A digital form of an image is necessary for it to be viewed, processed or stored on a computer. Digital formats basically amount to a description of the image, and there are a number of ways to go about this, the most simple of which is to go through it point by point naming its colors. This is called a raster image. Most of the time, people use this method to describe paintings, photos and any other graphic with gradual shifts in color. Raster Graphic editors were developed to edit these file types, but most are just basic editors where a user can look at the file and make minor changes. Adobe Photoshop is the leader in more complex raster graphics editors, with the ability to both correct individual images and combine more than one, plus draw raster graphics.
Although it is not impossible, drawing in raster graphics editors is somewhat cumbersome, and that’s where vector graphics editors come in. In this file type, the image is described by mathematical formulas. The basic elements that compose them are figures and lines instead of pixels like in raster images. Using solely raster imaging, every single point on every line would have to be described. Vector graphics provide an easier solution to drawing from scratch. These images are not photographs; they’re more like posters, with abrupt changes in color. CorelDraw, Macromedia Flash and Macromedia Freehand are all leading vector graphics editors.
When you scale a raster image, you will more than likely decrease its quality. In order to maintain the original level of definition, you need more hard drive space to store the file. With vector images, on the other hand, scale has virtually no effect, and therefore all sizes, within reason, take up close to the same amount of space. That is no doubt a major one of the benefits of vector graphics.
Now editors for both vector and raster graphics are being designed, those that previously covered one being expanded. How an editor deals with different types of graphics is dependent on its development. I mentioned that Photoshop was a raster graphics editor. Well, it now deals with vectors as well. Conversely, CorelDraw handles raster graphics. Powerful graphics editing software actually combines vector and raster graphics properties to form a better image. It is also now possible to have layers and assign them varying transparencies, forming our modern complexly constructed object.
Sometimes, it’s difficult for those just starting out in computer graphic design to ascertain which editors to use in what situations while a professional will know right off the bat. Since you will need to do both vector Flash and raster Photoshop graphics editing, we consider both of these in our book. Photoshop is very popular. Flash is convenient and easy to use, plus you can easily publish Flash content on the web.
In summary, you should now know that raster graphics describe by the pixel and vector graphics by mathematical equations. Together, they form modern graphics and today’s editors can handle both of them.