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Submitted on
February 8, 2004


28,343 (6 today)
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What Is Vector Art?

Vector Art is a technique, not a style.

Perhaps a better term would be "vector-based art," meaning art created in a vector-based program. Vector art consists of creating paths and points in a program such as Illustrator or Freehand. The program keeps track of the relationships between these points and paths.  Vectors are any scaleable objects that keeps their proportions and quality when sized up or down. They're defined as solid objects, and can be moved around in full, or grouped together with other objects. Vectors can be defined by mathematical and numeric data.  So vector art is anything that's created in Illustrator, Freehand, Corel Draw, Flash or other "vector" illustration programs.

(Vector programs: Illustrator, Freehand, Corel Draw, Flash, etc.)

The other side of the coin is raster art. Raster art consists of pixel information, where every pixel is assigned a RGB or CMYK value. This can create smoother and more detailed images for photos and paintings, but if the image is scaled, the program has to create new information resulting in that distorted look.

(Raster programs: Photoshop, Painter, Fireworks, MS Paint, Gimp, etc.)

What is Not Vector Art?

Just because something is "cell shaded" or "flat colored" does not make it a Vector. The use of filters (cutout, etc.) creates a raster-based image and thus is disqualified from ever being considered a vector image. Only a vector program such as the ones mentioned above can create a vector image.

A vector takes time to create. The artist makes decisions on how much or how little detail to include. The artist makes decisions on colors to use. These are the same decisions one makes before sitting down with conte crayons, pastels or oil paint.

I understand that these days there is some program overlap. Photoshop has some vector tools and Illustrator has some raster tools, but if you use the lasso and the paint bucket, you are not creating vector-based artwork. If you run a filter you are not creating vector-based artwork.

What Does Vector Art Look Like?

Long story short: Vector is not a "style" like Anime, but a "medium" like charcoal. Asking what vector-art looks like is like asking what an oil painting looks like. It could look like Rembrandt, Picasso, or a fifth grader's fingerpainting.

Vector doesn't automatically mean flat shaded, just like "painting" doesn't mean high detail. Vector-based programs include tools for use with gradients and meshes, and thusly can be used to create high detail illustrations.

Vector Art Examples

BS FULL TORQUE by turn2002NeonJapan by drownsoda:thumb5090085:

BS Full Torque by turn2002 | Neon Japan by drownsoda | Xenomorph by sirspy

I would like to thank esodesign for providing the majority of this clarification/submission guide.</b>
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CreamyShundala Featured By Owner Aug 19, 2014  Student Digital Artist
Inkscape creates Vector.
Kitsune0Jester Featured By Owner Jun 23, 2014  Student Artist
Thank you. That clears things up.
CosmosKnights Featured By Owner Jun 3, 2014  Student Digital Artist
So if photoshop is used it technically is not vector based art but raster art ? o.o
inside-our-mind Featured By Owner Nov 9, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thank you so much for the easy-to-understand explaination.
ClearRoseCreations Featured By Owner Oct 16, 2013  Professional Digital Artist
Thank you. This was very helpful, as I had no idea what vector art was. :)
rdeder Featured By Owner Aug 17, 2013  Professional Digital Artist
If it's not Vector and it's not Raster - what is it? - , check out the abstracts
Pwney Featured By Owner May 23, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
read our comments below to go on an adventure lol
Samantha-Deathwish Featured By Owner Jul 26, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Pwney Featured By Owner Nov 1, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
isnt vectoring pretty much tracing except that you dont even freehand trace over it because you have a program that will create the curve/line for you with a "point a to point b" method?
BathedInSin Featured By Owner Sep 17, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Just to add my 2 cents, (Please god dont start a flame war with me, please) I love how you said people who vector do have talent but in his first response, the dude said there's no talent in it then proceeded to yell at you that hes so talented LOL  and most of the things he accused you of was him doing that himself.... Just saying. XD

Also, dont let him tell you your work is crap because its ponies or that you're less than he is. That kind of thing is really rude and uncalled for and not true in the least. I do not profess to be the world's greatest artist (Because I am not) but i'm better than some and worse than others. We all are and doing our own thing that makes us and our fans/friends happy is all that matters.... and not being a dick. lol
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