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Vector Graphics vs Bitmap Images

The difference


People often get confused and ask, “What is the difference between Vector graphics and Bitmap images? Answering this question is crucial to deciding which is better over the other.

A bitmap image is made up of pixels. Pixels are a grid like structure with each tiny box, or dot having an individual color. When zoomed in, a bitmap image will show rows of small squares. These squares are not visible to the naked eye which is why a bitmap image appears to have a smooth color gradient.

All digitally obtained images are stored as a bitmap file. This includes taking photographs scanning, etc. Popular bitmap formats include PNG, GIF, and JPEG.

Vector graphics on the other hand are not based on the matrix pattern. Instead, objects are used to create these graphics. Mathematical formulas are used to produce geometric shapes such as circles, polygons, and curves. These shapes are the aforementioned objects that make up vector graphics.


The verdict: which is better?

The structure of vector graphics provides them an obvious advantage over bitmap images. Since bitmap images are made up of pixels, each individually colored; your computer has to store all of them. The ample amount of pixels results in a relatively large file for just one thing.  For an A4 sized image optimized for average quality printing, the size can be up to 40MB.

One may ask, “what about compressing the file?”

It is possible but not a very viable option. You may reduce the file size and compress it, but be wary: the image more often than not loses its quality, especially the sharpness. Similarly, when you enlarge a bitmap image, it starts to become blocky and jagged. This is most true for around the edges.

In vector graphics, however, pixels are not used. Thus it is more scalable and stored in a smaller file size. The mathematical formulas are of importance to this advantage; when a vector graphic is scaled up or down, the mathematical function changes too, accordingly. As a result a smooth image is obtained.

Keeping these pros and cons in mind, before you make the final decision, you must ask yourself a few crowning questions. What is the intended purpose of your image? Will it need to be resized? Do you want the image to look real and is file size an issue?

For logo designing and such where resizing is necessary, vector graphics are the go to. They also have the advantage of being more flexible.

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