Vector format: what it is used for

Vector Raster

You have probably heard of the vector format countless times, but have you ever really wondered what the vector format is and what its real uses are?

In this article, we will try to bring some clarity to your thoughts and offer you a 360-degree overview of the vector format, focusing on what you care about.

Before explaining what the vector format is, you need to know that there are two types of digital images: raster and vector.

Raster vs. vector format: what's the difference?

We’ll tell you about it in the video above, and Lorenzo also explained it well in the article on the differences between raster and vector graphics, but let's go over the matter quickly!

What is a Raster Image?

By raster images (or bitmaps), we mean photographic images (taken, for example, with a smartphone), which can be in JPG, PNG, GIF, or TIFF format. These types of images are composed of colored pixels, that is, single invisible dots that make up a figure.

Raster images have their own size and resolution. therefore, when enlarged beyond their original size, they suffer a loss of detail and appear grainy or indented. In fact, increasing the size of a raster image reveals a very unpleasant visual effect called pixilation. The main advantage of a raster image, however, is that due to the millions of pixels that compose it, it can represent various details. Think about when you take a photograph, due to millions of pixels you can capture any detail.

What is a vector image?

The vector images are instead described through a set of geometric primitives that define points, lines, curves, and polygons. The vector format is defined through mathematical equations and is independent of the resolution. in fact, it can be enlarged indefinitely without suffering the loss of quality and definition. For example, a vector logo (consisting of paths) can be used both on a business card and on an advertising billboard, keeping the details unchanged.


The vector format also has high efficiency in file size. in fact, the weight of a document is lower than a raster and can be sent from one computer to another faster.

All the advantages of the vector format

Obviously, you don't always have to work with vector graphics. There are cases in which, however, working in the vector is extremely useful, if not necessary.

This is because working in a vector format offers several advantages.

1. Vector graphics are infinitely scalable

As previously mentioned, vector graphics are pixel-free, therefore independent of resolution. Objects can be scaled to infinity and printed in any size without loss of quality or definition.

A logo in vector format can be printed both on an A4 sheet and on a 3-meter billboard while keeping the definition unchanged.

That's why, to design a logo, you must always work in vector.

2. Vector graphics allow you to change colors quickly and easily

Within vector image processing software such as Illustrator, it is possible to quickly change the colors that make up a logo or graphic.

For example, it is possible to change the color of an object by changing from an RGB color method to a Pantone color (particularly used in some printing processes).

3. The vector offers the possibility to display the contours of a drawing

Another advantage of the vector format is the ability to view only the outlines that makeup work. This display mode is very important in the design phase because it allows you to find any hidden or invisible elements in the preview. The outline is also functional for companies specialized in digital printing because it allows you to guide the equipment to obtain incisions or cuts.

Vector graphics programs: which one is the best?

Now that you have learned the potential of this format let's try to understand which are the best programs for making vector graphics.

When we start to approach the vector format, one of the most used software was CorelDRAW.


In reality, the CorelDraw suite was not only designed for vector graphics but also included a photo editor and a library of 10,000 digital images. The software was and is developed only for the Windows platform, and this represents one of the main disadvantages for many graphic designers.

If you get closer to the Mac environment, and this allowed you to definitively abandon CorelDRAW in favor of another vector graphics program: Macromedia FreeHand.


FreeHand was a very well done professional vector graphics editor. One of the strengths of this software was the relatively simple and light interface, which allowed us to work well even on not particularly fast computers.


Following the acquisition of Macromedia by Adobe, Freehand was no longer actively developed. In fact, Adobe chose to privilege its historical product, Illustrator, which in many functions did not have the ability to use, potential, intuition equal to that of the now ex-competitor FreeHand.

Adobe Illustrator quickly became the industry standard, and we can guarantee you that it is currently the best vector graphics program.

Why is Illustrator the best software to create and manage vector graphics?

1. The best professionals in the sector use it.

2. It integrates perfectly with the other software of the house (Photoshop, InDesign, After Effects, Flash) offering an optimal workflow.

3. It has a simple and intuitive interface.

4. It offers many more features than other software and has thousands of online resources.

What are the existing vector formats?

To learn how to work with vector graphics, you need to know the most common vector image formats that allow you to maintain an infinitely scalable design.


Let's analyze them together:


1.  AI: Standard Adobe Illustrator save format. The AI ​​format is compatible with Adobe's Creative Cloud software (Photoshop, InDesign, After Effects) and with some 3D graphics programs (Cinema 4D).

2.  EPS: It is a standard format for processing vector and bitmap images and drawings. The format is compatible with Adobe Illustrator, CorelDraw, Freehand, Photoshop, InDesign, and QuarkXPress.

3.  SVG: Image format for vector graphics. It means Scalable Vector Graphics and is obtainable through Illustrator. You can also use the SVG format on the web to create scalable and adaptable elements to any web page.

4.  PDF: Format developed by Adobe, it is the most popular for sharing text documents and images. A specific reader is required for viewing: Acrobat Reader, distributed free of charge. A vector file can be saved in PDF and processed with the main graphics software such as Illustrator, PhotoshopVector Raster, and InDesign.

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Feb 03, 2020

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