What is the difference between raster and vector art?

July 20, 2016

The method used to create a graphic makes a big difference in the graphic's appearance and in its appropriateness for certain uses. The two most common ways to create graphics with a computer are raster and vector. This page explains them and offers some guidelines on their use.

Raster, or bitmapped, graphics produce images as grids of individually defined pixels while vector graphics produce images using mathematically generated points, lines, and shapes.

So, how do you decide which method is appropriate for your graphics project? Here are some thoughts:


Raster is the way to go for photographic images, and it is the only artwork format supported by our online CabCreator application. The dominant TIFF, GIF and JPEG formats, and the increasingly popular PNG format, are raster formats. Raster is the best mode for working with photographs and other continuous tone images with complex and subtle shading.

That said, increasing the size of raster graphics can be problematic, and it often yields less than desirable results. Because raster images are based on grids of pre-defined pixels, increasing the size forces the computer to interpolate or "guess" at at adjoining pixels when enlarging the image. This process results in distortion and focus problems. These problems compound exponentially as the size increases from the original image.

If you want to use a raster-based image for your GrilleGraphics.com custom bass grille graphic, it is best to create the file at full-resolution at full-size, or 2x resolution at half size. In other words, the ideal size for an image to be used on a 22" head would be 300 dpi at a full 22" (6600 x 6600 pixels), or 600 dpi at 11" (also 6600 x 6600 pixels).

While it's generally not advisable for our clients to enlarge images on their own, we do have the skills and tools to do some of the best enlargement possible on images much smaller than you would ever think possible to use on a drumhead.  While we can do some amazing things with enlargements, the best results for your head will always come from full-size original artwork.


The clean lines and smooth curves of vector graphics make them an obvious choice for logos, drawings, and other artwork that will appear in print. Also, the use of mathematical equations enables vector graphics to be scaled and manipulated infinitely without distortion.

Where possible, vector images are the preferred image format for us to work with. Since they are easily resizable, vector images will yield the best, most consistent results for your GrilleGraphics.com custom bass grille graphic, but they are not generally appropriate for photographic or continuous tone images.

Vector images are also incompatible with our online CabCreator application.  As such, if you want to use a vector image on your custom bass drumhead, you'll need to use our "Leave it to us" order option.

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