design decoded

Design Decoded: Vectors

I'm starting a new blog series called Design Decoded. Like many other graphic designers, I'm guilty of talking shop and throwing around confusing design terms with clients. One of the downsides of freelancing and working alone most of the day is totally forgetting that the clients you work with aren't designers as well. Multiple times after sending emails or chatting on the phone with a client, I've had them kindly ask me to backtrack and explain what the heck that RBG color space was I was talking about and why it was important. 

So, for anyone who has worked with a designer who has thrown out confusing terms or acronyms, or just wants to learn more about design, this is for you!

What is a vector?

Anyone who has gone through a business branding process has definitely heard the term "vector" thrown around in regard to their logo. And if you haven't heard of the term, you probably should have. So, why is it so important? 

There are two types of graphics: vector and raster. The everyday person is much more familiar with raster graphics - any JPG or PNG image you have saved on your computer is raster, and any photo you take with your phone is raster as well. Raster graphics are very common and do their job very well - the downside is that raster graphics have a set size. They are created using a set number of pixels, and can never be made larger than that number of pixels they were originally created with. Whenever someone says an image or graphic looks "pixelated," it's because someone has made that image or graphic larger than it was originally created for.

So, how do we avoid this? You might have guessed it: with vector graphics! Vector graphics are especially important in logo design so your company's logo can be scaled as large or small as you need it to be while still maintaining its detail. Vector graphics are made with vectors (I know, as if this couldn't get more confusing) instead of the pixels used in raster graphics. Vectors are different shapes and lines combined to make the graphic, as opposed to pixels, which uses small squares of different colors. 

It's super important to have your graphic designer deliver your logo in vector format, in addition to JPG, PNG, and any other format they may give you. You don't know if you'll need your logo to be placed on large signage or scaled down for a sponsor deck in the future, so it's best to be armed with all your resources in the beginning. Even though vector graphics can be made into raster graphics, it can't be done the other way around without losing certain details in the graphic. All vector graphics will come in an AI, EPS or SVG file (the first two being the most common used by designers), and are almost always created in Adobe Illustrator. 

Make sense? Confusing? Awesome? What would you like to hear about in the next Design Decoded? Leave a comment and let me know!