November 12, 2009

Bitmap vs. Vectors


Bitmap images are pixel based, and can support hundreds and thousands of colors per image. This allows for a great amount of detail and tonal quality to be achieved. The millions of pixels create a very rich image, and cannot be detected unless you zoom in.


  • more colors available for each image
  • details are greater
  • each pixel can be manipulated, allowing for a lot of freedom when editing/altering an image.
  • an image cannot be enlarged past its original size, or the computer attempts to create the missing data where there are no pixels, resulting in a fuzzy/blurry image.
  • pixelation of an image also occurs when you try to manipulate or warp it

Vectors are shapes that consist of points, lines, and curves. They are mathematical images, allowing for more manipulations. These images are made in computer programs.

  • retains its quality, no matter how much the image is enlarged
  • can be filled with solid colors, gradients, and even patterns
  • ideal for things that need to be represented in multiple colors and sizes, such as logos
  • typically very simple in comparison to bitmaps
  • look rather flat
*In their defense though, vectors have become increasingly photo-realistic lately. As it becomes easier and easier to make vectors with such high amounts of detail, artists can take the liberty of being hyper-realistic, and eliminating elements not wanted in the bitmap version while adding their own details. Not sure if this is a good thing, as it would make it hard to distinguish what is real and what is not, but the idea that artists can improve upon reality (ex: a bitmap photography) is not a new one, but now we can just scale it to fit any size we want.*

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