Vector vs Bitmap Graphics

My idea of creating graphics for my blogs and web pages is to use Paint.net. As I have discovered, this program does not have the full functionality that I need to create sharp and interesting graphics. Besides the fact that Paint.net does not have a lot of bells and whistles, it is also a bitmap graphic program. A better graphics program to use might be a vector based graphics program.  For the Graphic Design Group Writing Project, I decided to explore what the difference is between bitmap and vector graphics.

Bitmap Graphics

Bitmap graphics are the most commonly used form of graphics on the internet. The images are made up of pixels in a grid. The picture is basically represented by dots. Once you commit the line or shape, you must undo it to make any changes and bitmap images are difficult to resize. They have a fixed width and height and have a limited resolution. When you zoom in on a bitmap image, the image becomes blocky. MSPaint and PhotoShop are both examples of bitmap graphics programs.

This photo represents the originally image:

Bitmap Original

When I resize the image to make it larger, the image becomes blurry.

Bitmap Resized

Bitmap Images:

  • Reduced quality when resized
  • Fixed number of pixels per image
  • Easy to convert between different bitmap formats (jpeg, gif, bmp, png, pict, pcx, tiff, psd)
  • Scanned images and pictures from digital cameras are bitmap images
  • Only a few formats (such as gif and png) support transparency
  • Good for photographic images

Vector Graphics

Vector graphics are not composed of pixels but are instead composed of points, lines and curves. These images are defined by mathematical formulas and thus can be resized without loosing quality. When you save a vector image you are saving how the image should be drawn, not how the image looks. While vector programs do not work as nicely with photographs as bitmap programs do, they are great for images that need many different sizes such as logos, web graphics and icons. Resizing a vector image will not effect the image quality. Popular programs include Corel Draw, Adobe Illustrator and Xara Xtreme.

Here is an example of a vector image my daughter made in just two minutes using Xara Xtreme:

Vector Images:

  • great scalability
  • transparency functionality
  • can be converted to bitmap images
  • not great for realistic photos
  • 3-D images can be made

Price

Bitmap programs are usually priced much lower than vector programs. Paint.net is a free program, but PhotoShop can run upwards of $400. Adobe Illustrator, a vector-based program lists for $499!

Xara Xtreme

If you want to try a vector based program but are unwilling to shell out $499 for Illustrator, Xara Xtreme might be the program for you. Xara Xtreme is a truly amazing program for a VERY reasonable price. Xara Xtreme lists for $79 and the more enhanced version list for $249. You can also download a free version for Linux (which I did since I have a Linux box). I have done some research on this program and it is very advanced and very easy to use. A search on YouTube will return a number of tutorials written for the program.