Vector vs Bitmap

Digital images can generally be divided into two categories. Bitmap or Vector graphics. Knowing the difference and how to use these two types of graphics can greatly improve your designs.

Bitmap Images

Bitmap images are exactly what their name says they are: a collection of bits that map out an image. The image consists of a matrix of individual pixels that all have their own color.

Vector Graphics

Vector graphics are images that are completely described using mathematical definitions. The image below shows the principle.


To the left you see the image itself and to the right you see the actual lines that make up the drawing. Each individual line is made up of either a vast collection of points with lines interconnecting all of them or just a few control points that are connected using shapes. It is this latter method that generates the best results and that is used by most drawing programs.

vectorPersonally, I like to use vector graphics as much as possible. You never have to worry about low resolution, you can easily scale up or down without issue, and you have a lot more design flexibility.

I do have one issue with vector graphics….texture. Texture in vector artwork is often times hard to achieve and has the potential to increase the file size tremendously. I have found a solution for this issue. What I like to do is create as much of my artwork in Adobe Illustrator as possible so I have a vector file to work with.

texturedOnce I have my design, I will transfer the vector over to Photoshop. While in Photoshop, I can manipulate my design by adding textures, backgrounds, blending modes, etc. Anything to enhance the design.

Vector and Bitmap files are important to understand so you can maximize the potential of your design. Once you learn to combine the two file types, a whole new world of possibilities opens up to you.

Happy Designing!

Andy McGuire

Andy is the Graphic Designer for teelaunch. Basically he gets to make fun stuff all day long while the rest of us actually work.

3 thoughts on “Vector vs Bitmap”

  1. Hello, Andy — good read and great points.

    I presently use another fulfillment service and the combination method you describe — but I have difficulty in producing PNG 24 (with transparency) files less than 15MB in size. My files are roughly 14×18 @ 240 dpi. What is the max size file your system will allow me to upload. I could be wrong, but I do recall trying Teelaunch in the past, only to find that you could not accommodate 10-15 MB files. I do not wish to decrease my image quality or use indexed color. Please advise.Thanks!

    1. Hey Anthony!

      Great question! I hope to answer the best I can… Our apparel file sizes cap out at 12MB and all other product files cap out at 6MB. I too run into the issue of large file sizes from time to time, but have found a few “work-arounds” to downsize my files without losing great detail. If necessary, I lower my PNG file to 8-bit with transparency. This usually cuts my file size in half, and still maintains a high enough quality to transfer on to my product. There are also free PNG optimizers out there that clear out excess layering/legacy files. is just one example.

      I hope you find these suggestions helpful… Take care!

      1. Thanks, Andy! I will try your suggestions — although the transparency will have a pixelated edge. I believe I can work with 12 MB, so I will be giving Teelaunch a try.

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