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What is a Vector image – and why is it important for promotional products?

I often tell clients that I need their artwork in Vector format – I will explain why in a moment, but first, as I realise not everyone knows what a vector image is – I thought I would explain what a vector file is, and then explain why it’s important for artwork purposes.

Vector files are image files (logos, infographics etc.) that are created using graphic software (such as Adobe Illustrator). Each object (shape / letter / part of a logo) can be manipulated individually – every single object in that image can be changed in terms of colour, size, shape or position. As an example – using the Chilli Promotional Products logo, if I wanted to remove the “stalk” from the “Chilli I” and replace it with a Santa hat to make it a festive logo for any Christmas marketing I’m doing (sorry for mentioning the C word whilst we’re still looking forward to picnics and sunbathing!) then this could easily be done with a vector file. Similarly, if I wanted to change the logo into all silver to print on a black product, again, it can easily be done. Another fundamental element of a Vector file is that it can be scaled indefinitely with no loss of quality.

A jpg image, however is part of a collection of file types called Raster files (along with .gif .png and .tif files) – these images are made up using a fixed number of coloured pixels and as such, the individual elements are not open to manipulation- but more importantly, they cannot be effectively stretched to a size beyond the size they were originally intended for – or at least not without distorting the image – or making it look grainy. images-for-artwork-blog

Most promotional products require Vector artwork for 2 main reasons. Firstly the quality of vector artwork will always be perfect – no fuzzy edges, no distortion, perfect colour reproduction. Secondly, many promotional items are screen printed which means the printers need to be able to separate out each colour in the logo to create the screen for each colour…. This can only be done with vector artwork where they can essentially remove all elements that are not in the current colour to create each screen. images-for-artwork-blog-2

In conclusion – I am not saying that .jpg files are no good for printing on promotional items– they can be printed on some digitally printed items and they can look fabulous if it’s a really good resolution file. BUT – if they are being printed in a size that is not their original size, you may find that they become pixelated and distort your fabulous piece of artwork.

If you work with a graphic designer for your logo / artwork, they should be able to provide your logo and any graphics in various different formats. If you get your logo designed online, it’s always worth asking for all the file types at the time you order.

If you don’t have your artwork in vector format, it’s really not the end of the world – in most cases, I can get the artwork redrawn in the required format for you to ensure that the products I’m producing for you are just perfect for your needs – there is usually a charge for this, but it then means you have the artwork in vector format for anything you need to do in the future!

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