6 key terms every graphic designer should know

Whether you’re a newbie, a student or just in need of a refresher, read this guide.

Graphic design, like any profession, is littered with jargon and phrases you may not be familiar with. Here are just some of the key terms you should know, and a brief explanation in words you can understand – plus where to go to learn more.

01. Raster images and vector images

Vector-based images (like this one) are made of points; raster images are made of pixels

Raster images (sometimes referred to as bitmap images) are made up of thousands of pixels that determine colour and form. Photos are raster images. Photoshop is the most common raster editor, enabling you to manipulate the colour and other properties of the pixels. 

Because raster images are made up of a finite amount of pixels, resizing can be tricky. If you give a raster image larger dimensions in Photoshop, the software has to make up data in order to add the size. This results in a loss of quality.

Vector images

Vector-based images (such as those created in Adobe Illustrator) are made up of points, each of which has a defined X and Y coordinate. These points join paths to form shapes, and inside these shapes you can add colour fills. Because everything you generate is based around this, vectors can be blown up to any size without any loss of quality.

In recent times, Illustrator has progressed so much that vector graphics have become incredibly complex. You can now add gradients, complex shapes and more to create highly detailed, scalable vector images. Because vectors can be resized, they are often used for  logos and other graphics that need to be used across many different outputs (from leaflet to billboard, for instance). 

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