Graphic image formats: raster and vector

Choosing the correct graphic image format allows you to download, save or print it. For example, by putting PNG instead of JPG, you risk getting a faded picture since the first one has a smaller “range” of supported colors.

 All formats can be divided into two large groups: raster and vector. Each is most successfully used for its sphere, although intersections can also be found. So, what format should you choose for your task?

Concept of graphic image format

Format refers to how graphic data is written. Any image that can be seen on websites, in downloaded documents, or in the interface of an application is a graphic file made in a certain format.

There are two formats of graphic images: raster and vector. It is possible to combine elements from each category in one file. Let’s take a look at the differences between these formats.

Raster graphics

A raster image is built according to the following principle: it resembles a drawing made “by cells.” Each image element consists of several such cells painted in a particular color. These squares are called pixels.

Regarding image resolution, they mean image quality, which depends on the number of pixels that form the picture. The more of them in the same area, the higher the resolution and the better the image looks. If a picture has a resolution of 1280×1024, then it is 1280px vertically and 1024px horizontally. It is important to understand that we are talking about the number of pixels here, not about the image’s area in square centimeters.

Graphic image formats: raster and vector

A raster image’s main disadvantage is its size increases (scaling), and its quality worsens. This is because the size of the picture increases by increasing each pixel, and with a strong increase, these elements become visible to the naked eye.

Other disadvantages of the raster include the inability to rotate the picture at an angle (except 90 °) without distorting the proportions. Another disadvantage is the direct relationship between file size and image quality.

At the same time, the positive aspects of raster images cannot be denied. The main plus is the high accuracy, which conveys the color palette and shade transitions.

Speaking of software suitable for working with this type of image, Adobe Photoshop should be named the most common.

Vector graphics

A vector image is built using reference points connected by curved lines. Curves are built by mathematical algorithms. When creating an image using the vector graphics method, it is necessary to set reference points and determine the nature of the curves laid between them.

The advantages of vector images are ease of editing (both the entire picture and its parts), the ability to adjust the size of the image and even significantly change it without losing quality. You can rotate the picture to the angle that the user needs. And one more plus – the file size is small and can be changed.

Graphic image formats: raster and vector

You can easily convert a vector image to a bitmap by setting any resolution.

Creating a drawing with a full-color gamut and photographic quality in a vector format is time-consuming and fraught with technical difficulties. This narrows down the possibilities for working with many categories of images. This is the main disadvantage of the raster format.

Among the most commonly used vector graphics software are CorelDraw and Adobe Illustrator.

For the best result, both graphic image formats are often used – raster and vector together.

7 bitmap graphic image formats


When you compress in PNG format, no image quality is lost. Often used to store graphic materials, logos, ornaments, and text graphics.

In addition to preserving quality when compressing in this bitmap format, PNG has another advantage: you can choose the transition storage palette.

Background transparencyPrinted images are of poor quality
The format supports many shades of color (more than 15 million)Large files
Compatible with many browsers and software types
No significant loss in quality during compression


The most well-known format occurs most often. When compressed, there is a slight loss of quality while significantly reducing the file size. Therefore, JPG is often used in electronic publications.

The peculiarity of this graphic image format is that the user can choose what is more important in each situation: size or quality. The PNG format does not provide such an opportunity. When choosing a suitable quality, the file size that will be the result is determined. The final size will be minimal if you choose the maximum compression. This will take up less space on your hard drive.

This image format is often used for storing bright pictures with good color reproduction and for sharing pictures on the Internet.

You can reduce the file sizeCompression and processing reduces quality
Good color quality
Compatible with all popular programs and supported by various browsers
Loads fast
Good for hobby printing


GIF (Graphics Interchange Format) is for animated images. The size of the GIF is small. Otherwise, it would take a long time to load, and the file would require a lot of memory and cache. A GIF image is a short video without sound or a picture with an animation effect. It can be a picture, text, icon, or badge.

Used in place of short videos such as screencastsSmall palette – 256 shades of color
Supported by all browsersWork in many graphic editors is not supported
Transparent background option
The image is “animated”


The name Raw in English means “raw.” This format represents the image in its original form, obtained from a scanner or camera; that is, it has not been processed. Due to the metadata content of the original, Raw files are used by professional photographers in their work.

Raw files will have different extensions on devices: CR2, NEF, or DNG. To convert an image, you need a service dedicated to this, such as

Contains original metadataRequires a large amount of memory on the device
Image in high qualityNeed to convert when used on different devices
Unable to print image in this format

When you upload a photo you just took or edit it, the format automatically changes from RAW to JPEG.


