Aviva Directory » Computers & Internet » Software » Multimedia » Graphics » Vector Graphics

The focus of this category is on software designed to create or edit vector graphics, which are graphical representations of mathematical objects, such as lines, curves, polygons, and so on.

Vector graphics may be generated through various programming languages, but they are most often created through vector illustration software, which is not known for short learning curves.

Unlike JPEGs, PNGs, and GIFs, vector graphics are not comprised of grids of pixels. Rather, vector graphics are defined by paths, which are defined by a beginning and an endpoint, along with other points, curves, and angles along the way. These paths can be a line, a curve, a curvey shape, or a triangle, which are used to create simple drawings or more complex diagrams. Paths may also be used to define the characters of typefaces.

Unlike raster graphics, which are defined by a specific number of dots, vector graphics can be scaled to a larger size without loss of quality. When a vector graphic is expanded, its edges remain smooth and clean, while the edges of a raster graphic will become pixelated or blocky. For this reason, vector graphics are ideal for logos because they can be made small enough to fit on a business card or expanded to fill a billboard.

Common vector graphic formats include AI, DRW, EPS, and SVG, with SVG being the most familiar format for vector graphics.

Vector graphics were first used in computer displays during the 1960s and 1970s because early computers didn't have the memory required to display raster graphics. Early arcade games, like Asteroids, were created with vector graphics. By the early 1980s, however, raster graphics had all but replaced the use of vector graphic technology in computers.

Vector graphics have made a comeback in the 2000s, not due to memory issues, but because of their scalable qualities. With the emphasis on responsive web design, the ability to scale a graphic to fit any screen display size have stirred a renewed interest in vector graphics.

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) created a new graphics language called scalable vector graphics (SVG) as a royalty-free language containing vector shapes and text, and which can contain embedded raster graphics. SVG is also used in geographic information systems (GIS) applications to produce scalable and interactive maps.

Built on XML, SVG is text-based, always editable, and can be used with cascading style sheets (CSS). SVG is also capable of animating almost any part of an SVG image, and colors can be changed by editing the stroke or fill properties of the code that makes up the SVG file.

Because SVG is a form of XML, SVG graphics can be created in a text editor, although there are advantages in using a text editor that supports XML directly, and there are several XML editors on the market.

Most commonly, however, SVG developers are using vector drawing packages, which are the focus of resources in this category. Some of these applications include a facility to export or save SVG created in a text editor, while others have the ability to both open and save SVG images, and to allow the user to view both the image they have drawn and the corresponding source code, with any changes that are made reflected in real-time. Most vector graphics editors will allow for vector graphics to be exported to a raster format.

Well-known SVG graphics editors include Adobe Freehand, Adobe Illustrator, Corel Designer, CorelDRAW, Inkscape, and Xara Photo & Graphic Designer.

There are several others, as well. Potential users should compare the features of these editors to determine their availability for their OS platform, software license requirements and costs, features, user interface, and support for various vector and raster image formats for import and export.



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