Raster vs. Vector: What’s the Difference?

When you design artwork for a garment you will be working with raster graphics or vector graphics. Both styles of graphic images have advantages and disadvantages. The real question is how to tell the difference between them and how to use them in your work. This guide gives you a basic understanding of the concept of raster and vector graphics.

What Are Raster Images?

A raster image is basically a bitmap. That bitmap has pixels (tiny dots of color) arranged in a particular order. When the overall bitmap is seen from afar it creates an image. The way that you can tell that it is a raster image is that you can zoom in on the image and see the tiny dots of color. Raster images have larger file sizes in general. The more pixels that are in an image the larger the file size. One of the issues with raster images is that when they get larger they lose their sharpness. It is typically better to shrink raster images.

What is a Vector Image?

A vector image is an image that is made with lines and shapes. These lines and shapes use mathematical principles to create them. The reason this is important is that when you scale a vector image up or down it will retain it’s proportions because it doesn’t matter what size it is, the mathematical principles adjust accordingly. 

Is it Possible to Convert the Two Types of Images?

Absolutely. When you convert a raster image into a vector it is called vectorizing. When you convert a vector image into a raster it is called rasterizing. The more common is vectorizing. A vector can easily be created from a raster image by using Adobe Illustrator. The image is imported into illustrator and then a function called Image Trace then the vector is saved as an EPS, or AI file. 

Which Type of Image is Good For DTG Printing?

It is possible to use both image types with DTG printing. Both work quite well. One of the benefits of DTG printing is that images with a lot of detail can be used. This is great for raster images. It is now possible to create gradients and fine lines on shirts. The quality of images with a DTG printer can mirror that of a photograph. 

The Final Word on Raster vs. Vector

When it comes to direct to garment printing it is possible to use both types of image. If you are looking for high resolution images then a raster image is the way to go. Vector images are great for logos. Either way you will be able to get the most out of both of them when you DTG.

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