Most of the products that we offer require Vector Artwork to be able to include your logo or custom graphic. But a lot of people have never heard the term and don’t know what it means. A common misconception is that JPEG or PDF files can be Vector files, but we’ll break it down so you can tell the difference.
JPEG vs. Vector
Most cameras save photos as JPEGs, but if you open a JPEG image and zoom in, you will see tiny squares of color called “pixels”
If you make the image bigger, the pixels get bigger too, until they are clearly visible to the naked eye. Images where the pixels are individually visible are referred to as “pixelated”.
Basic shapes and colors use these pixels, placed in a grid, in thousands of different colors. The result when you zoom out is the complete image that you see.
To make curves in your image, pixels on a grid create a jagged look.
There is no grid of colored squares like in JPEGs. Instead, the online of shapes making up the image are mathematically plotted by the computer program. Then the program has been told what color (or colors)to fill that outline with.
The image is very smooth and high-quality.
To make curves in your image, vector artwork isn’t restricted to a grid, so the curves are genuine and smooth.
Why Do We Require Vector Art?
The key here is the type of process being used to create the image.Laser Engraving, Hot Stamping, and Ribbon Imprinting share a single fact the process is 100% there, or not there at all.
With Laser Engraving, for example, the laser burns the plastic or metal, removing the top layer in that spot to reveal a different colored layer beneath. The laser has either burned, or it hasn’t there’s no half-burned areas.
Now remember how those JPEGs are made up of squares of color? A curve on a black shape might appear smoother to our eyes by having some of the pixels towards the edges be shades of gray rather than full black. But the laser can’t do that. So those gray squares will be burnt just the same as the black, red, blue, and all the other squares. And you end up with something that probably doesn’t look much like your logo.
But vector art, well, it can tell the laser exactly where the edges of your shape are so that the laser knows just how to get your image onto your product, filling in the outlines as it goes.
The same is true for Hot-Stamping and Ribbon Imprinting, which both use metal dies, either the color foil is stamped on in a spot, or it’s not.
How Do You Create Vector Art?
Two of the most popular programs are Adobe Illustrator and CorelDraw. Vector art files will most commonly end in either a .eps or .ai although there are some exceptions.
We do have a few options for those customers who do not have vector artwork files of their graphics. And we also can take most images and create vector artwork for them, for a small fee. (And you get to keep the file for future use!)
About the Author:
Melanie Bunch has been a graphic artist for over 13 years and is on the Design Team at Name Tag, Inc.. In her spare time she enjoys scrap-booking, Taekwondo, and arts and crafts. Be sure to watch for more of her articles from a designer’s perspective!