Artwork Explained

There is always a lot of misunderstanding when it comes to print ready files. Below we will briefly explain the differences between file types and what the best files types are for artwork in our line of business.

Vector Art vs Raster Art:
     Raster artwork is any digital art composed of horizontal and vertical rows of pixels. As a result, when raster images are enlarged, the image quality diminishes significantly. Typical raster file types include .psd, .tif, .jpg, .gif, .png and .bmp.
     Vector artwork is digital art composed of mathematical lines and curves. Typical vector file types include .ai, .eps and .svg

Example Images of Vector vs Raster:
     
TSDC Logo
Above is a picture of our logo which looks fine at it's current size.
Zoom 1
If we zoom in you can start to notice the difference.
Vector Art on the Left - Raster Art on the Right
Zoom 2
Another zoom.
Vector Art on the Left - Raster Art on the Right
 
Vector Art for Screen Printing:
     We use vector art for screen printing because it allows us to shrink or stretch a design depending on what size we need to print. It also allows the color separation process to happen quickly and efficiently.
 
Vector Art for Heat Pressing:
     Vector art is needed for heat pressing because it's not actually a picture but a set of numbers and paths that make up the artwork. This allows our plotter to cut the design out from a roll of heat press vinyl.
 HP Paths
Above you can see our design in vector when just viewing the paths. These are the paths the cutting blade will take when the plotter cuts out the design using heat press material.
 
PDF Files:
     A PDF document can be a mixture of raster artwork as well as vector. A PDF document is not always vector art and we run in to this problem often. A customer will be given a PDF file of their artwork under the assumption it is vector art. When in fact, in most cases, the PDF document consists of a rasterized image placed into it and is the same thing as being handed a .JPG or similar file.
     This can also be true with other vector file formats. We have had .EPS and .AI files sent to us that were not vector art, but rather had a rasterized image placed in it.
 
How can I tell if my image is Vector or Raster?
     A simple way without knowing all the in's and out's of artwork and file types is to just zoom in on it. Zoom in on your file as much as you can. Zoom in as far as it will left you go. If the edges of your design or text remain crystal clear then you more than likely have a vector file that you are looking at. If the image starts to get pixelated at all, even in the slightest then you are staring at a rasterized image.

Embroidery Files:
     Digitized embroidery files are needed for embroidering an item. These are not print ready art or vector art. Typical embroidery file types are .DST & .EMB
     A digitized embroidery file can not typically be opened or viewed by the average customer as it requires embroidery software to view and/or edit.
     Vector art is still ideal in making the digitizing process faster and produces a higher quality finished image.
EMB Example1
We start with vector art.
EMB Example2
Design digitized for embroidery.
EMB Example3
You can see that it is no longer an image and now it is just points where the needle and thread hit.
EMB Example4
Here we can preview what the finished product is going to look like.