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Differences between vector and bitmap illustrations

The flexographic designer has options when developing a digital file and must know how to understand what a Vector and a Bitmap represent, since on the monitor screen they appear identical, but if we do a more detailed inspection, we will notice that there are important differences.

• Vector:

Regarding the format: They are created using vector design programs, such as Adobe Illustrator or Freehand, which are based on PostScrpit code. They are stored as vector files, which contain mathematical formulas to describe lines, curves and shapes, easily editable by clicking on the points and moving them, creating other contours.

Regarding scalability: They are completely scalable, they can be reduced or expanded without loss of quality. This is essential in flexographic design, since label and packaging designs can vary in size, depending on the presentation of the product.

As for sharp lines: They are ideal for elements with sharp edges and defined lines, ensuring resolution in text designs and logos.

• Bitmap:

Regarding the format: They are created using image editing programs such as Adobe Photoshop. These images are made up of individual pixels and are stored as bitmaps.

Regarding scalability: They have a fixed resolution and cannot be scaled without loss of quality. This can be problematic if you need to print a design in different sizes.

Regarding their texture: They are ideal for representing soft gradients, shadows and textures, which can be useful in certain flexographic design elements.

Regarding resolution: As long as it remains at the size it was created, there will be no problems, but if it is enlarged, pixels appear and cause distortion, low resolution and loss of image quality.

In Flexography the use of vector is more frequent, since its files can be scalable without sacrificing the quality of the design, while bitmap images are useful for photographs and more complex visual effects.

The choice will depend on the specific needs of the project and the elements you are using. In general, it’s not a question of which is “better,” but rather which is most appropriate for each situation.

The key is for the designer to understand the strengths and limitations of each format and use them effectively according to the needs of each project.