Vector Graphics Explained: How to Create Absolutely Stunning Logos, Ads, and UIs

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Vector graphics are all around us and are an important way to communicate information visually, whether it’s company branding, street signage, or a flyer in the storefront. of a coffee. But vector graphics themselves are even more fascinating when you look behind the shapes and fonts that combine to communicate a message at a glance, and recognize them for what they really are, and why they are. such a powerful tool in any designer’s toolbox.

Before we dive into what vector graphics are, let’s shed some light on the two main types of infographics: vectors and rasters. Chances are you’re already familiar with the latter thanks to many of the more common file formats – JPEG and PNG – falling into this category. The former is less common but is essential to digital design, with the most common file formats being EPS, AI or SVG, among a few other less used types.

If we see an image on a billboard or an advertisement on a subway car, that image started as one of these two essential types of graphics before ending up in the material world, but both graphics follow the same path from the digital pen to the advertisement on the wall.

Vector graphics are images created from mathematically defined points such as points, lines, and curves. They are 2D in nature, but with the help of colors, textures, and layers, they can be transformed into 3D. Vector images are saved to your device as a set of commands that represent a list of attributes of the stored image, and it’s this feature that makes them so incredibly useful for a graphic designer.

What are vector graphics used for?

A graphic advertising a hot summer sale with vector palm trees in the background

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Since vector graphics are essentially just mathematical functions that define a shape, they are easily scalable, editable, and overall easier to use. They are used for a variety of tasks, but advertising and marketing are by far the primary use cases for vector graphics.

Vectors are an ideal choice for logos, business cards, posters, and other materials used in promotional campaigns. What makes them suitable for advertising is their scalability among a few other attributes. You can enlarge or reduce a vector image in any proportion and it will not lose quality.

If you took the mathematical function that defines a perfect circle, it doesn’t matter if you enter the radius of this circle, it will always form the same shape regardless of its size.

Therefore, businesses turn to vector graphics for images that need to be enlarged and reduced for, for example, a billboard and a business card respectively. As they are not only painless to work with but also easy to store, they are an excellent choice for both online and print design. This gives businesses an added advantage of working with vectors as it allows them to ensure consistency between their online and print marketing campaigns.

Vector graphics have the immense potential to make illustrations appealing. With the addition of eye-catching colors and eye-catching designs, simple lines, dots and curves can be enhanced to grab consumers’ attention. Hence, they are also a personal favorite of web designers and app developers. Websites and apps often use vectors for interfaces, fonts, landing pages, and infographics.

Another common use for vectors is the designs you see on products, clothing, or merchandise. Since they are relatively easy to duplicate, brands and individuals choose them to flesh out their products.

What makes vector graphics different?

A side-by-side comparison showing how rasters rasterize when zoomed in, but vectors don't

The image on the left is rasterized so it can’t be scaled as cleanly as the vector image on the right, which doesn’t pixelate no matter how much you resize it and doesn’t lose detail, little it doesn’t matter how much you reduce it. (Image credit: Shutterstock)

As mentioned above, their ability to be resized without loss of quality gives vectors the biggest advantage over raster graphics. Since vectors are basically lines, points, and curves held together by a mathematical equation, they can be resized to any size you want without getting blurry. There is no chance of pixelation as no pixels are involved in the process unlike raster images. Because of this quality, vectors are called “resolution independent”.

Another unique feature of vector graphics that is closely related to mathematical equations being their building blocks is their small file size. Since vector images don’t store pixels, unlike rasters, they don’t require a lot of memory on your device. Images are saved as mathematical relationships translated into code. This allows businesses to easily save a number of vector images to their devices without overloading their systems.

File size and loading time are interrelated. Since vector images have small file sizes, they also load faster. Therefore, it is easier and faster to transfer and load vector images to various devices and programs.

As mentioned earlier, vector images are also easy to duplicate, making it very easy for designers to create copies of an existing design, making it simple to mosaic or tile an image. Another interesting feature of vector images is that they can easily be converted to raster images. Raster images, however, lack the ability to be converted to vectors, at least not easily.

Since vector images are not made up of pixels, they look cleaner and more precise. Have you ever noticed how a JPEG image loses its sharpness when zoomed in a lot? Vector images will never give you this problem.

How to make vector graphics?

Adobe Illustrator UI showing a stylized Toucan

The user interface of Adobe Illustrator, one of the most popular programs for producing vector graphics. (Image credit: Adobe)

Of the many programs available for creating vector images, Adobe Illustrator is the most popular and also the industry standard. However, you have to spend quite a lot of money to be able to use it. Among the best free vector alternatives to Adobe Illustrator, Vecteezy and Inkscape are some of the best graphic design software, especially if you’re on a tight budget or new to graphic design.

Learning how to create vector graphics is quite easy once you know how to use these programs. It might take some practice to be able to create complex designs, but you can create a simple graphic using just a few tools in Illustrator or another alternative vector design software. The most commonly used tools for vector designs in Illustrator are the Pen Tool, the Curvature Tool, the Shape Tools, and the Shape Builder Tool, and these four tools alone will allow you to create almost anything.

Let’s see how to create a simple house in Illustrator. If you don’t have Illustrator, don’t worry, Inkscape has pretty much the same functionality, although the interface may be different.

  • First, use the Rectangle tool in the Shape tools group of the toolbox.

An Adobe Illustrator artboard showing the stages of building a shape

(Image credit: future)
  • Then drag the base shape of the house onto the artboard.

An Adobe Illustrator artboard showing the stages of building a shape

(Image credit: future)
  • Next, select the Polygon tool from the Shape tool group. Create a hexagon with a diameter about as wide as the roof should be. After drawing the shape, look along the shape’s blue box frame for an anchor point slightly to the side of the center anchor for that side.

An Adobe Illustrator artboard showing the stages of building a shape

(Image credit: future)
  • By clicking and holding this anchor point, you can drag the mouse to increase or decrease the number of sides of the polygon. drag it until there are only three sides left.

An Adobe Illustrator artboard showing the stages of building a shape

(Image credit: future)
  • Using the rotation handle at the corners of the shape frame, rotate and position the triangle so that it forms the roof.

An Adobe Illustrator artboard showing the stages of building a shape

(Image credit: future)
  • You may need to use one of the handles to size the shape to fit on the artboard.

An Adobe Illustrator artboard showing the stages of building a shape

(Image credit: future)
  • At this point, the triangle and the rectangle are two separate shapes that can be colored separately, separated, to which effects are applied without affecting the other shape.

An Adobe Illustrator artboard showing the stages of building a shape

(Image credit: future)
  • If we select the Shape Builder tool, we can turn two shapes into one. To do this, use the selection tool while holding down the Shift key to select both shapes. With the shapes selected (it helps to click the lines of the shape rather than trying to click the center), select the Shape Builder tool from the toolbox. Then left click outside shapes you want to combine and drag the mouse over the two shapes that make up the house.

An Adobe Illustrator artboard showing the stages of building a shape

(Image credit: future)
  • When you release the mouse button, the shapes automatically combine into a single shape, eliminating the edges between them and taking on all the characteristics of the first shape drawn with Shape Builder.

An Adobe Illustrator artboard showing the stages of building a shape

(Image credit: future)

And that’s all. This vector image, although rather basic, can be enlarged to the size of a city block, but it will not be blurry or distorted.

There’s a lot more to know about the best way to use vectors to add depth and texture to an object, but this little house is a start, and it may be the start of a new one. graphic designer career.

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