A feature of the tagged format, or Tagged Image File Format, is that the file is compressed without losing quality. The resolution of the source is not affected during the process of copying, re-saving, or modifying. At each stage, it is possible to restore the original.

Lossless compressionThe file is large
You can restore the original after editingWork with old versions of editing programs is not supported
Transparent and vector layers supported

The image takes a long time to load, so it is not suitable for the Internet. Because the quality and color depth are preserved, this format is used in scanning and printing.


Microsoft’s Bitmap Picture format is high quality and has additional dib and rle extensions. Used for pictures and photos with great detail. Specialists rarely use BMP because this outdated format has been replaced by such formats as RAW and TIFF, which are more convenient.

Has high qualityLarge files
The image has detailed detailQuality is lost when compressed
Many programs currently no longer support this format.


Documents in Photoshop Document format are created using Adobe Photoshop. You can process multilayer animated images or videos.

The content of a large number of layersCan only work in Photoshop
Maintaining transparencyTo print the image or download it to other programs, you need to reformat the file
Easy to adapt to web pages
Ability to process video and animation

8 vector graphics formats


A familiar format for anyone who has ever had to deal with printing documents or other products on paper. Files are exported to PDF for later printing. In documents and videos, you can find raster and vector elements in this graphics format.

The advantage of this format is that you can work with special applications such as Acrobat and Microsoft. The versatility of the PDF format allows you to use many programs.

Adapted for printingEditable only with paid programs
Ease of loading, sending and openingInability to copy some fragments of the file content
Can contain text, vector and bitmap graphics


The name of the SVG format stands for “Scalable Vector Graphics.” The purpose of the format is to develop and describe two-dimensional vector images. Any part of the picture can be enlarged without losing quality since the image is a vector image.

Has a small sizeFew shades
Can be used for simple animation, interactive elements, infographics, chartsNot intended for printing
Fast optimization and online loading


This is believed to be one of the most convenient graphic image formats for storing information. It also combines vector and raster graphics. Suitable for creating fonts. Devices that support the PostScript language can print an image in this format. You can work with files only in special programs from Adobe. Other programs only allow you to open the image in view mode.

Easy to use in the field of printing and web designLacks versatility
Converted to raster format in PhotoshopNot intended for amateur printing
Not compatible with all software


Professional illustrators and web design specialists most often use this format from Adobe Illustrator.

You can combine raster and vector graphicsNot suitable for working with large objects, for example, you cannot create a good quality billboard in AI
The ability to contain a large amount of graphic information in a fileRequires skills in using Adobe Illustrator


Special graphics platforms are used to create CDR files: Corel Paintshop Pro and CorelDRAW Graphics Suite. You can open and process the encoded and compressed images only in them.

Can work with large graphic projectsCompatible exclusively with Corel products
Without preparation, it is difficult to figure out how to work with the format

The high resolution of CDR images makes them widely used for illustration and advertising.


The WebP format was created by Google specifically for web graphics. Images must load quickly for users to stay on the site’s page. With WebP, the image size is reduced while the quality remains high. You can find and download a converter suitable for various systems on the Google Developers site.

Image optimized for the webOnly PNG and JPEG images can be converted
Transparency and animation supported
Better quality than PNG and JPEG
The format is compatible with almost any browser.


The High-Efficiency Image File Format provides up to ten compression levels for fast image loading. The name stands for High-Efficiency File Format.

fast loadingCan’t be opened in any browser
Maintaining high quality
Support for animated images, transparent layers


The scope of the AV1 Image File Format is multimedia compression.

Files take up little space and load quicklyNot compatible with all browsers
Animation and transparent layers supported
Good color quality

What is the best image format?

JPEG is better suited for saving photos or pictures with a large variety of colors. At the same time, an inevitable loss of quality will occur when compressing an image in this format. If the file is used for further processing, saving it in TIFF format is better.

image format

It is best to use PNG to save pictograms, diagrams, images with transparency, or pictures containing a lot of text. When compressed using the PNG algorithm, image quality is not lost.

If small image size is a priority, JPG is better, and with high memory capabilities, it is worth taking advantage of PNG. When it is most important to get the highest quality, regardless of the size of the resulting file, TIFF is suitable. And when you need a minimal “weight” or animation effect, you can use GIF.

Related Articles

Back to top button