Bitmaps and Vectors - the Difference
There are two quite different techniques for creating, storing and processing computer images: bitmap graphics and vector graphics.
This page just defines the two types as simply as possible. You will find links to more detailed descriptions at the bottom.
The image above consists of just 12 pixels so in reality would appear as no more than a small grey dot. The gaps you see between the pixels do not really exist – they are just shown for clarity.
Imagine each pixel to be like a tiny square light bulb. Each pixel can be any colour you want and any brightness.
You cannot light up part of a pixel.
Real images are of course a lot more complex and consist of many more pixels.
The example below is still rather blocky and crude, but you can begin to see how a picture can be made up from pixel building blocks:
Squint at the image, or step back from your monitor and you will see it is a close up image of an eye. In real bitmap images, the pixels are tiny dots so the illusion of a smooth and realistic image is created:
Programs like Flash draw using vectors. A very simple vector drawing might look like this:
In a vector drawing, you create control points. The lines in a vector drawing are created by the software and join up the control points that the user has drawn. There are 4 control points in the drawing above (3 are little white squares, the last one is dark to indicate that it is being worked on). There is far more to be explained about vector graphics, but hopefully the illustration above will be enough for you to see immediately how vector graphics differ from bitmap graphics.
That concludes our brief look at the difference between bitmap
and vector graphics.
Vectors versus Pixels...Which Are Best?
(As Harry Hill would say: "There's only one way to find out......FIGHT!!!")
Advantages of bitmaps
Advantages of vectors
and drawing programs continue to evolve; one common feature is that
both type of program incorporate more and more elements of the other
type; painting programs have more drawing features in them and drawing
programs have more painting features.
outputting to the Web and for printwork, much software, (Flash etc.)
is vector based. For TV and film, regardless of how the artwork
was originated, the final output format will always be a bitmap