Pixels and Vector: What’s The Difference?

Pixels and Vector: What’s The Difference?

At Helloprint, we want nothing more than your printed product to look fantastic! But how can you check if your artwork is suitable for printing? We’ll explain what you need to look for when you’re designing your artwork.

There are two types of graphic files: pixel and vector based graphics. Pixel based graphics are made up of tiny squares (pixels) that can be seen when you zoom in on your image. The quality of these images of based on the resolution, which is shown in DPI (Dots Per Inch). If you enlarge the image to be printed (which is needed for large prints such as flags), the pixels become bigger too, making the image blurry if the image is not high resolution. Pixel graphics are often made in Adobe Photoshop and have these extensions: JPEG, PNG, GIF, and TIFF.

Vector graphics are mapped out using mathematical equations which calculate where the edges of the shapes sit in relation to one another and also the colour, type of line and fill. These lines will always keep their shape, regardless of much you resize them, and the quality will stay the same. Vector graphics are usually made in Adobe Illustrator and have one of these extensions: EPS, AI, PDF, or SVG.

How can I recognize a pixel or vector graphic?
Sometimes people send us artwork which they think is a vector based graphic but turn out to be a pixel based graphic. Often what has happened is that the pixel image (e.g. JPG) was placed in an Illustrator PDF file or saved in Photoshop as an EPS file. This, however, doesn’t make it a vector based graphic. To check, simply zoom in on the file. If the image stays clear and sharp, then it’s a vector based image. If the pixels become visible, then it is a pixel based image.

How do I create a vector graphic?
To create a vector file, you would typically need to use a vector graphics software program, such as Adobe Illustrator, which allows you to draw vector shapes, lines, and curves and manipulate them. Here are the general steps:

  1. Open a vector graphics software program and create a new document or open an existing one.
  2. Use the tools provided in the program to draw or import the shapes, lines, and curves you want to use in your design. Adjust the size, shape, and colour as needed.
  3. Save your design as a vector file format, such as EPS, AI, PDF, or SVG.

How do I know if the resolution is high enough?
Professional design programs have the option to show the resolution of the file. We would like to have a resolution of 300DPI when the file is displayed as the actual size in your design program. This is the resolution needed to have a sharp printed product. Large products such as posters, banners and roller banners will be viewed from far away, so a resolution of 150DPI is sufficient.

Be careful not to assume that your resolution is sufficient if the program says that your artwork has a resolution of 300DPI. Sometimes, logos or text that are used in your artwork may originally be of lower quality. To prevent this, we suggest always using original image files and not images from the internet. Always try to refrain from using programs such as Paint (pro) or Picasa as they automatically resize your files to 72DPI which will give images, logos or text a blurry look.

You can easily see if your image has sufficient resolution by zooming in to 200%. Can’t see the difference between your brother and sister in your family photo? 🙂 Then that’s a clear indication that your artwork’s resolution is too low. For business cards, pens and other products that you view from close by, you need to view the artwork at 600%. Large items such as posters, banners and other products that you would look at from ‘over’ a metre away, you can check the image at 50%.

Ready with your file to order your print? From flyers & business cards, to banners and flags we’ve got you covered!