Raster vs. Vector Graphics: A Guide for Large Format Printing

Raster vs. Vector Graphics: A Guide for Large Format Printing

When designing for large format printing, it's important to know the difference between raster and vector graphics. Both have their unique qualities and applications. Let's unpack the differences to help you make informed decisions for your projects.

Raster Graphics: A Pixel-Based Approach

Understanding Raster:
 Raster images are composed of pixels, tiny coloured squares that form an entire picture. Their quality relies on the resolution, typically expressed in DPI (dots per inch). The higher the DPI, the more detailed the image.


  • Excellent for high detailed designs.
  • Ideal for photographic images.


  • Limited scalability; enlarging can reduce clarity.
  • Quality is resolution dependent.

Vector Graphics: The Scalable Solution

Vector Breakdown:
 Vector graphics utilise mathematical formulas to define points and paths, making them endlessly scalable without losing quality.


  • Highly scalable, perfect for logos and straightforward designs.
  • Consistent quality at any size.


  • Sometimes not as easy to create as detailed graphics compared to Raster.
  • Vector is unable to replicate the same quality as you would have from a photograph or similar style graphic.

Implications for Large Format Printing

Understanding the strengths and weaknesses of both raster and vector graphics directly influences the success of large format projects.

Raster Considerations: 
For large prints, a high-resolution raster image is crucial. Enlarging a low-res raster can lead to a pixelated or blurry outcome.

Vector Benefits:
 Vector graphics are reliable for brand-centric materials like logos. Their scalability ensures that these designs remain sharp regardless of size. 

Integrating Both for Optimal Results

With modern design tools like Adobe Illustrator and CorelDRAW, it's possible to integrate raster elements within vector designs, offering a balance between detail and scalability.

When large format printing, understanding raster and vector graphics is fundamental. Each has its place, and with the right knowledge, you can ensure your projects shine. Whether aiming for detailed imagery or scalable designs, mastering the application of both types will elevate your work to the next level and standardise the quality of your output.