Raster and Vector – Why should I care?

by Jack Parry May 30, 2021

When your graphic artist asks you for a Vector version of your logo, do you have one to give them, do you know what that is and do you even care?

Let’s start with a few definitions. 

Raster artwork is any digital art composed of horizontal and vertical rows of pixels. As a result, when raster images are enlarged, the image quality diminishes significantly. Typical raster file types include .psd, .tif, .jpg, .gif, and .bmp. These files are mainly for continuous tone artwork like photographs and paintings. Photoshop is the main program that you will use to create raster artwork.

Vector artwork is digital art composed of mathematical lines and curves. As a result, vector images can be reduced or enlarged in size indefinitely, without any loss in image quality. Typical vector file types include .ai, .eps, .pdf, and .cdr. AI stands for Adobe Illustrator and is one of the most common programs to create vector artwork. Another is Corel Draw.

OK, that is the difference between the two but why should you care and what can you do about it.

Your logo should be created in Adobe Illustrator or Corel Draw so that you will have a Vector version of it. Your logo will be used in several ways. From the size of a business card all the way up to the side of a truck wrap. Using a vector version of your file is the best way to make sure your logo look crystal clear and not pixellated.

If you do not have a vector version, the first place you should look is the graphic designer that created your logo. If they were professional (as opposed to your teenage nephew’s friend), they should have given you multiple files of your logo. Unless you have the design software, you won’t be able to open the Adobe Illustrator file but don’t throw it away. 

When a publication or other professional graphic designer asks you for your logo, it is always a safe bet to send them the Illustrator file. When in doubt, send everything you have in your company logo folder and let them sort it out.

If you were not given a vector version of your logo when it was originally designed and the original graphic designer can’t help you with that, the next best thing is to send it to a company that specializes in creating vector logos right from your current raster file. These companies are extremely reasonable and do a great job. Then from that point forward, you have what you need.

Another good reason to have your logo in vector is so that if you want to place it on a color background you won’t have that annoying white box behind your logo like you will with a jpg file.

Nothing screams DIY graphic design like your logo on a white box (touching the edges of the white box) on a color background. Not judging but it may be time to review how your logo is being used. It is your image so it is always a good idea to make your logo look good.

Raster logos (why even have them)

These types of logos are needed as well. If you want to put your logo on your website, social media pages or even your powerpoint presentations you can use a raster file. The best way to use it is with a PNG (or Ping) file. You need to convert your logo to RGB (Red, Green, Blue) color space to save as a PNG file.

Since you are using it for on-screen presentations, that is best anyway. PNG files can be saved with a transparent background. Again, this is so you can place your logo onto a different color background without that annoying white square.

Just a thought, the area around your logo is important too. Don’t have any other design element that close to your logo. Give it some space. Be careful of placing your white logo on top of a photograph. The photo may be very busy and your logo gets lost in the shuffle. Also know that while it is fun to put filters, drop shadows, glows and other effects onto your logo, again be careful. Readability and logo recognition are the most important factors.