Survey of Design and Media Art
Instructor: Lindsay Grace

Introduction to Visual File Formats

There are two standard types of formats for creating image files. These are vector graphics and bitmap graphics.

Vector Graphics:

Vector graphics are graphics created by putting many individual shapes together. Vector graphics programs are usually called “drawing” programs. They use the idea that one shape can often be broken down into simple shapes and then described using a collection of simple shapes. Consider the following example:

Vector graphics are sometimes called object-oriented graphics because they use these objects, or shapes, to create an image. Vector graphics can be enlarged and shrunken without losing image quality. Vector graphic file formats include encapsulated postscript (eps), Adobe format (ai), and Windows metafile format (.wmf).

Bitmap Graphics

Mapping pixels to specific locations on the screen creates Bitmap graphics. Bitmap graphics programs are usually called painters. Bitmap file formats include tag image file format (tiff), .Joint Photographic Experts Group format (jpg), and graphic interchange format (.gif). Bitmap files do not scale well because the software that displays the graphic must interpret where individual pixels should be when the image is shrunken or expanded.

Example of Bitmap scaling

Original Image
Image expanded to10 times actualy size, notice graininess and blur.