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How do I get/save as vector?


starchild's Avatar
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09-Aug-2005, 05:05 PM #1
How do I get/save as vector?
I have PS 7 and doing tutorials, also looking for info in their online HELP.

I'm getting a lot of info about the difference in rastor/Bitmp and Vector. That Vector should be used for logos because it will enlarge bigger and stay clear, etc.

How do I get an image to be vector?

I tried SEARCH here and found some close answers but no question/answers that are clear and direct.

In one of the HELP files about it, it shows a photo of a bicycle, and how parts of it can be enlarged and stay clear, if it's a vector, but not raster (bitmp, and I suppose jpg, etc)

If I draw something outright on a new canvas, and save it, I still get the same options (default being photoshop) gif, jpg, bitmp, etc. Nothing I see says anything about "vector" as a format to save it.

Apparently from what I've seen (which is mainly the difference in the two and which is better for what use) one can save a drawing OR photo as vector. Or maybe set it up (somehow) at the start for this?

I'm just getting into learning about layers, paths, etc. Maybe it's something to do with that? Setting it up a certain way to be vector? What file extension will it be (as vector)?

Trying to explain what I mean, to make it clear. As I said all I can find are lessons that tell what the difference is, and why one is better than another.

How do I set up and/or save (have) it in vector mode?

Can it be converted with PS7? (I also have PSP7, but currently focusing on PS.

Probably another one of those "right in front of me" simple answers.


NightLord's Avatar
NightLord NightLord is offline
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10-Aug-2005, 03:05 PM #2
Hey Carrie,

A vector image is an image that is drawn by your computer. The only thing that is stored in the file is the mathematical data needed to draw the lines in the image and fill spaces in a certain color and so on. Many shapes may form an image.

In photoshop typical vector data is a type layer (a text layer, use the type tool for it), a shape layer (basically a color with a vector mask on it, use the shape tool with the option "shape layer" turned on and see what it does), paths are vector data as well and there may be some more that I can't think of right now...
Using them requires some experience, play around and see what it does.

Bottom line: vectors are defined by a direction and a magnitude and therefore your computer can calculate exactly what lines are described and what the image is going to look like when you scale it up or down.
A small file size and scalability are the advantages. However, many programs use their own kind of code to describe all this and thus there are quite some different standards now. Like DWG files from AutoCAD, EPS files and so on.
Photoshop is not the first choice of programs to do this with. CorelDraw is one of the standards specifically for that purpose.

A bitmap is a raster of pixels where every pixel has a certain value for its color, so if your image is let's say 100x100 pixels, your file has to store 10,000 pixel-values. Then and only then your computer knows what to do. Quite straightforward and this type of image has some well known standards like BMP and TIFF. JPG is a compressed raster file. By means of algorithms patterns in colors are calculated thus reducing the file size.

Raster files are the type of file you will be working with most when using photoshop. Almost all filters and manipulation requires rasterized data.
However in a PSD file (photoshop's standard) vector and raster data can exist in one file: you may have rasterized layers and vector layers (like e.g. text)

You can't make a vector file out of a bitmap because mathematical data is required to describe the shapes. Once "rasterized" there is no way back to vector.
Creating an nice image as a vector file gets difficult quickly with the standard tools in photoshop because you need to define every single shape. I don't have much experience in this but if there's no absolute need for it I don't use vector shapes, but that's just me I guess

I hope this cleared things up for you, if not feel free to ask.


starchild's Avatar
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Join Date: Sep 2002
10-Aug-2005, 09:10 PM #3
Yes, that explains it clearly, thanks

I've been doing PS tutorials that usually say to save them in PS format, because they can be then worked on again (better)

I'm also starting to think I should be saving pictures/art as bitmaps, and not always JPG (which I've done by habit) because they lose quality in JPG.

There sure is a lot to learn.

Corel Draw... I've heard about. I think it's very big, and something to look into when I get a bigger, better computer (which I'm hoping will be in the next few weeks)

Using an older one with WIN 98 SE and not a lot of memory is getting kind of limiting with what I've been learning.

I just got the idea that using Vector was better because it can be enlarged without losing quality.

I'm not sure what I'll be doing that has to be enlarged all that much, but I figured it would be good to know about anyway.

Someone recommended Scan2Cad, a program that changes raster to vector?

I'm going to print out what you wrote here and use that for now.

~ Carrie
NightLord's Avatar
NightLord NightLord is offline
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11-Aug-2005, 04:09 AM #4
Hey Carrie,

Programs that try to make a vector file out of a rasterized picture are usually not great and only work with line drawings like technical schemes and stuff, hence the name Scan2CAD for that program you were talking about.
Don't expect too much from it when you have pictures or other complex images... it won't work and/or produce a vectorized image that is WAY to heavy to use.

The PSD format is the way to go when you want to save ALL the work you've been doing (all layers and stuff). By saving the file as a bitmap you loose the layers but the quality of the image as it is at that moment stays the same, you won't loose a single pixel. So a BMP or TIFF (the one I prefer actually) is a good way of storing files that you're done with and that won't be needing anything more than printing or will just be hanging around on your drive.
JPG has the "quality"-option, saving a JPG in highest quality will not give you much loss... actually it's hard if not impossible to see a difference with a BMP. I use JPG in highest quality a lot.
Lower qualities will give you loss, so that may not be the way you want to save your stuff. However when emailing or uploading your work it may be an option to consider.

The thing with enlarging is that a rasterized image will enlarge up until about 120% without much (visible) problems, depending on the nature of the picture (photo, technical scheme and so on). Check out the enlarge-options in photoshop to get an idea.
I always use a resolution of at least 3000px width just to make sure you're working with enough material to print properly on larger sizes, thus avoiding most of the enlargement problems you may have. Starting with enough pixels saves you a lot of trouble.
It requires quite some resources from your computer so maybe that would be for later. For photos it also means of course that you need a 6 or 7 megapixel cam, or a good scanner for printed photos.


starchild's Avatar
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11-Aug-2005, 07:57 AM #5

I will add this to my tutorial file.

I probably would never need a vector image (enlarged into a billborad, or something) anyway.

Just came across this recently in tutorials and it sounded like something good.

I've only used JPG out of habit, just because it's what started using (also GIF).

Maybe those two would be good for saving (or changing to) for putting pictures on the interent?

Also, lower JPG (I usually save at medium, again out of habit) wouldn't give a picture the best quality if someone copied it from a website.

~ Carrie
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