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Intern Tidbits – Vector vs Bitmap

Kim introduces Intern Tidbits by comparing vector and bitmap. Tidbits are a shorter post, usually less than 400 words,& provides quick tips, tricks or tidbits.

Hi! With this week’s post, I’m introducing a new part of Intern Insights–Intern Tidbits! Tidbits will be my mini blog series for topics that aren’t long enough for a whole blog post, but are still important to share! These posts will be shorter than my regular posts but still jam packed with good info! I hope these short ones are still fun to read!

First, what are vector and bitmap images?

Before I can talk about the differences between vectors and bitmaps, I should specify what they are and how/where we use them.

Long road with double-yellow lines, mountain in the distanceFirst is a bitmap. This photo of a long road (left) I found on Unsplash is an example of a bitmap image. The reason these images are called bitmaps is that the pixels are arranged in a grid of little squares. (See more info about pixels here.) Those individual squares are all different colors to make an image appear. Think of it like a mosaic!

Cartoon drawing of a light-skinned, dark-haired young woman holding a pencilNext is a vector. This drawing of yours truly (right) is a vector. A vector is a digital-only image made up of points, lines, and curves using mathematical equations. Thankfully, designers don’t usually have to do those equations because programs like Illustrator do them for us. Because vectors are made up of mathematical equations instead of pixels, they can be infinitely resized without losing any resolution.


So, what’s the difference?

Black circle with a clean edge on a white backgroundBlack circle with a blurry edge on a white backgroundThe main difference between bitmaps (right) and vectors (left) is their makeup and resolution. While vectors can be infinitely resized without losing resolution, bitmaps are pretty limited. Bitmaps have a set number of pixels (also called bits), and it’s almost impossible to add pixels without making the image look super blurry. 



Why use both, then?

While vectors sound way better than bitmaps in terms of resolution, they’re not perfect. Bitmaps have hundreds or thousands of colors in just one image, whereas vectors can only have one solid color in each shape. Bitmaps are used for photos, videos, games, and print, just to name a few. Vectors are used for stickers, signs, and posters, to name a few of those. They both have their time and place where they’re most useful!

I hope this shorter post was still a fun read! I’ll most likely be writing more of these in the future for quick questions, tips, and fun facts about design. Cartoon drawing of a light-skinned, dark-haired young woman holding a pencil

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