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About the Blog

As I’ve mentioned throughout this site, I’m very passionate about what I do. It is a driving force in my life, and is highly fulfilling. As a result, I tend to talk about it. At length. To everyone I know. I suspect that this blog will be no exception.

Hopefully, my quirky interests and odd sense of humor won’t confuse/infuriate you. If they do, well, I won’t be offended if you decide to read the musings of someone more interesting than little ol’ me.


State of the Watson / Portfolio Updates

2.21.11, 10:36am
Freelancing, Web Design, Web Development,

Vector? Raster? Huh buh WHA?

7.23.10, 03:25pm
Technical Lessons, The Internet, Web Design,

Office Party! or I Heart West Seattle

7.7.10, 11:28am
Freelancing, Ikea, Office Issues, West Seattle,

The Longest Blog Post In Watson Design History

5.27.10, 08:56pm
Freelancing, Web Design,

It’s time for a change, y’all

3.2.10, 10:32am
Comic Nerdiness, Tech, Web Design, Webcomics,

Hourly Comic Day

2.2.10, 09:03pm
The Internet, Webcomics,

She’s ALIIIIVE!!

1.19.10, 03:53pm
Blogging/Writing, Print Design, Tech, Unreasonable Expectations, Web Design,

Zee Queen Bitch Ees Dead

11.13.09, 04:18pm
Awareness, Environment, Philosophy, The Internet,

I’m back in the saddle again

11.11.09, 11:54am
Blogging/Writing, Environment, NaBloPoMo, Seattle Weather,

Just keep swimming…

11.8.09, 11:24pm
Blogging/Writing, NaBloPoMo, Philosophy,

Vector? Raster? Huh buh WHA?

7.23.10, 03:25pm | Technical Lessons, The Internet, Web Design,

If you’ve ever had to deal with a professional print house or a print designer, chances are good that you’ve heard the terms “vector”, “rasterized” or “pixelated” tossed around a bit.

“The image you provided is too small, do you have it in a vector format?”
“It’s a rasterized image, so if we size it bigger, it’ll become pixelated.”
“To cut up the letters, we’ll need to rasterize them first.”

Confused? Well, I’m here to fill you in. Follow me down the magical path to Print Essentials 101.

There are two ways of classifying digital images, and objects that make up an image (such as text, photos, etc). Those classifications are “Vector” and “Raster”. Vector images are essentially just a wire frame, that’s filled in with a solid color or a gradient. They’re created using geometric shapes, such as points, lines, and curves, and are easily edited. Raster images, on the other hand, are static “flat” images. A good example of rasters are digital photos.

Vector images are everywhere in our digital lives. Fonts are really just lots and lots of vector images. What determines the shape of a vector image is the Vector Path.

The blue line in the image above is the path for this vector. The little boxes are the vector points, which are used to determine the curve of the lines in-between the points. Because the points are really what controls the shape of the vector, you can change the image drastically by moving the points and adjusting the length and curve of line between them.

Because vector images are a defined by geometric equations, they can be easily resized smaller or larger, without constraint.

Rastered images also abound. Photographs, web image files (such as JPEGs), and scanned images are all examples of rasters. Rastered images are composed of pixels. Pixels are very small squares, which contain a small piece of information about their color and shade/gradient. Put altogether, they create the image or photo.

Raster images can be resized as well, but unlike vectors, they have limitations. Every time a rastered image is resized, it becomes distorted. When a raster is sized smaller than the original, several pixels are compressed together into a single pixel. There is some distortion, but it’s usually not very noticeable (unless the sizing down is really drastic, like sizing a 1000px by 1000px image down to 100px by 100px image). The quality of the “shrinking” compression will vary depending on the graphics program you’re using.

When a raster is sized larger, however, the distortion is much more obvious. A single pixel is expanded and stretched over several pixels. Because of this, the pixels are more apparent, and the image looks “boxy”. Which is where the term “pixelated” comes from.

As you see in the image above, while you can’t really see the distortion in the smaller icon, the distortion in the larger icon is much more noticeable.

If a rastered graphic is going to be printed or displayed on a website, the designer or printer will require you to provide an image that’s the exact size they need for the finished product. No designer or printer will “blow up” a rastered image, because the quality of the image becomes so poor. Most designers and printers greatly prefer vector images, as they can be easily sized and resized to fit whatever medium they need.

So, there you go! Hopefully that all made sense. I hope you took notes, because there will be a quiz on this next week. Class dismissed!

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