What is Vector Art?
Vector art is a type of digital art produced with vector design software. These programs build images using mathematical formulas to generate simple shapes between points instead of pixels.
A vector graphic is generated by creating points (or nodes) and joining these together with lines (known as paths) to build shapes. We happen to know a great vector software. Maybe you’ve heard of it? Vectornator is a design software that is free to use and perfect for creating vector graphics.
Vector software enables you to produce high-quality images that do not become pixelated no matter how much you enlarge them. This is because the vector format (a type of file format created in vector software) does not use pixels but, instead, clean lines and geometric shapes, which are infinitely scalable.
For the visual learners out there, check out this video to get an idea of what we’re talking about.
See how Laura builds her image out of shapes by connecting points to create each shape and curve? That's vector art. It's fun, effective, and essential for most graphic designers and illustrators.
In this article, we'll explore everything you need to know to get a good understanding of what vector art is, from differentiating between vector images and raster images to identifying vector files, as well as ideas and inspiration for how to use vector art.
Is it Art or Design?
Vectors can be used purely to create digital art and illustration, as well as for design projects like logos, posters, advertisements, etc.
Vector vs. Raster
Is vector art the same as raster art? Not necessarily. In contrast to the curves, points, and shapes that make up vector images, raster graphics are composed of pixels.
The main difference between vector graphics and raster graphics is that raster is resolution-dependent, meaning the resolution can only be as clear as the number of pixels in the image, whereas vector images can be scaled infinitely without loss of quality.
Raster images are most common for digital photography and are better when very sharp attention to detail is needed. Vector graphics are more common in illustration and graphic design because often, these materials need to be enlarged and are more stylized than realistic.
Vector shapes make retaining quality possible because they do not pixelate. The shape can be stretched and stretched without being compromised at all.
What is a Vector File?
A vector file refers to the format that the final image is created in. Different software tools use different file formats, and you'll be able to tell which file format your vector image is in by reading the last few letters of the file name after the dot.
Think of a Microsoft word document. Any document created in Word will contain ".doc" at the end, e.g., "Term Paper.doc." This means the file format comes from Microsoft Word.
The types of vector files you get tell you which program they were created in and are compatible with.
There are a few varieties when it comes to vector file type, namely:
- AI- Adobe Illustrator
- EPS- Encapsulated PostScript File Format
- SVG- Scalable Vector Graphics
- PDF- Portable Document Format
- CDR- CorelDRAW
- FH- Freehand MX
- EMF- Enhanced Metafile
The most common vector file format is EPS. This is the industry standard in print and marketing.
A raster file, on the other hand, will end in extensions GIF, PNG, JPEG, DOC, PPT, EPS, PDF, TIF, PSD, or BMP.
You'll notice that some extensions can be both vector and raster file formats, like PDF and ESP. This is because whether the file is raster or vector will be dependent on how it's created- whether vector or raster tools were used to build or capture the image.
For instance, in Vectornator, you can use the Auto Trace feature to transform a raster images into beautiful vector shapes within seconds.
How to Use Vector Art
Vector art is used for multiple types of design projects. It's used for graphic design, illustration, and digital arts.
Vector software can be used for most forms of graphic design. It’s up to the designer to decide which type of software is most appropriate for their particular design project.
These are some of the main areas that use vector art to create high-quality, imaginative, scalable images.
Illustration has become a very in-demand profession, with brands going crazy for authentic visual content to capture their persona and products beautifully. Illustration is used for editorial content (print and online), social media, UX/UI design and much more. Check out these illustration portfolios to get some inspiration for your own illustrations.
Illustration is an exciting industry that promises a lot of freedom. Many illustrators choose to freelance and run their own personal studio. What a fantastic time to live in when artists can make a good living doing what they love, right?
Vector art is used for many elements that go into the design of a website, including icons, logos, illustrations, and layout. You'll need to know how to create vector graphics as a website graphic designer or as a UI designer. If you're a freelance graphic designer or illustrator, your services might be outsourced by website designers and developers.
You'll need vectorized images to print posters successfully. Poster design can be used for art and decor, film, and marketing. Need poster design inspiration? Check out these scary movie posters that are sure to keep you awake at night.
