A man leaning over a table and looking at a paper.

To Raster or to Vector, That Is the Question

Learn Why Choosing the Right File Type Matters.

Art holds tremendous power. It can inspire you, illuminate a point of view you never saw before, completely transport your mind to another place and communicate thousands of words without saying a single one.

At C.P. Richards Signs, our team members are immaculate artists who utilize the power of art and signage expertise to create signs, banners or vehicle wraps that turn a company’s vision into a reality. So if you’re looking to increase your business’s brand awareness, then our team is designed to help you. We can help you craft a sign or vehicle wrap that you’ll be proud to stand behind.

Before we can begin, we must understand your vision. To help us do this, we ask you to send us any files you have that may help us along the way. But keep this in mind: Your file’s format matters. In fact, it has a direct impact on the quality of your final product.

In short, there are two types of art files you can submit: raster and vector. Here’s the difference—and the reason why we recommend you choose a vector file.

The Real About Raster Files

A raster image is made up of pixels. These finite sets of dots are square in shape and each of them is a different color. To help you paint a mental picture, imagine a multi-colored chessboard as being a close-up of a raster image. Now, when these pixels are arranged together, they create the image you see.

But here’s the downfall of raster images: As the image increases in size, its appearance suffers. If you’ve ever blown up a picture and it became blurry, then you experienced this inconvenience firsthand. So it’s clear that the quality of a raster file is dependent on the resolution of the file.

For files, the pixels per inch is the resolution of the actual file and dots per inch, or dpi, refers to the capabilities of the printer used. When aligned together, they print the image you see.

The higher the file size number, the more pixels there are and the better the print quality will be. However, fewer pixels lead to a faster download speed. As a general rule, always aim for a file that has at least 300 dpis when the image is at its final size.

Raster images are best recommended for:

  • Photographs
  • Complex illustrations
  • Online banner ads
  • Web graphics
  • Content for social media

The Verdict on Vector Files

Vector images are based on math, not pixels. To help you understand this, let’s take it back to your high school geometry class. If you plot two points on a graph, you can connect them with a line. If you plot four, you can connect all of them with lines to create a box. From here, you can make the outline of the square or the entire inside of it a color.

In other words, a vector image is made up of paths. A vector, or a mathematical formula, tells the path how it is shaped and what color it is bordered with or filled by. Unlike raster files, vector images can be enlarged or reduced in size without losing their fidelity. Plus, it ensures that there aren’t any resolution challenges. For this reason, a vector file is always recommended when you’re working with logos or text.

We Choose Vector

At C.P. Richards, we know that branding through signage is an investment. So when it comes to signage that stands with your name and for your name, you want it done right and to look nice—and so do we. Unlike raster files, with vector files quality isn’t a question. That’s why vector files are our preferred file choice.

To get started on turning your vision into a masterpiece, upload your file in an EPS, AL or PDF format here.

Draw Forth With Us

In the sign industry, art isn’t in the eye of the beholder. It’s in the hands of the sign fabricator. So trust your sign or vehicle wrap with the team you can trust. Fill out our online form or call us at 888.596.7446 today!

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