The question we frequently hear in regards to formatting is, “Why isn’t my artwork good enough?” It’s seldom a case of being “good enough” it’s more often than not a formatting issue.

How’s Your Math?

Vector graphics uses geometric shapes such as points or lines as the mathematical expression of the design. The shapes are assigned an exact position on the plane of the graphic where aspects such as color, shape, and thickness can be added. In this way, the size of the graphic can be increased without diminishing clarity or other qualities of the image. defines vector graphics, “Unlike JPEGs, GIFs, and BMP images, vector graphics are not made up of a grid of pixels. Instead, vector graphics are comprised of paths, which are defined by a start and end point, along with other points, curves, and angles along the way. A path can be a line, a square, a triangle, or a curvy shape. These paths can be used to create simple drawings or complex diagrams. Paths are even used to define the characters of specific typeface.”

What about PPI & DPI?

PPI – Pixels Per Inch- is the resolution of artwork on a computer screen. Vector graphics don’t have an assigned PPI resolution because they are infinitely scaleable due to being constructed by mathematical means. PPI applies to raster graphics such as .jpg or .tif file types. Let’s say an image is 8″ x 10″ at 300 PPI. If you scale that to 80″ x 100″, the PPI would drop to 30. Quality decreases as the image gets larger.

DPI- Dots Per Inch- is the amount of ink dots digitally printed in a square inch. The higher the DPI, the better the printed quality. However, if the file being printed has a low PPI, increasing the printed resolution won’t improve the quality. Since vector graphics don’t have resolution restraints, they will print perfectly every time with no pixellation or distortion.

This is an example of vector graphics. Notice the small points and handles? Those are the mathematical makeup of the design.

This is an example of raster graphics when scaled. The smoothness disappears and is replaced with blocky hard edges called pixellation.

The best policy when working with graphics is to rely on a competent design team. Whether you have an in-house graphic designer or outsource your graphics be sure to use a professional who understands how the artwork transfers to print. If you’re still vexed about vector Contact our design team, they can point you in the right direction.

TKO Tech Talk is a column written by Eric Benge, who has over 10 years experience in the design and print industries. Technology changes rapidly, the advice or information included in these articles is considered accurate and helpful as of the date they are posted online. If you have any questions, technology related or otherwise, please contact us.