Vector VS Raster. Or, Connect the Dots VS a Mosaic

12 07 2010

I’ve always wanted to have a forum for explaining a few graphics things that confound lay-people. I’m going to discuss two of those things here in a very short period. In this blog I’m going to talk about the difference between vector art (.eps, .ai, .svg) and raster, or pixelated art (.jpg, .gif, .tiff). In the next one I’m going to talk about resolution.

After you’ve read these you’re finally  going to understand why people tell you that they can’t download your logo from your website to create poster board-sized signs.

Think of vector art as like playing connect the dots and then filling in with a crayon.  When you create vector art you move your cursor around the work area, creating dots, or points. Between each two points is a line. You can make your lines straight or curved depending on how you click your points. The computer says “Okay, here’s the first point at this fixed spot.” It gives that spot a name. When you make your next point, creating your first line, the computer says “okay, the next point is  over here, and the line has a curve that looks like this…”

Here, take a look at this — click on the graphic to see it larger. You can see the points and lines in the first tree. You can see the points in the second and the “regular” picture in the third.

The special thing about vector art is that you can scale it — make it bigger or smaller — without having it lose any information. When you scale it up or down, it keeps its crispness. That’s why the person creating your posters or your programs or your tee-shirts wants your logo as vector art. He can change the size without losing any quality.

Vector art is most commonly created in Adobe Illustrator or CorelDraw.

On to raster art. That’s Microsoft Paint or Photoshop’s world, and what people are most familiar with. Think of raster art as a big mosaic. Each little piece, or pixel, means nothing by itself, but together, they create a picture. Take a look at this tree.

Raster art is what digital photographs are made from. It’s what all web graphics are made from. It’s what Microsoft Paint creates.

So, when do you choose vector art or raster art? Many people tend to create their artwork in raster simply because it’s easier to learn the basics of Microsoft Paint or Photoshop than it it to learn the basics of Illustrator or CorelDraw. But it’s not always the best answer.

If you’re creating anything that you may want to use in various sizes, you want to use vector art. Logos are created in vector art. It’s also best to use vector art if you’re creating anything with words, that needs to be printed. As you’ll see in the next blog, because of resolution issues with raster art, text can be a real problem in raster art.

Since photos are raster art, you use raster art to manipulate photos.

You can only use raster art on the Web. So, if you’re creating art for the Web, you can create it either as raster or as vector, but you’ll have to save it as raster to put it on your Web pages.

But, I want to stress again, logos should really be created in vector art. You may think that your logo is only ever going to live on the Web, but someday you may want a business card, letterhead, a flyer or tee-shirt with your logo on it. If you must create your logo in raster art, make sure you make it big enough to start. You can always make it smaller, you can’t always make it larger.

Okay, later this week we’ll talk about resolution.

:)Sj





Don’t Click Here! Or, How to Use your Links Effectively

30 06 2010

As I was driving up to Summerfest with my sister Amy, I read to her from a Sweet Adeline chorus’ home page (gotta ♥ the iPhone!) about a unique method they were using to solicit new members.

“Blah blah blah,” I read, “and for more information click here.” And “click here” were the words that was the link.

I told her that you should never make “click here” the link!

She asked me why and I proceeded to explain it to her in some detail.

That’s when she told me that I should be blogging. And I told her that I wasn’t sure I had anything new to contribute. And she told me that I had the opportunity to reach out to people in my own “community” who need to understand today’s technology. Like that chorus that had a great idea for a promotion and just needed some help in promoting it…

So, with that long-winded introduction, here’s why you should never make “click here” the link.

Two reasons, actually.

1) Accessibility. A person with poor vision, no vision or dyslexia will often utilize a piece of software called a screen reader to read his computer screen out loud to him. When a screen reader reads a website, it starts at the top and reads everything on the page. This person may “skim” through the page by just tabbing through the links of the page, to see what the page has to offer. If the only thing that’s linked is “click here,” the person will have no idea where “clicking here” will take him. See the video to the right to see/hear an example of what someone might hear by using a screen reader.

So, what do text do you link to? Link to a description of what he’s going to when he clicks.

  • Register for the class instead of Click here to register for the class
  • Find more information about our director, Wolfgang Mozart instead of More information

2) SEO or Search Engine Optimization. Folks, you stick with me and you’re going to wish you knew as much about SEO as I wish I knew!

SEO is what we do to our websites so that people can find them. I’ll talk a lot about SEO on these pages, but right now, let’s just agree that if we have a website, we want people to be able to find it.

Search engines believe that one of the things that determines what a page is about, is what it links to. So, if your page is about a class that you’re offering, it will help the search engines if your links look like this

  • Register for the marketing class
  • Learn more about the teacher
  • See the class itinerary

Bottom line? Don’t “Click Here”  or “Read More.”  Put useful, meaningful words on your web pages.

Comments? Questions? How am I doing?





What It’s All About

29 06 2010

Well, I suppose if you’re going to start a blog, you should introduce yourself. Of course, I imagine that when you first start a blog only your friends are reading it, so you already know me. But, just to be polite, I’ll introduce myself.

My name is Sarajoy Pickholtz. You can call me Sj.

Here are some important things to know about about me:

  • I love my family
  • I sing barbershop — I’m a lead, though I sang baritone for 17 years
  • I sing in a 5 time Gold-Medal-winning totally awesome record-breaking Sweet Adelines chorus, the Melodeers
  • I also sing with a wonderful, smaller Sweet Adelines chorus, Riverside Chorus
  • I sing in a quartet called Premium Blend
  • I love my cats
  • I’m a webmaster in my “real” job
  • I used to be a graphic artist
  • I was an English major
  • I have a strong, vested interest in my sister and brother-in-law’s business, Gold Medal Ideas and I look forward to some day in the far future when I’ll be able to work at it full time
  • Lots more but this is all that I’m going to start with right now

I’ve been working in and around and with non-profits for over thirty years, and I’ve picked up a few tips and tricks about marketing, fundraising, membership, and participation that I thought I might share in this blog. Since I’m a webmaster, I have some particular web tricks I’d like to share. I know a lot about graphics, so I’m going to answer a lot of questions that you didn’t even know you had.

I envision a kind of interactive blog where I share, you share and we all get great ideas from each other.

That’s it, I think. How this for my first blog entry?

Sj