Look at these two characters from The Incredibles movie & Despicable Me film respectively – with their dark-rimmed glasses, blunt bangs, and similar expressions, those not familiar with the film might think these characters are related. But as any parent, kid, or SUPER fan will tell you, they most definitely are NOT!
Jumping from the movie screen to the computer screen, pixels and vectors can also create a similar conundrum. On the surface, they seem to share a lot of characteristics, but they are entirely different in both function and form.
There are two types of images: Raster and Vector.
Raster, simply put, is another name for a pixel-image and is usually created in programs like Photoshop or captured with a camera. Like The Incredible’s character Edna Mode, a pixel pack an incredible punch in a small package.
A pixel is a little tiny square of information that, when combined with other pixels, creates a cohesive image – think of how an individual puzzle piece doesn’t make any sense on its own, but when connected to the rest reveals a beautiful picture.
Pixels are perfect when you have varying colors, shades, or tones that must blend and work together like watercolor art or a photograph. The downside is those boxes contain a finite amount of information, so you can only enlarge the size of the image to a certain point before experiencing a loss of quality or a “fuzzy” look to it.
Vector graphics are created with vector-based software like Adobe Illustrator and are used to create images for logos and physical products.
Like The Despicable Me film villain, Vector Perkins (see what I did there??), vectors are modern, high-tech images with all the bells and whistles. The brainiac of image types, vectors consist of points, lines, and curves that are based upon mathematical equations vs. the color-by-number technique of pixels.
Because vectors are based on equations, they can re-calculate their content and scale accordingly. That means no matter how large or small or how close you zoom in on it, the edges will always remain crisp, clean, and smooth.
And that’s it, the fundamental difference between raster and vector images. See, I told you it would be SUPER easy!
Now, anytime your stuck, you will think about The Incredibles or Despicable Me films (Oh-yeah! ) and likely want to re-watch the movies.