There are different types of graphic formats with advantages and disadvantages. The two most commonly used types of graphics are bitmap and vector graphics.
- Bitmap images comprise individual pixels, while vector images are created using mathematical formulas to define shapes and paths.
- Bitmap images lose quality when scaled up or down, while vector images can be resized without any loss of quality or resolution.
- Bitmap images are ideal for complex, detailed images like photographs, while vector images are suitable for simple graphics, logos, and illustrations.
Bitmap vs Vector
Bitmap images are made up of pixels and are resolution dependent, while vector images are made up of mathematical equations and are resolution independent. Bitmaps are better for photographs and other images with gradients and intricate details. Vectors are better for logos, illustrations, and other graphics that need to be resized without losing quality.
Vector images are made up of lines and curves combined to form a whole graphic. They use objects like circles and polygons to make a full illustration.
If you zoom out bitmap images, you can see the pixels, and the image starts to blur out. But if you zoom out vector images, the image does not blur out but stays smooth.
One format has certain advantages and disadvantages over the other. The comparison table below gives some other features that differentiate between bitmap and vector graphics.
|Parameter of Comparison||Bitmap||Vector|
|Definition||A type of graphic that is made up of small elements called pixels.||A type of graphic that is made up of lines and curves.|
|Formats||.jpg, .gif, .png, .psd, .tiff||.ai, .svg, .ps, .eps, .svf|
|Elements||It uses pixels.||It uses geometric shapes.|
|Resolution||Resizing the image affects its resolution.||Resizing the image does not affect its resolution.|
|Suitable for||This type is suitable for photographs.||This type is suitable for logos, clip art, and icons.|
|Software program||It can be edited using Adobe Photoshop.||It can be edited using Adobe Illustrator.|
|File Size||Comparatively larger than vector images.||Comparatively less than bitmap images.|
What is Bitmap?
A Bitmap is a type of graphic that consists of small elements called pixels. Bitmap graphics are also called raster images.
The pixels hold some colour, and when they are arranged together, they form an image. Whenever you look at some screen, you see tiny dots called pixels.
Bitmap graphics are resolution-dependent. If you scale them too much, you can lose the image quality.
If you zoom out the picture too much, you can see the blurry edges, and the image becomes jagged.
So it is advised that you do not scale bitmap images too much. Only slight resizing is possible. The term to define the resolution of a picture is dots per inch (dpi).
Photographs are bitmap or raster images. Some of the most popular bitmap formats are Photographic Expert Group (.jpg), Graphics Interchange Format (.gif), Portable Network Graphics (.png), and Tagged Image File Format (.tiff).
The outputs of printers and scanners are also bitmap. The input-output devices, like digital cameras, monitors, etc, produce bitmap images.
The software that is most widely used for editing photographs is Adobe Photoshop.
What is Vector?
A vector graphic is a type of graphic that uses geometric shapes like lines, curves, circles, and polygons to compose an image. The mathematical formulas establish those points on the grid.
Vector graphics are not resolution-dependent. That means it is possible to scale them without worrying about the picture quality because the mathematical formulas redraw the image at that required scale.
This feature has a specific advantage over other types of graphics. That is why vector graphics are pretty popular all over the world. They appear smooth at any resolution.
The most commonly used vector formats are Adobe Illustrator File (.ai), Scalable Vector Graphics (.svg), and Encapsulated PostScript (.esp).
The software used worldwide to make and edit vector graphics are Adobe Illustrator, Corel Draw, Adobe InDesign, and CAD Systems. Logos, clip arts, posters, and abstract images are all vector graphics.
In the world of graphic design, vector graphics are used almost anywhere. Due to their scalable feature, the logo can be put on a billboard and still have solid colours and consistency.
Animations also require vector graphics because of the resolution independency. The animation industry makes billions annually, so vector graphics are always in demand.
Main Differences Between Bitmap and Vector
- A bitmap is a type of graphic made up of small elements called pixels, while a vector is a graphic made up of lines and curves.
- The commonly used formats for bitmap are .jpg, .gif, .png, .psd, and .tiff, while the commonly used vector graphics are .ai, .svg, .ps, .eps, .svf.
- The primary element of bitmap images is pixels, whereas the fundamental element of vector graphics is geometric shapes.
- Resizing a bitmap graphic affects the quality of the picture while resizing a vector graphic does not affect its quality.
- Bitmap graphics are photographs, while vector graphics are mostly logos, icons, and clip art.
- Bitmap images can be edited through Adobe Photoshop, while vector graphics can be edited through Adobe Illustrator.
- Bitmap images are comparatively larger than vector images. Vector images have a smaller file size as compared to bitmap images.
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Sandeep Bhandari holds a Bachelor of Engineering in Computers from Thapar University (2006). He has 20 years of experience in the technology field. He has a keen interest in various technical fields, including database systems, computer networks, and programming. You can read more about him on his bio page.