Raster vs Vector.
When working with digital photos, graphic design, logos and other digital images, raster and vector are the two most common file types you’ll encounter. Learn about the key features, similarities and differences between the two to decide when and where to use each.
What is a raster file?
Raster files are images built from pixels — tiny colour squares that, in great quantity, can form highly detailed images such as photographs. The more pixels an image has, the higher quality it will be, and vice versa. The number of pixels in an image depends on the file type (for example, JPEG, GIF or PNG).
File and extension types.
Your software will usually determine your file type, whether it’s raster or vector. There are multiple types and extensions of both raster and vector files, each with its own features. Learn more about some of the common ones:
Raster vs. vector files: frequently asked questions.
Is a PDF a raster or vector?
Can you turn a JPEG into a vector file?
You can use Adobe Illustrator to convert a JPEG into a vector:
- Open your JPEG image in Adobe Illustrator.
- Select the JPEG and in the top bar, click Image Trace.
- Then select Expand to convert into a vector image.
- You can right-click and choose Ungroup to separate the new vector image from its background if desired.
- Edit the image, save and export it as a vector file.
Is Photoshop vector-based?
No, Adobe Photoshop is a raster-based programme, meaning it uses pixels to create detailed images. One of the primary uses of Photoshop is with digital photos, which are usually raster files. But, you can open and edit vector files in Photoshop — either as a smart object or rasterised file.
Is Illustrator raster or vector?
Adobe Illustrator is a vector-based programme. While Photoshop excels as a photo editor and graphic design programme, Illustrator specialises in creating scalable vector graphics, logos and design elements. You can open raster files in Illustrator and use the Image Trace tool to turn the image into a vector.