When our customers begin the process of submitting designs for printing, we often find that there is confusion regarding the type of art files that we need to receive from them. The confusion seems to center around Vector graphics files. Most people who are not professional graphic designers do not know what Vector art is. Indeed, there are even some people working as graphic designers that do not know what vector graphics are.
We hope, in the following section, to help bridge this information gap.
What Is Vector Art?
Vector art is created using vector illustration software programs, such as Adobe Illustrator or Corel Draw. These programs use mathematic equations and geometric primitives (points, lines, and shapes) to create art that is clean, camera ready, and can be scaled infinitely, without any loss of quality or fidelity.
Scalability is one of the main reasons that Vector art files are so valuable to printers. The same art file can be used to reproduce your design on something as small as a business card, or something as large as a billboard, without any loss of quality.
In the following graphic, we will show the difference in appearance between Vector art and the other, more common type of computer graphic, Raster art:
You’ll notice how, in the Raster art example, the edges of the art become distorted when the picture is enlarged. You’ll also notice how there are hundreds of shades of green in the Raster file, but only one shade of green in the Vector file.
Raster Graphics can bephotographs, or graphics files created in Adobe Photoshop, Paint Shop Pro, and other Raster editing programs. In some instances, they can be used for some screen-printing applications, such as printing one-color “pen and ink” drawings. But in most cases, especially with art such as logos, we will need Vector art to achieve the proper print.
Is My Art Vector?
How can you tell if your art is Vector Art? One way is by the file type. Modern vector art is usually created in Adobe Illustrator, and is commonly saved with certain file extensions. The four most common Vector file extensions are .ai, .pdf, .eps and .svg.
However, just because a file is saved in one of these formats, does not mean that it is truly vector art. Sometimes, people open raster files in Adobe Illustrator, and re-save the file in a vector format, without recreating the art using the vector editing tools. Only art originally created in a vector editing program, such as Adobe Illustrator, is truly vector art.
So, how do you really know if your art file is a vector art file? The only way to know for sure is to open the file, and check to make sure that it was created as vector art. If you have a vector editing program, open your art file, and use the selection tool on an area within the art. You might see something like this:
See the nodes surrounding the letterform? Those are vector editing nodes. If you see those, congratulations! You have vector art.
Easy enough, if you have the proper software. But most people do not own a copy of a vector editing program. In which case, you will need to find someone who does, and get them to check the file for you.
My Art Isn’t Vector! What Now?
The file that you have might not be the only one out there. If you had a professional designer create your art, chances are they created your design as vector art, but could have neglected to provide you with the vector files. Contact your designer, and ask for the vector files. If you work in a large company, contact your company’s marketing department or design department. They will probably have the files that you need.
If, after all of this, you discover that you have a non-vector art file, and you need vector art, there’s only one thing to do: Hire a graphic designer to re-create your design as vector art.
When hiring a designer, make sure that they will provide the art in both vector and raster formats. If they are unable to do so, hire a designer that can.
We hope that we have demystified vector art a little bit. If you have any questions, or would like a free art consultation, please feel free to call us at 828-253-9420, contact us using the form below, or drop by the shop in person. We’re always happy to help.