Promo University

What is Vector Art?

Alyssa Mertes

Published: October 28th 2020

If you're confused about why vector art matters and why you should care about it, then you're in the right place. Knowledge is power, and we guarantee you'll feel incredibly empowered after reading this guide and learning exactly what vector art is, why it's so important, and how it relates to graphic design, company logos, and promotional products.

Vector art, put simply, is any image that's created in Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop. These images are easy to resize and rescale without becoming fuzzy or jagged.

What's that you say? You'd prefer to learn about vector artwork by watching a video instead? We've got you covered. You asked; we listened. If you're more of a visual learner and are lucky enough to have speakers at your desk, check out the clip below:

Bubbles popcorn

Now that you've seen this handy video, you're probably starting to get an idea of why vector artwork plays such an important role in custom printing (and why it makes your logo look so awesome!). Craving more information on vector art? Read on, friends!

Vector art basics

What is Vector Art?

Vector graphics are sometimes also referred to as "draw graphics," but they mean the same thing. The technical definition of vector graphics is complicated, but in a nutshell vector files are a type of graphic that uses mathematical algorithms, allowing the image to be scaled or modified without loss of image quality or resolution. These images are easy to resize or rescale and result in a better quality graphic!

When you create an image in Adobe Illustrator (or in Freehand or CorelDRAW), you are creating a vector graphic. However, when you create an image in a program like Adobe Photoshop, you are creating a bitmap graphic, which is not a vectored format. A vector graphic retains its crispness at any magnification, but a bitmap graphic appears jagged when it's enlarged.

Vector pen

Why is Vector Art Required for Promotional Items?

You're probably wondering why we're making such a big deal about vector artwork. To put it simply, it's the stylish alternative to other printing techniques. When your artwork is in a vectored format (either .AI or .EPS), it allows you to increase or decrease the size of the graphic without compromising the integrity of the original image. What this means is we'll be able to easily resize your image without it looking distorted and blurry on your promotional products.

Creating a vector graphic, whether it's through Adobe Illustrator, Freehand, or CorelDRAW, gives your logo the opportunity to be displayed at its best quality. The end result is a crisp, clear, and readable image no matter what the final output or size! And when your image looks good, it makes your promotional products look even better!

Bad raster graphic

I Don't Have Vector Art. Can I Just Use Bitmap Or JPEG?

For your promotional products, you can try to use a low-resolution file containing a bitmap image (which means any type a file with the extension .BMP, .GIF, .PDF, .JPG, or .JPEG). However, because we care, we'll give you same warning that we gave above: if you try to scale or enlarge the size of a non-vector format like a bitmap file, then the image will become pixelated and have jagged edges when printed, like the Quality Logo Products logo here.

The featured JPEG image is blurry and deformed, and that's obviously not acceptable print quality! When you create your logo or artwork in a vectored format, it can be resized from business card dimensions to billboard dimensions without losing any of its sharpness! That kind of resizing is simply impossible with any of the bitmap files listed above.


What's The Difference Between Vector And Raster?

Unlike vector images, which are created using mathematical formulas, raster images are made up of pixels. When raster images are resized, there is a loss of resolution and crispness. That's why images saved as file formats like .JPEG and .GIF may have to be redrawn by our artists before they can be printed on your products. Only high-resolution raster images (300 dpi at full size) can be used "as is." Raster images work best for printing with four-color processing (also known as digital printing, CMYK printing, and full color printing).

Simply compare these vector and raster images to see why we prefer vectored artwork for your imprint. The vectored version of your logo is the one where the image is crisp and clear at any size or magnification.

How Can I Tell If My Art is Vectored Already?

You can tell your artwork is vectored in two ways:

  • Your artwork will be in an .AI, .EPS, .FH, or .CDR format.
  • When your artwork is resized in your design program of choice, it won't become jagged or distorted no matter how big you make it.

If you're not sure if your artwork is vectored, you can either check with your own graphic designer, or one of our friendly experts will be happy to help!

Radar broken

Vector art creation

Can I Just Save My File as an Adobe Illustrator (.AI) File and Make it Vectored?

Unfortunately, there is no "easy fix" to convert your existing artwork into a vectored format - simply saving your file with an .AI extension will not make your artwork vectored. Remember, in order for an image to be vectored, it needs to be built from scratch in a program like Adobe Illustrator (preferred).

Keep in mind that professionally-designed artwork usually has a vectored version somewhere, but not every computer can open vectored files because a specific program like Adobe Illustrator is required. Sometimes you can find a vectored file on your computer that you didn't even know you had, just because you've never been able to open it or view the icon! You can try searching your computer for art files by pressing the Windows key + "E," and then typing "ART" in the search bar. If you have the appropriate design program on your computer, you will see icons, but if not, the icons will appear as plain paper icons.


How Do I Convert My Artwork into a Vector?

