Many people have never even heard of the term vector or simply do not understand what it means. Vectors are basically the holy grail of image files for Web and Print Designers. If you are trying to print your logo on apparel or really anything, the printer is going to ask if you have a vector file. In most cases, vector files have these file extensions: .ai, .pdf, .eps, .svg.
The main difference between a vector file and a regular file is that vector files can be shrunk and enlarged to any size without losing any quality or fidelity. So basically, you could use the same exact file that you used to print your business cards to print a billboard if you wanted. The other type of computer graphic is a raster file. Raster files can easily get pixelated and lose quality when enlarged.
For All You Visual Learners Out There:
The zoom-box on top is of a raster image file while the one below is of a vector file. You may notice also that there are many different shades of blue and white in the above box while the bottom box shows a crisp image that has a solid blue and a solid white all the way through. This is why vectors are perfect and often required for great imagery on print materials. Vector Graphics aren’t just great for print, they a can also be used on the web.
Vectors and the Interwebs:
Vector files are amazing for web designers as well as print designers. You would think that such a high quality image would make load time on a web site unbarable, but they are actually some of the smallest files. On the web you will usually see a vector file in the form of an .svg file, most likely the logo. SVG files load faster than other image formats and are higher quality, so why wouldn’t you use them? Apple has also gotten behind the high resolution movement with their retina displays. SVG images provide a noticeable difference on retina displays.
Another amazing feature of SVG’s for web designers and developers is that they can be animated and styled. So if you wanted your logo to be one color on a white background and another an a dark background, you can achieve this with the same logo file. The animation aspect of them is also pretty robust and can give a website a unique effect. Here is a great example of an SVG animation http://svg-wow.org/camera/camera.xhtml.
So What Have We Learned?
If you have a professional business with a website and you are looking to get some print work done, get a vector file created of your art so you can be proud of your brand on every platform.