What is a vector file?

What is a vector file?

A vector file is a type of digital image file that is created using mathematical algorithms, rather than pixels. This makes vector files scalable, meaning they can be increased or decreased in size without losing their quality or clarity. This feature makes them ideal for use in signs and graphics, as they can be resized to fit any size or shape without becoming blurry or distorted. In this article, we will take a closer look at what vector files are, how they are created, and how they are used in signs and graphics.

Vector Images vs Raster Images

Vector images are created using mathematical equations to position points, lines, curves, and basic shapes relative to each other. Since vector images are not based on pixels, they can be scaled up or down without losing quality or becoming pixelated. This makes vector graphics ideal for creating logos, illustrations, and other images that need to be rescaled or printed at various sizes. Typical vector image file types include: AI, EPS, SVG, and PDF.

Raster images are a type of digital image that is made up of a grid of pixels. Each pixel in the grid is assigned a color value, which determines the overall appearance of the image. Raster images are commonly used for photographs and other complex images that require a high level of detail. However, because the image is made up of individual pixels, it can become pixelated or blurry if it is enlarged beyond its original size. Additionally, raster images are typically larger in file size than other image formats. Typical raster image file types include: JPG, PNG, GIF, TIF, PSD.

Why are vector files better for signs and graphics?

Vector files are essential in creating high quality signs and graphics. Here are a few reasons why:

  1. Scalability: Vector files can be scaled up or down without losing image quality. This is because the image is created using mathematical equations, rather than pixels, which can become blurry or pixelated when resized. Vector files ideal for creating large-format signs and graphics, such as sign faces or vehicle wraps.
  2. Precision: Vector files allow for precise control over lines and curves, which is important in creating intricate designs and logos. This is particularly useful for creating signs and graphics that require a high level of detail, such as custom lettering or intricate patterns.
  3. Versatility: Vector files can be easily edited and manipulated, which makes them versatile for different types of signs and graphics. For example, vector files can be used to create vinyl lettering for a storefront, as well as an acrylic tenant panel on a monument sign.
  4. Professionalism: Using vector files ensures that the final product is of high quality and looks professional. This is important for businesses and organizations that want to create a strong brand identity and make a positive impression on customers.

I don’t have Vector files of my artwork, can it be converted?

Sometimes depending on how detailed your logo or artwork is, our designers can recreate the image by vectorizing or converting it to a vector format. However, not all artwork can be easily vectorized. Simple logos with clear lines and basic shapes are usually the easiest to convert into vector graphics, as the process involves tracing and recreating each element in the design using vector paths. This allows the designer to manipulate the design without losing quality or sharpness.

On the other hand, more complex designs, such as photographs, images with a lot of shading, or designs with intricate details, may be more difficult to vectorize. In some cases, it may be impossible to recreate the same level of detail as the original raster image, and the resulting vector image may appear simplified or flattened.

I have a PDF file, will it work for my sign or graphics project?

While PDF files can be created in either vector or raster format, not all PDF files are created equally. Sometimes, the images or design elements in a PDF file can be raster format, even if the text is in vector format. This can cause issues when the PDF is used in sign and graphic applications, where high-quality output is required.

For example, if a PDF file containing a logo is made up of raster graphics, it may not look crisp and clear when printed on a large banner or sign. This is because the individual pixels in the raster image become more visible when the image is enlarged, which can result in a blurry or pixelated appearance.


Vector files are a crucial component in creating high-quality signs and graphics. They allow for scalability, precision, versatility, and professionalism, which are all important in creating an effective and visually appealing design. If you need help with you artwork or logo design, feel free to contact us at design@ajsigns.com, and one of our Graphic Design Experts would be happy to help!

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