×
Search TQA Weekly
×
Log into your TQA Weekly

Vector-based Graphic Design

Better ways of making clean graphics

Steve Smith, host of your Technology Questions Answered, talks about the difference between bitmap and vectore graphics, the pros and cons of vector graphics and offers InkScape as a freeware solution.

Episode #2-02 released on September 25, 2011

Hello, my name is Steve Smith, aka Zed Axis, and your listening to your Technology Questions Answered. Today, I'll explain the difference between bitmap and vector graphics, the pros and cons, and then, give you more free software to try out.

Trying to make a cartoon animation, page layout, logo, clip art, or complex geometric pattern, the last thing you want to do is use a bitmap graphic editor like Gimp or Adobe Photoshop. And, the easiest way to explain this, is to define what bitmap and vector graphics are.

Let's start with the bitmap, since everyone knows what a JPEG is. A bitmap is a type of memory storage or collection of pixels and bits defined by specific height, width, color depth, pixel concentration per inch or centimeter, often referred to as dots per inch. The pixels are fixed in height, width and color wavelength. Shrinking or increasing the size of an image in a bitmap format causes distortions in the graphic because the pixels are fixed in sized and forced to either assimilate the adjoining pixels and approximate a new similar color to make one pixel instead of a cluster. Or the reverse, the pixels are forced to multiply, and the new pixels have to replicate an approximation of color wavelength. In other words, once a graphic is made a certain size, like a photo done with a digital camera, it should remain exactly the same size to avoid becoming distorted. The only reliable way to increase or decrease size is to adjust the dots per inch. This changes the height and width printed out, but keeps the pixel height and width identical.

Vector graphics are different in many respects. They are primarily the product of complex algebraic calculations that define many aspects of the image, including the positions of objects like lines, fill colors, patterns, etc.... Making a logo, page layout, cartoon, etc... in a vector graphic format makes it possible to increase or decrease the size of the image without any distortions, what so ever. So next time your client asks for you to make the logo bigger, you can in real time. This also means you don't have to make huge versions of your comics to retain quality when you increase the pixel depth per inch, effectively reducing the height and width.

For those who didn't understand all this. Draw a diagonal line in your favourite graphic editor like Adobe Photoshop, then increase the size of the graphic. You may notice that the line looks more like a set of stairs. Do this in Adobe Illustrator or Inkscape, and this effect does not occur at all. And that is regardless of the thickness of the line.

The pros of vector graphics are that it is easier to maintain the quality of the image created despite resizing. Easy to make page layouts, and create professional cartoons like those in comic books. The cons are that most of the image manipulation and filters can't really be used in a vector type graphic editors.

Now, before you think that it ends here. Most people may not realize that a good bitmap graphic editor is a plus to vector graphic editor. You can take an image from a vector graphic editor, resize to the height, width and color depth you need, then apply filters or effects to the image, and most of the time, if you use the same settings, you will replicate exactly what you have, every single time. So, for anyone who wants to create a brand new comic book hero, this is your chance.

The vector graphic editor most people use is Adobe Illustrator. It costs an arm and a leg, so how about we save a little cash, and use the one I prefer, Inkscape. You can get it at inkscape.org and its free.

Next week, I'll be introducing you to LibreCad, another AutoCad program, perfect for industrial designers, basement inventors, and so much more. If your a basement inventor, industrial designer, or an artist that loves to use AutoCad or LibreCad, you can send me your design to show case in my next episode, send it over to tqa@zedaxis.net, I'll make sure I showcase your design, with all your contact information in next week's episode of Technology Questions Answered.

For the rest of you, you can also send me your questions, comments, stories or suggestions over to tqa@zedaxis.net, don't forget to subscribe, share, and like this episode. For show notes, downloads, and more information head over to www.zedaxis.net. Let's see you all next week, stay safe and online. Have a great day!

Host : Steve Smith | Music : Jonny Lee Hart | Editor : Steve Smith | Producer : Zed Axis Productions

Sources & Resources