Vector files, do you ever hear about them? Well, if you work in the world of graphic design or illustration, chances are you’ve already dealt with it at some point. But what are they really? And why are they so useful? Let’s see.
A vector file is a type of image that is stored as a series of calculations and instructions, rather than pixel-to-pixel data as in raster files. What does that mean? Well, it means that you can make a vector image infinitely large or small without losing quality. This makes them ideal for use in print design, such as logos, or other projects where sharpness is important. In addition, vector files are often smaller in size than raster files, so they are easy to send and save.
Vector file formats
There are different formats of vector files, such as SVG, AI, EPS, PDF and CDR. Unfortunately, not all file formats work with every app or software, so it is wise to think about possible uses of the file before choosing a format.
- SVG stands for Scalable Vector Graphics and is an open standard format that works well for Web design.
- AI is a format developed by Adobe and is often used in professional graphic design.
- EPS is a format often used for printed materials
- PDF is a universal format that works with almost any software.
- CDR stands for CorelDRAW, a popular program for vector design.
How to use vector files:
Vector files can be used for all kinds of projects, from print design to web design to illustration. For example, you can edit a vector image and export it to another format, such as JPEG or PNG for web use or PDF for print.
In some cases, you may have multiple versions of the same design or file. For example, you might design a business card in Illustrator and save the file in .ai format. You might need a .pdf file to send to the printer, so you save the finished design as a .pdf file. But you still always save the .ai file as a working file for any future changes.
In short, vector files are a powerful format with many advantages. There are many different formats, each with its own compatibility and purpose of use. And they can be used for all kinds of projects. If you want to learn more about working with vector files, we recommend reading on and researching what software and tools are available.
How to open and edit a vector file?
Not all graphic design software or tools support vector image files. Some programs, such as Adobe Photoshop, can open vector files, but they do not offer the ability to edit vector files or create new vector images. For example, in Photoshop, you can open, view or print a vector image. But you can’t edit the vector file without rasterizing it. A rasterized file will no longer be a vector file, and you lose the ability to scale the image to a larger size without affecting clarity.
If you want to edit an existing vector file, you must open it in a program that supports the specific file extension. Here are some of the most popular programs and the vector file types they support:
- Open files in these formats: .ai, .eps, .svg, .svgz, .pdf, .dwg, .dxf, .cdr, and more
- Save files in these formats: .ai, .eps, .svg, .pdf, .fxg
- Open files in these formats: .ai, .eps, .svg, .svgz, .pdf, .cdr, and .vsd
- Save files in these formats: .svg, .svgz, .eps, .pdf, .dwg, .fxg, and more
- Open files in these formats: .ai, .eps, .svg, .pdf, .cdr, .dwg, .dxf, .vsd, and more
- Save files in the following formats: .cdr, .ai, .svg, .svgz, .pdf, dwg, .dxf, and more
- Open files in these formats: .eps, .svg, .svgz, .gvdesign (the Pro version can also open .ai files)
- Save files in these formats: .gvdesign, .svg, .pdf
If you save a vector file, think about what programs others will need to open the file and work with it. Consider what program they use, that way you can make sure the program supports the file. If you don’t know what software or app they use, it might be wise to save the file in a few different formats so they can work with it no matter what program they use.
What are native file formats?
Ok, so you’ve created your design and you want to save it. Although the above software and applications all allow you to open, edit and save your design in different types of image files, not all types of files are equal. For example, if you save your artwork in .svg format with Adobe Illustrator, only the active artboard is saved. But if you save it as an .ai file, Illustrator’s native format, all the data is saved and you can continue working with it later.
Each program has its own native format, so we recommend saving your work in the native format of the program you are using until it is finished. Then you can save it in other formats so that other programs can open it. For example, you can save a file in .ai format while you work on it, and then save the finished design in .pdf format to send it for printing.
Here are the native file formats of each program:
- Adobe Illustrator – .ai
- Inkscape – .svg
- CorelDRAW – .cdr
- Gravit Designer – .gvdesign
Saving in legacy formats
Be aware that programs such as Adobe Illustrator are always changing and adding new features in each release. This means that older versions of Illustrator, for example, cannot open .ai files saved in more recent software versions. When you save a file, you have the option to save it in a legacy version so that people using an older version of the software can still open the file.
Just keep in mind that if you save a file in a legacy version, you may lose some data due to new features not supported by the older version. A warning may appear if you save a file in an older version, stating what data will be lost.
All in all, we recommend saving your work in the current version unless there is a specific reason to use the file in an older version.
Saving text in outlines
When preparing a file for printing, it is important to save the text as outlines. This allows you to be sure that the text will look the way you intended because the printer probably does not have the font. If the printer does not have a font, the program will convert the text to another font, which can change the appearance of your design.
The solution is to convert the text to outlines. This means that the text is converted to vector shapes, so it does not matter if the printer does not have the font. Note that once converted to outlines, the text cannot be edited. So we recommend saving two versions of your file: a working version for yourself, where the text has not yet been converted to outlines, and a version for the printer where the text has been converted to outlines.
In Adobe Illustrator, go to Type > Create Outline to convert the text to outlines.
How do I know if my file is a true vector?
In most vector formats, you can include raster images in the vector file, such as a .png raster image in an .eps file. Although the file is saved in a vector format, it will not have the same properties as a true vector file because it contains raster image. Fortunately, there is an easy way to tell if your file contains raster images. In Adobe Illustrator, go to Window > Left and you will see a list of all the raster images used in your file.
Vector files have a number of advantages over raster files. The biggest advantage is that they can be scaled up without losing quality. This is particularly useful for certain types of projects, such as logo designs. There are several common vector file extensions, such as .ai, .eps and .svg, but it is usually best to use the native format of the software or application you are using, unless there is a specific reason to use a different extension.