOR

Rather than being composed of pixels, Vector graphics consist of points, lines, and curves which, when combined, can form complex objects. These objects can be filled with solid colors, gradients, and even patterns.

Vector graphics are mathematical creations. For this reason, the programs that are used to create them save instructions on how the image should be drawn, rather than a map of pixels. This is the key difference between the two types of graphics. Because the computer has a description of how the image should look, it can be redrawn at any size, in any position, without losing any quality. A vector graphic resized to 5 times its original dimensions is simply reproduced, exactly, at the new size. It can also be freely manipulated without losing coherence, like a rubber band that can be stretched an infinite number of ways.

When designing / composing a label, all logos, illustrations, drawings and written type needs to be vector. If there are photo-quality backgrounds or other photographic images, they can be placed into the vector illustration and must have a resolution of at least 300 dpi (dots per inch.)

If a Bitmap graphic is opened with or pasted into a Vector editor, does it automatically become Vector?
Once a Bitmap graphic, always a Bitmap graphic. Although Vector applications are able to display Bitmap images as embedded objects (and many applications even include a limited set of tools to manipulate them) their inherant format does not change. The only way to convert a Bitmap image to a Vector image is to trace the image using either a manual process or automatic program. The tracing proccess attempts to duplicate the shapes of a Bitmap image using Vector lines and curves.

What are some common Vector editors and file formats?
Adobe Illustrator, Indesign and Corel DRAW! are the predominate programs. If you are using anything other than Adobe Illustrator, export the file to an .eps file prior to submission.

What are some common Bitmap editors and file formats?
Adobe Photoshop is the most popular Bitmap graphic program. Common bitmap file extensions include: .jpg, .gif, .png, .tff, and .bmp. Any photographs or other images should be sent to us as .jpg files of at least 300 dpi.

I only have my logo as a jpeg.
If we are designing your label, send all files you have related to your logo. It is possible you will not be able to open the .eps or .ai file because you do not have vector graphic programs installed.