What is a Vector file?

While working with digital files, you probably come across terms like “bitmap”, “EPS”, SVG” or “Vector” a lot. Often one of the first things a designer does when starting a new project is to request a vector file of the client’s logo. “Well, why can’t the designer just get the logo from my website or use the image I’ve already sent?”, and “what is a vector?” is often the response.

This article will help to clarify what is (and what is not) a vector file, when and why to use one, and its importance among other image and file types. 

What is a vector? 

There are two ways to represent an image in the digital world: one is forming an image with a lot of dots (also known as pixels), the other is through geometry. 

Standard images such as photographs and most digital images are built using pixels. These images are called bitmaps, or raster images. Bitmaps are formed by tons of tiny color blocks, the pixels, which is why when you zoom in enough, you can identify each pixel individually. The most common file extensions for bitmap images are PNG, JPEG and GIF.  

The second way to build an image digitally is with vectors. Technically speaking, a vector graphic is an image constructed by dots and lines composed of mathematical formulas. In other words, a vector is formed by hundreds of thousands of tiny lines and curves (also known as paths).  For this reason, you can zoom indefinitely on a vector and it will never change, become blurry, or ‘pixelated’ and blocky as in a raster image.  

What elements make up a Vector Graphic? – Vector Anatomy

A more practical example: imagine a line. If this line is made of pixels, the design program builds the line using blocks (pixels) based on the desired image quality. If the line is a vector, the app will simply define the start point and the ending point, and the line itself will be mathematically generated between them. 

The most used vector file extensions (or file types) are SVG, PDF, EPS, CDR, and AI. Since Gravit Designer is a vector editing app, a file with a .gvdesign extension is also a vector file. 

Most common vector file extensions  SVGScalable Vector Graphics is an XML-based vector image format for the web. XML is a much-used markup language that is readable by both humans and machines, and SVG files are supported by all modern browsers. It’s a common format used for logos, icons, buttons, and especially for animations.  EPS: Encapsulated PostScript is an older vector format used by drawing software to describe how to produce layouts, images, or drawings. The modern AI format from Adobe was based on the EPS extension.  PDF: Portable Document Format is a PostScript-based format created by Adobe, very commonly used in the print industry for its flexibility and capacity to retain the exact appearance and layout of documents saved in this format.  AIAdobe Illustrator is a proprietary extension developed by Adobe for the Illustrator software, but is supported by many other design programs and is commonly used among designers. CDR: originally a proprietary extension developed by Corel, CDR files consist of a ZIP-compressed directory of several files, among them XML files and RIFF-structured formats. It is now widely used and supported across many design programs.

Note all these formats can be imported and edited on Gravit Designer. Gravit’s own file extension, the .gvdesign, is also a vector file extension. 

What is the difference between vectors and other images? 

The main difference between vector and raster images is the dependency on size or resolution. As mentioned previously, if you zoom in too much on a bitmap, you can see all its forming pixels,

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