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BTEC Level 3 Unit 30


P2 - Different Graphic Formats


Bitmap Graphics
Bitmap allows images to be stored as a series of tiny dots called pixels. Each
pixel is actually a very small square that is assigned a colour, and then arranged
in a pattern to form the image. Bitmap is to build up the image from a number of
smaller rectangular blocks of single colour. If you are far away enough from the
image, your eye / brain is fooled into seeing the image as one smooth entity.
Properly positioning the different coloured dots next to each other will perform
the illusion of one colour blending into another. Thus, it is easier to get a more
real-looking image using this format; people can share and edit pictures.
Different formats of bitmap images are used on website graphics as well as in
online art galleries.
They can be very large, particularly if the image contains a large number of
colours. Data compression can shrink the size of pixel data, but the data must be
expanded before it can be used, and this can slow down the reading and
rendering process considerably. Also, the more complex a bitmap image (large
number of colours and minute detail), the less efficient the compression process
will be.

Vector Graphics
Vector is the creation of images through an arrangement of commands that
place lines and shapes in a given two-dimensional or three-dimensional space.
Vector graphics use geometrical objects including points, lines, curves, circles or
other shapes to form an image. Vector-based images are not made up of a
specific number of dots, they can be scaled to a larger size and not lose any
image quality. If you blow up a raster graphic, it will look blocky, or "pixelated.
This makes vector graphics ideal for logos, which can be small enough to appear
on a business card, but can also be scaled to fill a billboard. The alternative is
bitmap graphics which are a map of bits or pixels. Instead of storing every single
dot in the picture as a bitmap, vector images store a set of instructions of how to
draw the shape. The size of the file does not change if the image needs to be
larger - the same instructions will make the image as large as you like, and yet

BTEC Level 3 Unit 30


the line would always remain smooth and clear. The way the vector image shows
depends on the application reading the image. High-resolution raster displays
are needed to display vector graphics as effectively Bitmap is still spreading the
original data over a larger area at the risk of losing clarity. A vector program will
use a mathematical formula to build an image that can be scaled to any size
without losing quality.

Bitmap Vs Vector
Bitmap graphics
Bitmap Uses less processing
power than vectors

Vector graphics
They use more processing power than

They are made up from pixels

They are made up from lines equations

and calculations, Vector graphics also
display an outline or wireframe view
which is important for processes that
require vector art. When a bitmap image
is zoomed in, it usually loses quality.
Vector files cannot easily be used to
store extremely complex images, such
as some photographs, where colour
information is paramount and may vary
on a pixel-by-pixel basis.
A bitmap image can be enlarged by
either adding more pixels or enlarging
the size of the pixel.
Take up less memory than bitmaps

Individual elements cannot be


The images are less precise

than vectors
They take up more memory
than vectors
They take up more storage
space than vectors

Vector data also displays best on

vectored output devices such as plotters
and random scan displays.

File Formats
File Format

Bitmap or

JPG is a file format
for digital photos
and other digital
graphics. JPG files
are saved as lossy
compression; this
means that the
image quality is


BTEC Level 3 Unit 30









lost as file size
GIF is a format
used for graphics.
They contain a
maximum of 256
colours, which are
best suited for
images that
contain simple
shapes, a limited
colour palette,
text and other
elements as
opposed to
TIFF is a file
format for images;
they are mostly
used in graphic
design. These files
can be saved
compression. TIFF
files are mostly
used in graphic
design because
they can store
large, high quality
images such as
PNG is a file
format, it supports
lossless data
compression. This
format is an
improved nonpatented
additional for GIF.
The image content
of these .png files
consists of index
colours integrated
by bitmap images,
and the lossless
digital image
BMP is a file
format used on
Microsoft Windows
platform. This
format is used to
store bitmap
digital images.

BTEC Level 3 Unit 30