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Vector and Pixel Graphics: Introduction

You can express your design ideas in two fundamentally different ways at Spreadshirt: Either as a pixel or a vector graphic. Keep reading to find out when to use which file, and how to realise your ideas in the best way possible.

To the point: Pixel graphics

Today, pixel graphics visualise most of what you see on smartphones, digi cams or computers. Almost every digital photo is a pixel graphics file. The image information of the photo is saved by means of individual colour points (pixels). The smaller and more detailed the individual pixels, the sharper the photo. But if the individual pixels are too large (meaning the resolution is too low), the photo appears pixelated.

If the resolution is too low, the pixels will be clearly visible.

This is why the file size of high-resolution photos is quite large, because they’re made up of millions of individual pixels. The biggest advantage of pixel graphics is that they can be edited quickly, easily and without much previous knowledge with any smartphone, tablet or computer. Popular software to create pixel graphics include Adobe Photoshop (commercial) or Gimp (open source).

Becoming a Pixel Nerd

Well suited for pixel graphics are photos or designs with a high degree of detail, as well as drawings, illustrations and designs with colour gradients.
Print methods: Digital printing, laser transfer, thermal sublimation
Design/structure: Each graphics file consists of individual pixels.
Save/file size: Each pixel has its individual colour information. An example: In a red circle with 1,000 pixels, the position and its colour values of each individual pixel are saved.
Resolution The resolution of a design is usually provided in dpi (dots per inch). 200 dpi means that there are 200 pixels per inch (= 2.54 cm).
Loss of quality: The lower the resolution of a design (the fewer pixels per inch), the more easily the individual pixels cen be detected. An enlargement of the design is only possible with a loss of quality. When creating high-resolution images from smaller images, a lack of quality will show when enlarged.

Optimise your pixel graphics now. In this FAQ we’ll show you how to do it.

A line says more than a thousand pixels: Vector Graphics

While pixel graphics are everywhere, vector graphics occupy a rather small but high-quality niche. Vector graphics don’t replicate the design with pixels, but with geometric shapes that are rendered as mathematical formulae. This is how vector graphics can be scaled without any loss of quality while remaining razor sharp. The image information is rendered for each size you replicate.

Since vector graphics only contain geometric shapes, they are very small when compared to pixel graphics. But their processing is much more demanding and requires special graphics programs. The most popular software is Adobe Illustrator (commercial) and Inkscape (open source). The examples illustrate what benefits vector graphics hold for your designs.

Becoming a Vector Nerd

Well suited for vector graphics are less complex designs and geometric shapes such as fonts, logos or comic style graphics with 3 colours max.
Print methods: Flex and flock printing
Design/structure: The image contents consist of geometric shapes that are rendered mathematically.
Save/file size: Only stores the information necessary to render the image mathematically. The image of the red circle shows that only the position of its centre, its radius and the fill colour is defined and stored.
Scaling Vector graphics don’t just get enlarged, but scaled to the desired size. The image content is recalculated mathematically.
Loss of quality: won’t happen. Vector graphics can, theoretically, be infinitely scaled without any loss of quality.

Optimise your pixel graphics now. In this FAQ we’ll show you how to do it.

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