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Bitmap verses Vector: What's the Difference?

In the computer world there are a lot of different ways to store an image. These different ways of storing are called file formats, or image file types.There are many different types of image files, such as: jpg, gif, png, svg. However, no matter what file type you use, every picture on a computer can be classified as either a Bitmap or Vector image. The difference is in how the computer reads and displays the images. It's important to know the difference between them because each format has it's own strengths and weaknesses.


Most images (and all the photographs) you see on a computer are bitmaps. Bitmaps are very effective way to display most images on the web. Bitmaps are a grid (or map) of bits of colored light or pixels. Bitmaps are made up of rows and columns of these pixels that come together to form a picture.

Advantages of Bitmaps

Bitmaps are easy to create. Take a picture with a digital camera, or scan something in, and you've got one. They also give you a consistent result. A bitmap will look pretty much the same no matter what device you're viewing it on, while vector images must rely on the software that's viewing them to display correctly.

Disadvantages of Bitmaps

Bitmaps have a set amount of detail built into them. If you ever see a bitmap image blown up, you'll notice it has little individual squares like the image above. Normally you wont notice the individual dots.



Vector images are made with geometry. The computer receives instructions about lines, curves and colors, and then draws the image based on these instructions.

Text is Vector

The most common vector are the one's you're looking at right now. Most modern fonts are made of vectors, so you can scale them as big as you need, without them getting pixelated or fuzzy. 

Advantages of Vector

The Advantage to Vector images is it's scalability. Logos are generally made in vector format, because it allows greater flexibility.  For Example you might want to print your logo on the side of a truck.  Doing this with bitmap would require a huge high resolution image!  But the same vector graphic you use in your letterhead could be used to print on the side of a truck!

Vector disadvantages

Vector graphics must to be drawn by hand, by a person, using software like Adobe Illustrator.  This makes for a higher upfront cost, but for graphic you will use over and over (like a logo) it will save you money in the long run!

When Should I Have A Vector Image Created?

For logos and illustrations that need to be printed at large scales, vector is the best choice. Having your logo in vector makes it easy to print it at different sizes, and retain a clean, crisp image, no matter the size.

Quality Vector images are an investment. It takes a skilled artist many hours to produce a quality vector logo, illustration, or diagram. But for images that are going to be used again and again, the investment is worthwhile, and will save you money!