Why can’t you just use my jpg?

Blog Nutshell Squirrel

What’s this vector thing you’re looking for?

You’ve used the JPG file of your logo a million times without any trouble, but the designer is asking for a “vector” version. Isn’t that a cereal? Or was it something from science class? So what’s a vector and why can’t they just use the JPG?

As flexible a format as JPG can be, there are some limitations to its use.

Here’s why it doesn’t always work

Below is a JPG and an EPS vector of the same graphic at the same size. At first glance, they look fairly similar.

Blog Jpg 1Compare

But start to scale the JPG and it gets “blocky”, while the EPS stays smooth:

Blog Jpg 2Compare

Background issues

Dropping the JPG onto coloured backgrounds can pose a problem because it must assign a colour to the file background, EPS does not:

Blog Jpg 3Compare

Editing issues

With a JPG, a simple colour change can become an involved Photoshop exercise with clipping paths, redrawing, painting, etc., whereas colour changes to an EPS can be a simple click or two away.

Blog Jpg 4Compare

Printing issues

JPGs are also limited by colour. They exist only in CMYK or RGB. If you need to match a specific Pantone colour or restrict your printing to less than 4 colours, a vector is a necessity.

As shown above, a JPG is dependent on resolution, too low and you’ll get that “blocky” effect. EPS has no limit on resolution. Resolution is particularly important when using a JPG for print.

Know your file limitations

JPG is a very useful and versatile format with many advantages; small file size, compatible with a wide variety of applications, and no font issues to name a few. They also have very specific limitations. JPG is great for images and works well for many screen applications, but keep resolution in mind and be prepared to work around issues involving background and editing.

If you’ve been asked to provide an EPS or vector file, odds are your designer or supplier is trying to accomplish one of the above while trying to spare you the cost of reworking or recreating your graphic.

If you would like to read more about JPGs (also known as raster graphics) and EPS files (known as vector graphics), visit our blog to learn about the differences.

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