What are Vector Files and What are Their File Formats?

Vector Files

When working with graphics, you will often encounter a format of image called a vector graphic. Vector graphics utilize geometry to create a smooth image at any size. Vectors are not pixel based, or bitmapped, and therefore can be infinitely scaled up or down without loss of resolution. They can usually be recognized by the flat, illustrated look they have. They can be used alone, in conjunction with, or converted to bitmapped images.

Here are the different types of vector file formats and what they are used for.
  1. AI (adobe illustrator) Illustrator is a powerful program used to create vector graphics. .ai files contain all project information for editing these vectors. Illustrator is part of the Adobe Creative Suite.
  2. EPS (Encapsulated PostScript) is one of the most common vector files. Mostly used as interchange in the printing industry, it is widely accepted by most programs and platforms. This meant that you had to use a very indirect route to generate a picture preview of the file unless you were a printer. Now, especially on Macs, EPS is much more streamlined. It is also often used when downloading vector images from the Internet, as it includes all information, but retains editing capabilities.
  3. PDF (Portable Document Format) is a widely used format. The appeal of pdf is that it can be used across all platforms, can be editable, and can embed images and fonts when sending to others (no loss of linking images). Most computers are equipped to view pdf files.
  4. SVG (Scalable Vector Graphic) is a vector file format created for the Internet. It is an important component in many web applications such as interactive websites. Although this format does not have a compression system of its own, it can be compressed using a compression tool or just zipping the file.
  5. DXF (Drawing Exchange Format) is used to support CAD based systems and applications. It is used as a method of data transfer between AutoCAD and other programs, as well as sending data to production equipment. It is an older file-type intended to represent the main file type of AutoCAD, DWG (Drawing). Though, as AutoCAD has become more advanced, less people use it, mostly due to lack of documentation on use and updates. Some versions can be viewed in a text-editor, to read and edit by coding.

As you can see, there is a way to present and work with vector files for any situation at hand.  If you have additional questions on which file format to use please feel free to contact us and we can help you choose the best option.