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What are vector graphics?

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› What are vector graphics?
  • Published on December 31, 2013

When it comes to graphics, there are two basic types of image - raster and vector. Knowing the strengths and weaknesses of both types of image is essential if you want to improve your employment prospects or launch a new career in design. Even if you don't realize it, you're probably already quite familiar with raster images, but what are vector graphics and how can Illustrator training help you understand how to work with these powerful images?

It's all about scale
Ever visited a webpage, only to notice that some of the images are distorted or unclear? That's probably because the site is using inappropriately sized raster images. Common file extensions used for raster images include .jpg, .bmp and .tif, and the quality of raster images depends on how many pixels - tiny square units that comprise the image - the picture has. The greater the number of pixels, the better the image quality. Of course, from a Web development perspective, larger images can take longer to load in a Web browser. Another drawback to raster images is that they can only be scaled to a certain degree before the image quality degrades.

As their name implies, vector graphics are not made up of pixels, but instead rely on mathematical data - or vectors - that defines things like curves, line weight and other elements. As vector graphics are composed of numerical information, they can be scaled up or down as much as you like, as the basic vectors that specify the parameters of the image never change.

Digital artistry
Adobe Illustrator training at the American Graphics Institute is the perfect first step for those wishing to learn more about the creation of vector graphics. Unlike image manipulation techniques such as those commonly used in Photoshop, composing vector graphics in Illustrator can be much closer to the traditional artistic experience. You can use a digital tablet to draw complex forms directly in Illustrator, before using tools like bezier handles to manipulate the qualities of everything from the shape of curves to the thickness of lines.

Illustrator is an essential tool for aspiring graphic designers to master, as without the ability to create unique artwork, you're left at the mercy of stock imagery or existing assets. Unleash your creative potential and master the fundamentals of this exciting program through Illustrator classes at the American Graphics Institute.

About the author

 is a user experience designer, Photoshop expert, educator and author based in Boston. She is the author of more than 20 books on design tools and processes, including Adobe Creative Cloud for Dummies, Adobe Creative Cloud Digital Classroom, and Photoshop Digital Classroom. She has been awarded a Microsoft MVP three times for her work with user experience design in creating apps for touch, desktop, and mobile devices.

Jennifer delivers UX training and UX consulting for large Fortune 100 companies, small start-ups, and independent software vendors. She has been hired by Adobe and Microsoft to deliver training workshops to their staff, and has traveled to Asia, Europe, India, the Middle East, and across the U.S. to deliver courses and assist on UX design projects. She has extensive knowledge of modern Windows UX Design, having worked closely with the Windows team to create educational material and deliver UX workshops to key partners globally on behalf of Microsoft. Jennifer works with a wide range of prototyping tools including Fireworks, Photoshop, Illustrator, Blend for Visual Studio, and Balsamiq.