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Vector Graphics Guide for Beginning Designers

written by: Gwen Hagaman•edited by: Wendy Finn•updated: 9/22/2011

Ever find the alphabet soup of file formats confusing? Which are vector? Which are raster? And when should each be used? This beginner's guide to vector graphics is a comprehensive resource where you'll find solid facts and helpful tips on making and using vector images.

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    These articles give the roll out on vector graphics from what they are to how to make them. You will ensure top quality imagery in all of your desktop design projects by fastracking your skills with information from these Bright Hub articles -- the file format "soup" will become a clear roadmap to your creative success in no time.

    We'll start by helping you understand the differences between raster and vector file formats so you can enjoy top quality graphics in both print and online projects. Then we'll look at suitable software to use -- choosing the right file format is important, but so is choosing the right software tools. Evaluations of vector creation and modification software will help you decide which applications are the best choices for you.

    Along the way we'll give you helpful tips to streamline your learning curve on the way to building custom graphics. You'll learn key steps on how to work with multiple software applications and convert photographs to illustrated vector artwork.

    And we share some great resources for free clip art images, decorative borders and dingbat type fonts. You will want to visit this guide over and over again.

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    Definitions and Uses of Vector and Raster Images

    Learning to identify different types of vector and raster file formats is the first step. Here we show you up-close image quality comparisons between smooth vector lines and bitmapped raster edges, and avoid troublesome misuse of images by learning which formats work best for photographs, logos and other graphics.

    Using Vector Images in Web Design

    Do you have a vector logo file that is not supported by your web development software? Learn how to avoid this common situation by correctly sizing and converting the vector image to raster for high quality online results. You'll also find tips on saving original vector images for future editing.

    How to Use Adobe Illustrator

    Adobe Illustrator isn't to be feared, as we show you in this article. Use simple tutorials to master basic drawing skills and explore the features of the software. Learn to use Illustrator tools to create and edit custom vector images. Then learn how to save your images in a variety of file formats directly from Illustrator. Vectors made easy!

    Compare Inkscape Features

    Or, why not consider a free open source alternative software tool. Here, we compare Inkscape to Illustrator on features, price, ease of use and support, so you can decide which of the software tools will serve your needs best in regards to vectors.

    Using CorelDRAW

    Perhaps CorelDRAW is more your speed? Learn the capabilities, features and options of CorelDRAW software in this tutorial. Get the information you need to decide if CorelDRAW is the vector image creation and editing tool that fits your needs.

    Make Vector Graphics with InsightPoint

    Want to make vector images without mastering a complex software package? Windows and Linux users can get right to work with InsightPoint freeware. With a short learning curve you'll know all about InsightPoint's features in regard to vector graphics.

    Consider Using Scribus

    Scribus is proof that DTP software doesn't have to cost a fortune -- in fact it's free! It offers professional quality in an open source application, and this article will help you to discover the powerful features package and performance of Scribus, free of charge. Consider using this easy-to-learn, easy-to-use desktop publishing application.

    Use Vector Features of Photoshop

    For more creative power Photoshop is hard to beat. We take a look at how to create and use vector paths and masks in Photoshop to modify its raster images. Get the shortcut tips that let you creatively mix vector and raster images for special effects.

    Transfer Images Between Illustrator and Photoshop

    If you have Illustrator and Photoshop, transferring images between the two can sometimes be tricky. This article walks you through creating and exporting paths and images from Photoshop to Illustrator seamlessly. Learn to use the features of each software package to develop and enhance custom imagery. There are loads of great tips and shortcuts for transferring artwork for modification in Illustrator in this walkthrough.

    Convert Raster to Vector

    Want to change a photograph to a drawing? Follow these step-by-step instructions to learn how to convert raster images to vector graphics through a digital tracing process. Helpful tips keep the process simple to follow.

    Explore Clip Art Libraries

    If you are looking for ready-to-use vector images, check these resources for online clip art libraries that offer free use of graphics. You'll be amazed at the number and variety of images available to use without licensing or fees. Select images that are ready to go and place them in your document. Talk about vectors made easy!

    Find Clip Art for Microsoft Applications

    Make things easy on yourself and learn how to access Microsoft clip art images from both inside Microsoft applications and from their online sites. We'll walk you through the process with easy instructions for finding and placing vector graphics in common software such as Word, PowerPoint and Excel.

    Start With Dingbats and Convert to Vectors

    Dingbats are an often overlooked resource for the desktop publisher, but they are a great one to make use of. They give you a starting place for your projects, and can actually be converted to scalable vectors. Find out how you do it, and where to find some dingbats in this guide that will send you anything but batty!