To change your image or logo into vector art, it's sometimes necessary to speak with the original graphic designer of the artwork or the person who designed it for you. Many times, your artist will be able to convert a jpeg (.jpg) or bitmap file (.bmp) to a vectored format for you. If you don't have a graphic designer or your graphic designer cannot create a vectored version of your artwork, your sales rep will be happy to help you.

Designer wanted

What Does "Convert Font to Outlines" Mean, How Do I Do that to My Fonts?

"Converting font to outlines" means that you will have to change the font in your file from text to an object in order to maintain that font when it's printed.

Still confused? Allow us to break it down further! If a particular font is not installed on a computer trying to open your file, then the computer will substitute a generic font for your original font. This completely changes the way the font will appear and print! However, if your font is converted to outlines, then it allows the computer to read it as an image object rather than as just text.

So if you have specific fonts in your design that you want to use on your items, then you need to convert the fonts to outlines! For an overview of how to convert your fonts to outlines, check out the helpful video below.


Accepted File Formats

Adobe Illustrator CC or Earlier (Vector)

Adobe Illustrator is best for spot color logos and text on apparel, water bottles, pins, and many other popular promotional products. Illustrator is also the program that we use in-house to process your artwork. Files from Adobe Illustrator should be saved with an .AI or .EPS extension with the fonts converted to outlines or included on your flash drive/e-mail/etc. If images are placed in the file, the original images must be included as separate files when you send us your artwork. Please note: Placing Photoshop images in Illustrator does not automatically make them vector images.

Freehand and CorelDRAW (Vector)

Freehand and CorelDRAW are also best for spot color logos and text on your promotional products. However, it should be noted that the more gradients you use in these programs, the more time it will take for us to process your artwork. Files from Freehand or CorelDRAW should be saved with the file extensions .FH or .CDR, with fonts converted to outlines. If images are placed in the file, please include the originals as separate files when you send us your artwork.


Quark works well for combined graphics created from multiple image files, kind of like a big multi-format stew. Files from this program are best sent full-size with all images created from any other program (Illustrator, Photoshop, etc.) and fonts included as separate files. You can do this by selecting "File" and then "Collect for Output."

Photoshop CC or Earlier (Raster)

Since Photoshop creates raster images, it is best for photos. You should only use Photoshop for items that can accept photo transfers for printing or will be printed with HiRes AccuColor or full color Process (also called digital printing, CMYK printing, and full color printing). Products often printed with four color processing include mouse pads, magnets, and custom can koozies.

In order for your raster artwork to work, it is best to send it with an .EPS, .PSD, or .TIF extension, 100% or larger than your imprint size, and at a resolution of at least 600 dpi. Images at any lower resolution will create pixelated, jagged edges!

If there are any halftones in your image, we will not accept .BMP files. We will accept .JPEG, .JPG, and .GIF files. Be warned, however, that those file types will require massive cleanup 98% of the time, which will cost you time and money!

Accepted, but not recommended

Low-Resolution Image Files like .JPEG and .GIF

Some of the files for saving artwork end up looking blurry and unclear when they're printed on promotional products. These include low-resolution image file formats, like .JPEG and .GIF, as well as file formats not made for art programs, like .DOC and .PPT files. Art submitted in any of these file formats might have to be redrawn or recreated. While we will accept these files, it may affect the processing time of your order. Please also note that depending on the size and quality of the image, we may or may not be able to use images or logos saved from a website. We're here to make sure your artwork is printed at the best possible quality and that you receive top-notch promotional products every time!

Extensions from Office Software

.TXT, .PPT, and .DOC: These files are extensions from office software and cannot be opened in our graphics program. Most of these cases will require art re-creation.

Re-creating your art from these files may add to your order's processing time, but the good news is that the Quality Logo Products Art Team can do this for you at no extra charge!

File formats that are not acceptable

AutoCAD and PageMaker. Files from these programs are incompatible with most of the software we use internally.

bubbles stop sign

How do I send my artwork?

Let's get started!

Got your artwork all sorted out and in the correct file format? When you're ready to submit your artwork, it's best to send your artwork via email. If your file exceeds 15 MB, please contact customer service at (866) 312-5646 and ask for help logging into our FTP so you can transfer your artwork files faster and easier. Please note: in addition to the formats listed above, we also accept IBM zipped (without the self-extracting program) and Mac stuffed files.

Quality Logo Products customer service representatives are available at (866) 312-5646 during business hours to help you with all your vector artwork needs or questions.

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Bubbles teaching

There's a lot to learn about vector art, for sure! The basic idea, though, is that vector files, like the files you can create in Adobe Illustrator, are easy to resize for all your promo product needs without losing any of the art's clarity. If you have any further questions about how to create vector art, the knowledgeable art geniuses at Quality Logo Products are always available to help!