What is a vector?

Updated: Dec 21, 2021


Have you ever heard the term ‘vector’ when going to get something printed?


If you are reading this with a puzzled face, because you have NO IDEA what I am talking about… don’t fret!


80% of the people we work with have NO IDEA what a vector is either – You are not alone!


That is why we have put together this ‘short and sweet’ blog to explain the confusing lingo and hopefully equip you with accurate knowledge that will save you time and confusion.


Let’s start with the obvious question…


What is a vector?

A vector is a digital shape made of lines and curves that create an image based on mathematical equations. Each line drawing is made up of points and angles to create images or logo designs that are resolution independent. This means that designers can make the vector image as big or small as you want without losing its clarity, resolution, or quality.


Now, at this point you might be wondering…


What is resolution? Why is it so important? And, why does it keep coming up?

Resolution is usually referred to when examining the clarity and sharpness of an image. The term ‘resolution’ in graphic design is “associated with the ink dots that make up your image, also referred to as electronic pixels. In graphic design, these pixels are called DPI (dots per inch).” The optimal DPI to be using for larger scale images is 300dpi. When you use an image that is lower resolution that this, you tend to get a blurry or pixelated image.


Not sure what we mean by this?

Let us show you!


Low Resolution VS high Resolution

The majority of people that supply images or designs (particularly those created in programs on their phone), supply us with an image that when scaled in size, looks like the one on the left (see below). This is quite clearly, low resolution. Just because it looks clear and crisp on your phone, doesn’t mean that it will stay that way when it is re-produced at a larger size.

The image on the left is an example of a 300dpi high resolution image. You can see there is quite a distinct difference between the low resolution & high-resolution versions.


Low Resolution High Resolution


So, getting back to the whole Vector situation…


Why are vectors so great?

The reason why designers LOVE vectors so much is because they are so versatile & flexible. You can use your vector image for whatever purpose, at whatever size and in whichever way without it losing its integrity, clarity or resolution.

Vectors don’t require 300dpi settings in the way that photographs do, they are not created using pixels and hence make life easy when re-producing your designs.


Amazing, right?!


So, how do you know if you have a vector?

Simple.

If you can zoom in really close without getting pixelation or losing clarity, it is likely a vector. And, if you are really not sure, let us have a look! We are always happy to check for you.



We hope you found this helpful!

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