There are two major types of graphic software or graphics programs – pixel-based image editors and path-based image editors. This is based on the kind of images that can be created, edited, or managed by these graphic software. Images can either be made of pixels or of a series of commands that decide how the image will be drawn.
Pixel based images, also known as raster images, are made up of a series of small dots or pixels. These images are easier to edit as they can use a number of different color pixels. The effect of gradients is smoother in these images as you can arrange the pixels and slowly increase or change the color or shade of adjacent pixels. Upon enlarging these images or zooming in, you can clearly see the pixels, reducing the overall image quality as it gets blurred.
The dimensions of these images are measured in pixels. As we said earlier, raster images lose quality when enlarged, so it is important that the files are provided with the printing dimensions and the pixel resolution (pixels per inch or ppi) in mind.
These types of graphic images and editors are used in case of photographic elements that have color gradation or color blends.
A path-based image, also known as vector image, consists of points, lines, and curves that are based on mathematical equations instead of pixels. This means no matter how much you zoom in on them, or enlarge them, they remain smooth and the picture quality is not compromised.
The quality of the image does not get compromised whether you are printing it on a pen or a massive billboard. While raster images blend well to give the painting effect, vector images are more crisp giving a tile like appearance.
For a design that needs the image to look like a drawing or an illustration, a vector image is a better idea. If you are working on your brand logo, you must have a vector version, to make sure that the image is scalable.