CLK Media Ltd

Design • Print • Display

WHAT ARE BITMAPS AND VECTORS?

There are two main graphic types - bitmap graphics and vector graphics. Bitmap graphics are made up of pixels of different colours, whereas Vector graphics are made up of objects.



Vector graphic

Vector graphics are created in graphics packages and consist of shapes called objects. It is possible to edit each object separately, for example, change the shape, colour, size and position. Even if an object in a vector graphic is quite large, it doesn't need a lot of computer memory. Therefore the file size of a vector graphic is often very small. Vector graphics are scalable - i.e. when you resize them, they do not lose quality.



Bitmap Graphic

When you take a photograph using a digital camera or scan an image from a magazine, you are creating a bitmap graphic. A bitmap graphic is composed of many tiny parts, called pixels, which are often many different colours. It is possible to edit each individual pixel. Since the computer has to store information about every single pixel in the image, the file size of a bitmap graphic is often quite large. When you resize a bitmap graphic, it tends to lose quality.





Bitmap or Vector?

When deciding whether an image should be a bitmap or vector graphic, you should ask yourself the following questions:

  • Does the image need to be resized?
  • Does the image need to be drawn to scale?
  • Do you need the image to look real?
  • Do you have any restrictions on the file size?
  • Note that it is possible for an image to use a combination of vector and bitmap elements.

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