Vectors Explained in Plain English

In the space of branded merchandise, we frequently get asked what is vector artwork, how to tell if artwork is vectorised, and why it is required for print?

Here’s a crash course.

Vector is the format in which artwork is required to ensure the image can be edited, and prints optimally at any size. It is most commonly found in PDF format.

The simplest way to check if your logo or other artwork is vectorised, is by opening the file, and enlarging it by 300-400%. If the edges of the design remain sharp and crisp, it is vector, and can be used for print*. If pixelates, it isn’t vector, limiting print application.

*Occasionally, artwork may appear vectorised to the untrained eye, but there are other technical issues in the creation of the artwork that render it unsuitable for print.

How to get vectorised artwork? Sometimes your printer is able to convert the artwork, especially if it is a simple design. In our experience it’s best to get it from your agency, or graphic designer who has correct software, and is capable of preparing artwork for print. This reduces the risk of things going wrong in print – like fonts defaulting, or incorrect layering of elements.

Saving a JPG in PDF format is not adequate. Although some print methods do not require vector artwork. eg digital print of short runs of small stickers, gift tags etc.

If you have any questions on this, or other technical aspects of branding, feel free to comment below, or connect via our chat box, which is always manned.

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