When do you need to use vector?

  • Hi Guys!

    I have a job to Illustrate a poem for a school concert. I was just rehashing the details and it seems that the director wants the drawings to be projected along with being printed. He didn’t specifically ask for them to be in vector, but I know that when people work that big that is generally how it is done. I have no experience with vectoring images. I usually work in Procreate and color correct in photoshop. Also my illustrations tend to be more highly textured than most vector images I have seen. I don’t think the quality has to be out of this world for this project- but I also don’t want it to be a big pixelly blob from the audience. Figuring out how to vector all of my drawings will take a crazy amount of time- that I am not sure I have, but I want to do the very best job I can!

    Does anyone have any experience with anything like this? I would really appreciate insights.

    Anna Aronson

  • I usually do vector files when the art is going to be printed in multiple sizes. It is a bit easier then to open the file and adjust.
    If you are only printing one big piece it can be done on photoshop without a problem, the file size might be huge but you can make sure the printer can handle those big files.

    Those are my two cents, good luck!

  • @Annaaronson I have used vector images quite a bit. I started with Inkscape years ago.

    I like them exactly for the reasons you have described. You can enlarge without issue, sizing is not a problem, file size can work in your favor. You can also get smoother lines (think comics & manga).

    A couple of downsides... it is difficult to get a 'painterly' feel. If you are truly painting pictures you will struggle to convert those to vectors and not get HUGE files. If on the other hand, you have a lot of line work with flat colors those types of images should be rendered in vectors.

    If you need to be able to print a 'painted' image very large my recommendation would be to create a very high-resolution rastered file (i.e. photoshop, Procreate, jpg).

  • @theprairiefox If you do it in Photoshop, save it as a .TIF file. Also save it at a high resolution, 300 dpi. You can Google sizing info to make sure you're setting the resolution high enough. Vector files are used for flat art, such as logos, and artwork with sharp edges. I hope that helps!

  • @deborah-Haagenson vector art definitely works better for flat art! (That was what I was trying to say... in lots of words.)

    I would agree that you want to plan for at least 300dpi of the biggest print size you are planning. For screens, the resolution does not need to be as high.

  • @Annaaronson Using vector files really depends on what the purpose will be for. Generally, if you're creating something very large then vector is a good way to go because you can make them huge and easy to scale without worrying about the quality declining. However, generally the larger an image is, the further away the viewer will be and thus the audience may not even notice the decline in file quality. It's really up to the artist or creative director in most cases. Just make sure that if you are not going with vector to ensure that your resolution is very high (300). Often large-format printers won't go that high, but it's much safer to have a higher resolution to start with for easier adjusting later on.

  • Pro

    @Annaaronson I work in vector a lot, but my method of choice is Photoshop vectors - using the pen tool - as I find it easier than other vector programs such as Illustrator. However, and someone correct me if I'm wrong but I'm fairly certain projection doesn't actually require vector. It's not like large size printing in that sense, it works differently. I've had my work projected several times, and each time only used a flattened 300 dpi size file, and it worked fine. I guess it depends what kind of projection and what size. At any rate, it's worth looking into. Talk to your director and ask for the technical specifications for the projector. Specifically ask what size and file format is best to use with it, and if vector is necessary. My guess is he didn't ask for it specifically because it isn't. If the director doesn't know, it's worth doing a test using an illustration you already have, and see how that looks. You don't want to spend countless hours learning vector only to realize it wasn't needed.

  • I have had very good results from taking pixel files into Illustrator and using auto trace to convert the image into vectors. Much easier than creating from the pen tool. Depending on the settings you can choose, you can get virtually exact results of your pixel art into a much smaller vector file. Once you've converted the pixel file, you can also use Simply, to eliminate excess points. However, it will take some learning time about the settings in Auto Trace, to get the results you want.

  • Thank you guys so much. This was incredibly helpful! I have lots of good clarifying questions to ask now.
    I really appreciate the time you all took To answer!

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