What is vector graphic software? With features and benefits

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 8 April 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

People can choose vector graphics over other image editing processes because of their ability to create clear images in their original size. You can enlarge vector graphic images and remain clear, unlike pixel images that pixelate. Learning vector graphic software and how to use it can help you create high-definition images in multimedia like games and the web. In this article, we answer the question 'What is vector graphic software?', distinguish between raster and vector graphics, highlight the uses of vector art and discuss the benefits of vector graphics.

What is vector graphic software?

To answer 'What is vector graphic software?', it's important to understand what vector graphics are. Vector graphics are images you can create on your computer using a sequence of mathematical statements or commands that can put shapes and lines in both two-dimensional and three-dimensional spaces. The geometric commands and mathematical statements are vector statements or commands by another name.

Vector graphic software is an application that can let users manipulate computer images using vector commands for design purposes. It's different from regular drawing software, which uses strokes and clicks to create images. You can scale the vector graphics you create with vector graphic software indefinitely and maintain the image quality. Vector graphic software also produces images of small size, which make them easy to upload and download

Common features of vector graphic software

There are multiple key features of good vector software. Most features focus on image editing, but others can perform functions like file sharing and exporting. Here are the common features of vector graphic software:

  • Image editing**:** You can join a series of shapes, lines and colours to create graphics using vector graphic software. The software may also have a subset of tools you can customise to your needs, like brush sizes and styles.

  • Typography tools**:** These are tools that can let you edit the fonts on your designs. Vector graphic software can let you create new fonts or use existing ones.

  • Design templates**:** Vector graphic software can have pre-built templates designers can use as inspiration or a starting point. Examples of the templates you can find include logos and stock images.

  • Image previews**:** Vector graphic software can let you preview an image before you export or share it. Previews can help you ensure any changes you make fit well in the image.

  • Image history: Many vector graphics platforms have image history features that allow users to view previous versions of an image. It can be helpful if you get new ideas and choose to make a change anytime during the design process.

  • File export: Vector graphic software can let you export your images using various formats. Examples of image formats you can export include PDF, EPS, JPG, SVG and PNG.

What is a vector file?

A vector file is a format you can use to export your images. Different software usually supports different file formats. You can tell the file format of your images using the last letter after the dot on the file name. For example, if a Microsoft Word document usually has '. doc' at the end of the filename. It means the document is an export of Microsoft Word. The vector file type directly relates usually determines the program you used to create your image. The most common vector file is. SVG. Here are some types of vector files:

  • PDF: Portable Document Format

  • AI: Adobe Illustrator

  • SVG: Scalable Vector Graphics

  • EPS: Encapsulated Postscript File Format

  • EMF: Enhanced Metafile

  • FH: Freehand MX

  • CDR: CorelDRAW

Raster vs. vector graphics

Here are some differences between vector graphics and vector graphics to help you understand better what is vector graphic software:

Quality to size ratio

Vector graphics have a better quality to size ratio compared to raster graphics. A raster graphic, or a bitmap, maps bits on a display space to create images. Raster graphics usually have a specific number of pixels, limiting their scalability. Enlarging a raster graphics image can sacrifice its quality because a raster image can become pixelated when you scale it.

Size and relation to memory

Every pixel in a raster image has a direct relation to the memory the specific image occupies on the computer. Your computer can store information for every pixel in the image. When creating a vector image, your computer can only store the series of points you connect using curves and lines. The feature also makes vector files smaller than raster files.

Conversion to other file formats

You can convert vector files into different formats using the right software. The feature isn't available for raster files. Examples of software that can convert vector file formats include Adobe Illustrator and Adobe Photoshop.

Colour diversity

Raster files can portray colours better than vector files because each pixel can have a different colour. There can be more pixels to support many unique colours than vectors to support many unique colours. The feature can make raster files better for editing digital photographs.

What are the uses of vector art?

You can use vector arts for various design projects. As the designer, it's up to you to determine the most appropriate software for a specific project. Here are some of the most popular uses of vector graphics software:

Illustration design

You can use vector software to create illustrations. Brands can use visual content, including illustrations, to attractively portray their products and persona. You can use illustrations for various uses like UX/UI design, social media and editorial content.

Related: How to start a digital illustration career (with tips)

Logo design

Logos are images or illustrations that can represent a brand or company. They can help give your brand identity. You can use vector graphics to design logos. Vector graphic software can help maintain the logo quality even in a small size for print media.

Related: 9 types of graphic design jobs to consider

Poster design

You can also rely on vector graphics software to design quality posters. The quality of a poster remains constant even in a larger size for print. You can design posters for various projects, including marketing, art and decor and film.

Website design

You can use vector art to create various elements you can apply to the design of a website. Examples include logos, icons, layout and illustrations. Vector graphics software can also help you design the elements of a user interface. As a vector graphics designer, website developers and designers can outsource your services.

Related: What is web design? (Definition, elements and uses)

Billboard design

Billboards usually require large print. You can maintain the quality of the billboard images and illustrations if you design them with decor, vector graphic software. Vector graphics sustain quality as you enlarge images, unlike raster graphics that pixelate.

Video games design

Video game design can be a complex project. Designers can use all kinds of software to design video games. Vector graphics can help you create quality artwork for your video game.

Related: How to get a video game job

What are the benefits of vector graphics?

Here are some benefits you can get from using vector graphics:

Infinite resolution

Vector graphic images usually have an infinite resolution. It means that you can zoom in on an image indefinitely and still maintain its quality. Vector graphics rely on coordinates on a plane rather than pixels. You can enlarge a curve, line or shape to any size you want and still the exact form of the elements.

Easy to scale

Vector graphics have good scalability compared to pixel graphics. Scalability means you can change its scale or size. It can also mean three things for vector graphics. They include:

  • viewing objects in any size you want

  • scaling objects up or down easily

  • exporting vector graphics in any size and maintaining the quality

Small file size

Vector files are usually small because they have less information than pixel files, like digital cameras or phone pictures. The vector file only reads the coordinates of the graphics, which makes the file size smaller. You can compress a drawing in a vector file with many shapes, colours, texts and gradients and still have a small file size. It can maintain a small size even when increasing an object's dimensions.

Intuitive designs

The base element of a vector graphic is a line. Vector graphics are intuitive and usually let you create illustrations the same way you draw on paper. Join the lines to create simple, complex or realistic graphics.

Easy to manipulate

It's easy to manipulate vector graphics precisely. For example, if you have a rectangle on your design plane, you can pick it and move it anywhere on the plane you please. You can also scale, skew, rotate or invert your rectangle. Designers can also manipulate lines directly related to two nodes by adding more nodes or creating curves.

Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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