What Is the Difference Between Raster and Vector Graphics?

Raster graphics use specific pixels and colors for each pixel to render an image, while vector graphics use mathematical lines and shapes to produce an image. They are the two main types of image files used in digital imaging.

Since raster graphics use individual pixels to represent an image, they are the ideal choice for displaying images on computer screens. Popular raster file formats include BMP, TIFF, JPG, GIF and PNG. When editing a raster image, a user must leverage a bitmap editor and edit pixels individually.

Given that a vector image uses smooth shapes and lines to render an image, it is the best option when printing images. Vector images offer an easy way for designers and graphic artists to edit visual images, since they can alter components in a vector image without losing quality. Adobe Illustrator is the most common editor of vector images.