Felice Katz, Graphic Designer at Porter Consulting

blimp2I get all sorts of requests to create printed materials that feature detailed artwork. Sometimes the finished art is needed in a large format: 10 foot wide stencils of an old airplane, or maybe trade show banners that need to be seen across a huge exhibit hall. Or on a smaller scale, there’s the 8 ½ x 11 corporate datasheet with lots of charts.

The stencil client says, “Here’s something I grabbed off the internet for that plane art you’re doing. Use this.” The banner client drags a logo from his website to his desktop, emails it to me and asks “Is this good enough quality?” And the datasheet client supplies a photo of a chart someone snapped on an old iPhone. It’s fuzzy.

The question I pose when clients ask if the source art is okay is “Say, do you have this (logo, chart, artwork) in VECTOR ART?” Often, they reply “Vector art? What’s that?” One client actually asked, “Is that some kind of Star Trek thing?” Several have opined, “Yeah Vector Art. Maybe 10 years ago we had some designer do our logo in Vector, but we lost the file. He’s probably out of business by now.”

So what is Vector Art, and why is it needed? It’s artwork drawn on the computer screen with a mouse or WACOM tablet via Adobe Illustrator. On the back end, it is made up of algebraic computations that places x and y points along the x, y axis (remember the parabola?), then the program draws SMOOTH lines between the exact points on the screen. In fact, in Algebra II, my final project was to draw a familiar object and write out the x and y points that made up that art. (I drew the 70s CBS eyeball, an easy one.) The art is so infinitely sharp that you can enlarge. In fact, many years later, I vividly remember one of my teachers at Clark University pontificating saying, “VECTOR ART CAN BE BLOWN UP AS BIG AS THE GOODYEAR BLIMP!”

The opposite of Vector is RASTER ART. It’s made up of lots of dots or pixels. So your logo, if blown up large, will look fuzzy with jagged pixels, not smooth lines like the Vector style.

Before you turn over any old graphics for a professional design piece, make sure logos are VECTOR, charts are VECTOR, and clip art is VECTOR. A photo? It can be RASTER, but please make it large and 300 dpi (however, that’s a story for another day.)

datasheetIf you ever need Vector art made for a tradeshow banner, an infographic, a logo to appear on a tee shirt, or if you want to turn Power Point graphics into high resolution finished artwork, please let us know. At Porter Consulting we specialize in high quality, high resolution marketing communications pieces.

Here’s a datasheet we finished recently for one of our corporate clients who needed sharp illustrations and captions for their datasheets.

Felice Katz is an experienced graphic designer who has done many creative projects for Porter Consulting. She has a background in print & web media design, graphics production, advertising and marketing. To read more, check out Porter Consulting’s blog site at www.porterconsulting.net.

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