What Is the Definition of Vector Graphics?

by Stacie Connerty

In vector graphics, shapes, lines, curves and points are used to represent or create an image in computer graphics. Creating vector graphics in today's environment is similar to learning to use a word processing program. The lines and points of vector graphics allow a lot of flexibility in which one can design.


For vector graphics, lines, colors, curves or any other geometrical shapes and attributes are stored in the form of primitives. So every time an image is constructed, it uses these primitives. This gives the construction a dynamic nature. The image can be constructed differently every time depending on the size, screen and resolution. As the image is created on demand, customized every time, it always shows up as expected without any degradation in quality. A vector image adjusts itself according to the environment.


In raster graphics, an image is made up of pixels. Pixel is simply a short form of picture elements. Picture elements are small dots from which a picture is made. The greater the density of the dots, the better the image quality. So, when such images are magnified, they give a grainy appearance. When magnified beyond a point, they become blurred. The quality degrades with positive scaling or an increase in the size of an image. The images also change when the screen resolution is changed. This is the case with bitmap images. These images also require more memory to store the images and the files are larger in size.


An advantage of using vector graphics is that a vector based images can be scaled infinitely without degradation. There is absolutely no loss of clarity even if the image is made 1,000 times larger or smaller. This is because raster graphic images are based on pixels but vector graphics are not. Vector graphics are made up of mathematical equations that adjust themselves to the magnitude of the image.


Both for creating and editing vector graphic images, vector graphic drawing software is needed. Minor changes in the mathematical formulas are done to make any changes in the image. Stretching, twisting and color changes can be easily done by the user. The graphical user interface of this software is very intuitive. The size of the vector image depends on the screen resolution for which the image will be generated.


One drawback with the vector graphic is that it may not be supported on some systems. Also some system may not support the vector graphic that was originally generated from some other computer. In other words, vector graphics generated from different computers may be incompatible. To overcome this situation, a vector graphic can also be converted into a bitmap image easily, although reversing this is not simple. Obviously, once converted, the vector graphic image will lose its advantages and not be very scalable like before. It will just be like any other bitmap image.


In the past, many people have thought of or considered vector graphics or geometric graphics to be somewhat on the boring side. Due largely in part to advances in technology, there are some amazing programs available now in which exciting and unusual graphics can be created.

About the Author

Stacie Haight Connerty has been writing and editing for almost twenty years. She has been nationally published in several magazines and currently writes for several parenting websites. Stacie has an MBA in marketing and has worked in marketing/public relations for 15 years.