Vector (Scalable) vs Raster (Bitmap) images – what is the best for printing?

Good sticker design is always time consuming and requires some basic understanding of graphic design.

We can print some text, cartoon characters or family photos. But how to be sure in good quality of your print?

For this, you need to understand what is Raster image and Vector image, what is advantage and disadvantage and what image is best for you.

Raster or Bitmap Image

Such images are pixel based and the density of pixels is measured in DPI (Dots per pixel).  Higher DPI – better quality of your image is in a close look.

Think about photos – they perfectly represent what we can see. Photo is a great example of a complex image. But is it good for printing? If you open any photo in your browser and will zoom it, you will see that the image starts getting blurry and pixelated. It is not a problem if you print a small photo but can be a big problem for big advertising print because people standing few meters away from the banner will barely recognize the image.

Here is an image which looks nice on a first glance but if we zoom in, we will see huge pixels (right side).

 

 

 

 

 

Same can happen with your stickers or other print – it will look nice from far but bad from a close look.

If you need to print the raster image and vector is not an option, try to use some online DPI calculators to figure out the optimal DPI and image resolution for your print.

Most Popular Raster / Bitmap File Formats

  • PNG
  • JPG or JPEG
  • GIF
  • PSD
  • TIFF

Most Popular Image Editing Tools

Vector Image (SVG)

And here Scalable Vector Graphic comes to the stage.

Vector images have no pixels. Behind, they are like a set of commands so image viewers and browsers know how to render the image using these commands. SVG is great for text or simple cartoon graphics. All our gallery images are SVG, you can resize them in Editor without losing the quality and you can print them in literally any size without worrying about quality loss.

Think about simple primitives like circle – do we really need the pixels to represent the circle? Why not to delegate the drawing process to the browser or image viewer?

SVG image is like a text file (taken from W3Schools):

<svg height=”100″ width=”100″>
  <circle cx=”50″ cy=”50″ r=”40″ stroke=”black” stroke-width=”3″ fill=”red” />
</svg>

Browser or image viewer will render a perfect red circle with black border based on the commands above. And when you will zoom it, you will never see any pixels or quality loss.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If SVG is so great, why can’t we use it for photos and to forget about raster images? The answer is simple – it is impossible to represent complex photo as a set of commands. Here raster image wins.

Tools like Adobe Illustrator, can convert raster image into vector image (Image Trace) and result can be good if your image is simple, like logo or fancy text. But for photos, it can look actually ugly.

Most Popular Vector File Formats

  • SVG
  • AI
  • PDF
  • ESP

Most Popular Image Editing Tools

Conclusion

Raster and Vector graphics each serve their own purpose.

As a rule of thumb, Vector image (SVG) is used for simple graphics like text, company logos, cartoon characters etc. It is scalable without quality loss. Try to use it whenever possible.

Bitmap images (PNG, JPG etc) are great for complex images like photos.

At YoSticker, we recommend to upload the SVG images so your stickers or other prints will look great in any size.

If SVG is not an option for you, try to make sure that your raster image has the highest dimension possible. 400 DPI should be good.

If you have low quality image and you expect large sticker or media print, the quality can be so so.

When you upload non-SVG file, we always warn you with the message as a reminder to upload SVG if possible.

We hope this article make things clearer for you and you learned something new!

 

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