Explaining File types to clients

Explaining Vectors and Rasters To Clients

Vectors and rasters are common terminology for designers but might sound foreign to the average person, your clients. As a designer you may have encountered this a time or two trying to explain to someone only to get a blank stare in return. In this article we will explain the differences so you can translate them to your client in a way they understand.


I will give an example scenario some designers can relate to. A client approaches you for some apparel, company stationary or a banner with their logo on it. To make their product as quickly and easily as possible you may ask for a vector file only to get a question in return of “what is a vector file?” So you explain the file format you need are an ai, eps, cdr, or pdf to get you started. The customer then sends you an email with an eps file only to find out the eps is really a jpg but with the extension changed. There is some irritation involved but you cant help but laugh a little. Then you start a conversation with the client on what the difference is in vectors and rasters besides file extensions.


Raster Files

Rasters are also known as bitmap files. They are created sort of like a painting but more in a digital format. Created with tiny blocks of colors to make up imagery. Just think of Light Bright but on a larger scale.

So what is a raster file? A perfect example is a photo. If you are working in photos this type of file is right for you.

Common file types include but aren’t limited to jpg, gif, png, psd, tiff

What cons do rasters have? You can’t enlarge raster files. The outcome is a blurry image and the larger the image, the larger the file size.


Vector Files

Vectors are essentially created with math using curves, lines and points. Sort of like dot-to-dot. Vectors are ideal in designing because you can scale to any size you would like and it won’t lose it’s quality.

So what are common vector files? When you look at a clean logo design, illustrations with crisp lines, or fonts.

Common file types of vectors are ai, cdr, eps, or some pdfs* (Pdfs can have raster information too so you have to watch out).

Cons of Vectors are that they aren’t as complex as far as the information you can allow on there. They also are limited on effects you can do with them like you can with raster files.


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