This article is about Pixel vs Vector in Digital graphics. I will also cover how to convert pixel to vector and vice versa.

Pixel vs Vector

In the world of digital graphics there are two broad categories, pixels and vectors. A pixel image is made up of a grid of squares or bitmap. Each of these squares is a pixel or picture element. And the more zoomed in I get, the more those pixels look like what they are, just a series of colored squares. Pixels are used for photographic or continuous tone images. Vector graphics on the other hand are made up of paths, anchor points, connected by path segments. And when I zoom in on this, no matter how large I get it remains as crisp as it does at smaller view sizes.

Depending on what you are doing. One type may be more appropriate than the other. Photoshop excels at creating pixel based imagery. It also does a few vector things as well. But it’s mainly about pixel based imagery. Illustrator excels at creating vector based imagery. It also dabbles with some pixel stuff, but it’s mainly about vectors.

Vectorizing and Rasterizing

But what if you have one type (lets say pixel) and you want to convert it to the other type (lets say vector)? One can be converted to other type up to a point. To rasterize means converting vectors to pixels. To vectorize is the opposite, converting pixels to vectors. Certain looks or effects in Photoshop, can’t be applied to a Smart Object. In such cases, you need to rasterize the layer. Flattening the layer has same result as that of rasterizing the layer.

In Illustrator, to convert these pixel to vectors use Image Trace. You may need to play with the options Image Trace panel to get good result. When you’re happy with your tracing result, Expand the result. And what I have now are many, many anchor points and paths, the implication being that this is now completely scalable. I can make it small, I can make it big, and its quality is going to remain