CT&D #46. Object- vs. Pixel-based Graphics

What are the advantages and disadvantages of object-based graphics versus pixel-based graphics?

There are a couple of advantages and disadvantages for using either type of image format. For object-based ones (also called vector graphics), the pros include scalability (or the resizing of an image) without having to worry about jagged edges due to pixels enlarging or shrinking, its relatively smaller file size in contrast to its counterpart format and its ability to remain at its best graphical quality (or resolution) between different forms of media display. Some of the disadvantages include the time-consuming nature of creating object-based image(s) (personally, I can relate to this), the more expenses needed to produce images of this type physically / professionally and the inability to edit or take a photo as a vector image natively as photos are always composed of pixels.

For pixel-based graphics (also called raster), the format is useful for editing the quality and changing the property aspects of media such as photos, as well as allowing for graphical editing precision and detail as these images are made up of an infinitesimal amount of squares (this is useful for manipulating areas of a photo like through cloning color in places that lack such); pixel-based graphics also work well online as digital assets or as web-based visuals and load in almost any program, like Adobe Flash.

Some of the drawbacks of these graphics include large file sizes (where larger files slow down processing speed of rendering a file on a webpage), a possible presence of grain and distortion caused by missing pixels that are usually filled out automatically (i.e. when resizing or manipulating a photo’s boundaries) and lastly, a loss of the original RGB color scheme that gets converted into CMYK to allow for an equivalent composition of color when a photo or image is printed (though the same is true for object based graphics; with pixels, color is more rough and blended in presence). With respect to photography, these last 2 disadvantages can be mitigated with careful shooting, lighting and editing techniques to preserve quality in such a pixel-based composition.

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