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JPEG vs Vector: What's the Difference?

Images are a key in design. And one of the age-old design dilemmas is image quality. Sharp, and clear images are essential in creating captivating design. The last thing you want in an image is unnecessarily blurred lines that take away from your main message.

But the question that inevitably arises from this dilemma is what image format to choose when in the design process. Two of the most typical options are JPEGs and vectors, among a few others.

Careiginal answers the common question, "what is a JPEG or vector file and what is the difference is between the two?"

JPEG vs Vector Images


A JPEG, in simplistic terms, is an image file made up of pixels - yes, like an old-school super Mario game. A JPEG (or JPG) stands for Joint Photographic Experts Group. What makes JPEGs a great option for designers is the file size. When exporting a file as a JPEG, their compression algorithm will significantly decrease the file size. This makes JPEGs a great option for those who are looking to keep a file size small, or for sharing across different platforms with different designers.

The downside with this compression is that the quality of the image often pays the cost for the reduced file size. If you want a better image quality, you’ll need to up the file size along with it. And JPEG images can’t be changed or resized much without sacrificing that quality.

Pros: Captured by a camera, unlimited amount of color, smaller file sizes

Cons: Not scalable to any size, made up of tiny pixels to generate the image


Vector files may be better known as EPS, SVG or Ai files. The main way a vector based image differs from a JPEG is by what it’s made up of. While a JPEG is composed of pixels, a vector, weirdly enough, is made up of vectors. Vectors are points and paths, whereas pixels are small squares put together to make an image. This is why a JPEG can look rather blockish when scaled up, where a vector will stay the same despite its scale. That is the main perk to a vector after all- their ability to scale and remain pristine in ways that JPEGs could never.

The downside in vectors is that their file sizes are often considerably much larger than a JPEG, depending on the project. More than that, a vector image also has the downside of time. If you’re given an image, chances are it’s a JPEG, and it may just be easier to use that JPEG than to spend time recreating an image as a vector. There are also some things that just can't be converted into a vector format - like authentic photographs and portraits.

Pros: Scalable to any size, crystal clear, made of paths and lines

Cons: Typically hand drawn graphics, larger file sizes

The difference between jpeg and vector

Know the Difference

JPEGs and vectors are both incredibly popular image formats, that each have their own pros and cons. They both serve a purpose and can help out when you are designing marketing collateral for your business. Still not sure on when to use a JPEG vs a vector? Shoot us a message and we'll send you our best practices!


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