Vector formats – Which are there and for what?

Images can be displayed as raster or vector graphics.
One of the biggest advantages of vector graphics is that they can be infinitely scaled to any size without loss of quality. Scale down or enlarge: Vector images always remain sharp and clear. Because unlike raster graphics, vector graphics are based on mathematical shapes and algorithms, not pixels. Regardless of its size, a vector image is always calculated (rendered) the same.

In a vector graphic, each shape has its own colour. Colour changes within the image require new shapes. For this reason, vectors cannot reach the colour variety, colour gradients and shading of raster images. In terms of colours and details, vector graphics are thus limited.

Because of their characteristics, vector graphics are great for logos, icons, illustrations, fonts. Everything that needs to be scaled, converted into another format, and used in various media, as needed. And always in the highest quality. It is possible to vectorise raster images. And, for example, transform logos that exist as raster graphics into precise and flexible vector graphics. Many projects combine raster and vector graphics, such as layout design. A flyer contains, for example, a brand logo (vector) and product images (raster).

Vector graphics are created and edited using programs such as Adobe Illustrator, Inkscape, CorelDRAW or Sketch. Not every system or platform supports vector images. To use them, for example, on the web, vectors are usually rasterized and converted into pixel graphics. This depends also on the vector format. There are several file formats for vector graphics.

Br24 Blog Vector formats: Differences between drawing with vectors and painting with pixels


SVG stands for “Scalable Vector Graphics”. The format supports transparencies, animations and colour gradients. That can lead to large files. Due to its scalability and high image quality, SVGs are perfect for responsive design and graphics that are needed in different sizes, colours and shapes. Like logos, icons or simple web graphics. Unlike other vector formats, SVG is widely supported by any modern web browser. If necessary, the SVG format can be converted to a pixel format.


The proprietary vector format stands for Adobe Illustrator and is used to create and edit vector graphics. AI files can be used to edit every single element of a vector design. The format can contain embedded or linked raster images. However, Illustrator includes only limited raster editing tools. For easy reviewing and for printing, the AI format can be exported to PDF and EPS files. For use on the Web and further editing the format is converted to JPEG, PNG, GIF, TIFF or PSD.


The “Encapsulated PostScript” format is a graphic file format used primarily for printing high resolution graphics. Regardless of the size, an EPS graphic is always displayed in the correct resolution. The EPS format can include raster images, but is primarily intended for vectors. After export as JPEG, PNG or GIF, an EPS image can be used online.


The “Portable Document Format”, PDF for short, is a ubiquitous format and not only suitable for vectors. Whether vector graphics, raster graphics, form fields, spreadsheets … The PDF format can display everything. It is used, for example, to display documents and graphics correctly. Regardless of device, application, operating system or web browser. PDF format makes it easier to distribute, view, download and print documents on the Web. In print production, PDF files are often the preferred format for delivering a final design. PDF is not suitable for editing. Many applications, such as Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator, can export directly to PDF.


Find out all about image formats for raster graphics in our blog post “The correct format”.