Ever since I started working as a Graphic Designer, I was faced with a design-dilemma EVERY designer is confronted with a few million times when dealing with clients. Having the company logo in a decent, printable format. And no, saving a logo from a website header and sending it to me will not help me when I have to design a poster or a huge billboard. Not many companies know what you’re after even if you ask for a vector logo or logo in a vector format. So what is a vector and why is it different from a bitmap or the low-resolution one from the website?

Firstly, a bitmap image is an image that consists of a grid of blocks called pixels. Each pixel has a color and a unique position that make up the image or photograph. An image is defined by it’s dpi or “dots/pixels per inch”. The bigger the density of the pixels in the image, the better the quality of the image – thus the bigger the dpi, the more detail the image contain when enlarged. This means that the more pixels an image contain in it’s pixel-grid, the bigger the physical size of the image file will be. Typically a logo from the website header will be: 250 pixels (px) by 60 pixels and 72 dots per inch (dpi) which will roughly give you a file size of plus-minus 60 kilo-bites (kb). A high resolution logo image in turn will be: 2500px by 600px and 300dpi which will take up approximately 2 megabytes (mb) of space on your computer. For more about image resolution: click here > Basic bitmap file formats are: JPEG, BMP, PNG, GIF and/or TIFF.

Secondly, a vector image uses math to draw points, lines and curves. The computer will automatically connect the dots or points and render the image information – much like a “connect-the-numbered-dots” picture. A vector can consist out of hundreds or even thousands of these “connect-the-dots” layers and that makes them easier to edit than it’s bitmap counterpart. Eventhough these vectors can have hundreds of curves and layers – the file size is reasonably small : around 100kb – 900kb. Once opened these images can be sized to any size imaginable without losing as much as a millimeter of quality! Basic vector file formats are: eps, wmf, svg, pdf, fonts and clipart.

Having said that, both these image formats have their place in the design ecosystem and the one is not better than the other… but… both of them can be used in the wrong way – never supply a low-res bitmap image when a vector is required or submit a vector when a high-res bitmap is required. Although a vector image can be converted to any bitmap format with ease, it is a lot harder to convert a bitmap image into a vector format. Bitmaps were initially developed for display purposes and vector images for printing. This is the main reason why logos are needed in vector format by designers when brochures, posters, banners, leaflets and business cards are designed… a vector image will always print perfectly!

So the next time a designer asks you for a vector logo – you will know what they need and then you have a decision to make – send them the company vector logo or get a good designer to redraw the logo as a vector image. Once you have the logo as a vector image – it’s like having the master… 🙂

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