When it comes to printing artwork on promotional products, you need to take the quality of your graphic file into consideration. You want a clear print on your items so your audience can read your marketing message, information, etc. For your promotional items to print clearly, make sure your logo is made with vector art.
What is Vector art?
Vector art gives your logo or artwork the ability to be resized without losing resolution or becoming pixelated. Typically, vector graphics are created with a graphic design program, like Adobe Illustrator.
The program allows the designer to create an image with mathematical equations (shapes, angles, points, lines) and color values. In this form, the artwork can be resized – larger or smaller – without losing its quality (right). The most common file extensions for vector art are .ai, .cdr, .eps.
What is Raster art?
The opposite of vector art is raster art. This is the graphic you are most likely to be familiar with: .jpg, .jpeg, .png, etc. Raster art is made of pixels and different color shades.
Think of the old school video games where every graphic was made up of tiny square blocks. When you resize a raster based graphic, the resolution does change and will become pixelated and blurry (left) when scaled.
Why do I need Vector art?
When an item is printed, your logo/image is transferred to a screen, pad, plate, etc. depending on the imprint method. When the logo transfers from the computer, the lines should be crisp in order to print a clean looking logo. If there are pixel “blocks” the image won’t transfer properly and will not be able to print properly.
How do you know your artwork is Vector art?
To tell if your logo or artwork was created with vector art, open the graphic file to see if your artwork was created as vector art. If you don’t have the program that allows you to open the file, ask someone who has the software to check for you.
When the file is opened, you should see something like this:
The lines on the top left corner are connected to the little dots called “nodes”. These are the different points that make up the lines that create your artwork. If you see nodes, you have vector art. If not, you talk to your graphic designer to see if they can give you a copy of your vector art. The final solution is to have your logo or artwork re-created before printing on your promotional items, if all else fails.
A final note on file extensions
While a .pdf file is a completely acceptable file format when submitting artwork, the .pdf file should be converted from the original vector art. If the .pdf was not converted from the vector art, you will end up with raster art. As we learned, raster art is not compatible with the printing machines that transfer your graphic to your promotional items.