Bitmap Images vs. Vector Images: August 03 2021
Many people have questions regarding submitting artwork for garment decoration such as screenprinting and embroidering. While most people are familiar with raster, or bitmapped images, the preferred artwork format is vector.
There are two main types of image files: Raster and Vector. Raster images are created with pixel-based software such as Adobe Photoshop or captured with a camera or scanner. They are more common in general formats such as jpg, gif, png, and are widely used on the web. Vector graphics, on the other hand, are math-defined shapes created with vector software such as Adobe Illustrator. They are often used in CAD/engineering, 3D animation, and Graphic Design or for processes that reproduce an image onto an object such as engraving, embroidery, and screenprinting.
Vector images embedded in formats such as ai, eps, and svg are typically required by screenprinters and other garment decorators because they are math-defined shapes. They can be scaled with no loss in quality. Raster images, on the other hand, will result in “jaggy edges” when scaled up.
The two images below are close-up versions of the heart image above.
Notice the image on the left shows the jaggy, pixelated edges of a raster image, while the vector image on the right is clean. Notice also the "handles" present in the image on the right. This is a tell tale sign of a vector image. These types of images allow for the best quality when creating artwork for use in garment decorations.
The preferred formats are ai, eps, svg, and, if embedded with vector art, pdf.
One final note regarding images and formats: many vector art programs allow raster images to be embedded in the vector format. Unfortunately, this does not make the raster image a vector image. When submitting vector artwork, it might be helpful to open the image in a vector software such as Adobe Illustrator, select the image, and scale to confirm that no image quality is lost. Just remember not to save the file when finished.
Hopefully, this clears up any confusion when it comes to the preferred formats of artwork destined for garment decoration.