Most graphic designers use vector software to create logos. Why? Because vector graphics are easily scaleable, simple to edit, and have tons of exporting options.
Read this blog post to learn all about why all logos should be created with vector graphics.
Like posters and logos, vector designs are perfect for billboards as these are printed at an enormous scale. Your vector files will be necessary to maintain the quality of the image.
Video game designers use all kinds of software. It is a highly complex form of design. The critical component of the artwork is generated using vector art. This type of vector art is especially popular lately with the growing popularity of video games and virtual reality.
Getting Started With Vector Art
If you're interested in getting started with vector art, you'll need to do some learning. There are tons of online courses available nowadays and even free youtube videos you could learn from if you have the patience and focus for self-learning.
The great thing about taking online courses is that they are structured well and use proven teaching methodologies (which keep you from getting lost and overwhelmed in a you-tube rabbit hole). Social media and online videos are perfect for extra tips and finding inspiration.
Along with the right learning materials, you’ll need the right software for vector art.
What is the Best Vector Graphics Software?
As you should know by now, vector art requires software to be generated.
The design market is packed with vector illustration software and vector graphics software, so how do you know which one to choose? It takes a bit of exploring to see what works best for you, and it depends on budget as well. We’ve listed some of the best vector design programs worth exploring below.
Yes, this is a shameless shout-out to our brand, but obviously, we believe in our product. And we’re willing to admit that this is a plug. Sorry, blame our marketing team!
We've had a team of developers working for years to create a vector software tool that's extremely simple to use yet has all the features you could desire to be as creative as possible AND doesn't break the bank.
Vectornator is a free software tool because we are passionate about empowering anyone with a creative desire to be able to express themselves through digital art without limitation.
Adobe Illustrator is the industry-standard vector design software. It's high quality and feature-rich, so you can create anything your imagination can fathom. The only thing is it has a steep learning curve that could be tackled via free youtube videos but generally requires a bit of proper training.
It is also one of the more expensive options for a graphic design software, especially considering the option to use a free software tool. However, Adobe Illustrator is a powerful tool that's necessary to have a handle on if you're serious about graphic design and illustration.
This software is a worthwhile competitor with Adobe (but way more affordable- score.)
Affinity Designer is a vector graphics software and vector editor that comes with all the features you need to create fantastic designs. Many graphic designers are open to software that's more affordable than Adobe's creative suite and are finding that Affinity Designer is, in fact, a great alternative.
CorelDRAW Graphics Suite is a complete suite of graphic design applications.
From vector design to photo editing, editorial design, and more, CorelDRAW offers a wide range of tools to satisfy all graphic design needs, whether that’s creating apparel or business cards and everything in between. CorelDRAW comes with LiveSketch powered by AI technology which converts sketching into vector curves.
However, it's quite expensive, and it's showing its age a bit.
What About Photoshop?
For those who are new to design or not entirely in the know, the mind automatically goes to Photoshop when thinking of design software because it's become a household name. Adobe Photoshop is part of the Adobe Creative Cloud, but it's a raster graphics tool (which is why it's used for digital photography.)
There's a lot more to know about each of the programs we mentioned here, so be sure to check out our article on graphic design software tools, where we detail everything you need to know about 21 different graphic design software tools.
Vector Artists for Inspiration
Charles Williams of Made Up studio creates beautiful graphic design and illustration work for magazines, branding, and advertising campaigns. He uses vector art to bring images to life with movement, geometric shapes, and a 3D aesthetic.
This Ecuadorian illustrator's amazing portfolio boasts a very impressive client list, including Adobe, Apple, Netflix, and The New York Times.
Line Birgitte has honed the use of line work in her vector art, creating images that often have a laid-back, sketchy-style aesthetic.
This Dubai-based illustrator’s vector art is stunningly vibrant alive with shape and color, which goes to show how much is possible with simple geometric shapes.
Want to Make Your Own Vector Art?
Hopefully, you now have a better understanding of what vector art is and just how much is possible with this incredibly exciting and diverse digital art form.
We’re (obviously) obsessed with it, which is why we’re working hard to make it accessible to as many people as possible.
We can't wait to see what you'll create!