Vector graphics

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Vector graphics is the use of geometrical primitives such as points, lines, curves, and shapes or polygon(s), which are all based on mathematical equations, to represent images in computer graphics.

Vector graphics formats are complementary to raster graphics, which is the representation of images as an array of pixels, as is typically used for the representation of photographic images.[1] There are instances when working with vector tools and formats is the best practice, and instances when working with raster tools and formats is the best practice. There are times when both formats come together. An understanding of the advantages and limitations of each technology and the relationship between them is most likely to result in efficient and effective use of tools.

Contents

Overview

Computer displays are made up from grids of small rectangular cells called pixels. The picture is built up from these cells. The smaller and closer the cells are together, the better the quality of the image, but the bigger the file needed to store the data. If the number of pixels is kept constant, the size of each pixel will grow and the image becomes grainy (pixellated) when magnified, as the resolution of the eye enables it to pick out individual pixels.

Vector graphics files store the lines, shapes and colours that make up an image as mathematical formulae. A vector graphics program uses these mathematical formulae to construct the screen image, building the best quality image possible, given the screen resolution. The mathematical formulae determine where the dots that make up the image should be placed for the best results when displaying the image. Since these formulae can produce an image scalable to any size and detail, the quality of the image is limited only by the resolution of the display, and the file size of vector data generating the image stays the same. Printing the image to paper will usually give a sharper, higher resolution output than printing it to the screen but can use exactly the same vector data file.

Editing vector graphics

Vector graphic drawing software is used for creating and editing vector graphics. The image can be changed by editing screen objects which are then saved as modifications to the mathematical formulae. Mathematical operators in the software can be used to stretch, twist, and colour component objects in the picture or the whole picture, and these tools are presented to the user intuitively through the graphical user interface of the computer. It is possible to save the screen image produced as a bitmap/raster file or generate a bitmap of any resolution from the vector file for use on any device.

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