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Types of Digital Graphics

You're really excited about your first job! You have to create a logo for a company (it will be used on all its documentation and advertising) and also take a few pictures for the company website. What type of graphics are you dealing with? This unit helps you get to grips with the key terms and types of digital graphics that you need to know about. 

Bitmap (or raster) graphic

Bitmap (or raster) images are stored as a series of tiny dots called pixels. Each pixel is actually a very small square that is assigned a color, and then arranged in a pattern to form the image. When you zoom in on a bitmap image you can see the individual pixels that make up that image.

Vector graphic

Unlike bitmaps, vector images are not based on pixel patterns, but instead use mathematical formulas to draw lines and curves that can be combined to create an image from geometric objects such as circles and polygons. Vector images are edited by manipulating the lines and curves that make up the image using a program such as Adobe Illustrator.

File formats include:

? jpg ? png ? gif ? bmp ? tiff ? pdf and ? svg ? psd


Vector images have some important advantages over bitmap images. Vector images tend to be smaller than bitmap images. That’s because a bitmap image has to store color information for each individual pixel that forms the image. A vector image just has to store the mathematical formulas that make up the image, which take up less space.

Vector graphic scaled up with no pixelization

Sample vector graphic from FCIT’s collection of Math illustrations on the ClipArt ETC website.

Vector images are also more scalable than bitmap images. When a bitmap image is scaled up you begin to see the individual pixels that make up the image. This is most noticeable in the edges of the image. There are ways of making these jagged edges less noticeable but this often results in making the image blurry as well. When a vector image is scaled up, the image is redrawn using the mathematical formula, so the resulting image is just as smooth as the original.

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