Vectorization is a process, where image elements of one image of single paths are arranged and then are converted into vector graphics. Every path can be subsequently scaled without losing quality. The process is especially interesting for graphics which are just available as a print out and which will be later digitalized.
The term “vectorization” describes the generation of vector graphics from raster graphics. Raster Graphic is developed by using a color grid, in which each panel/box is filled with a certain color. There every color box equates to exactly one pixel, which together display the actual picture. The pixels are individually modified during the image processing. The disadvantage here is, that raster graphics lose quality very fast during the scaling especially while enlarging them. Details and contours are blurry, and the image seems to be gritty and pixilated. Vector graphics on the other hand consist out of lines and curves which a determined by vectors. If vector graphics are scaled, enlarged or narrowed, the better picture quality remains, because one changes only the length of single vectors. The color as well as other features can easily be adjusted. That means that vector graphics are not dependent on resolution.
Images which were taken with a digital camera or which were scanned, are always grid graphics. Photos etc., which are downloaded from the internet, are also Pixel-Images. The resolution of a digital camera is indicated with megapixel. The images´ resolution is separated in horizontal and vertical pixels. Scales of these grid graphics are always combined with quality loss, because of that they should be transformed into vector graphics.
The vectorization of graphics is needed when images should be infinitely scaled and/or otherwise easily processed. Logos belong i.e. to the graphics, which are always used for different purposes: On documents and business cards, internet pages, for giveaways, pamphlets and much more. With the use of vector graphics documents can be displayed and printed without considering the resolution of the printer. One of the vector graphic page description languages is i.e. the PostScript or PDF.
The geometrics of maps etc. in GIS (Geo-Informationssystem) can be saved as vector data and after that easily combined with other data. For CAD (Computer Aided Design) vectors and vector data are also important, i.e. when calculating meaturements, creating stocklists, etc.
The Adobe Illustrator of the Creative Suite Family is one of the most professional and convincing programs if vector graphics are to be created. It is also possible to transform grid graphics into high resulition vector graphics with the Live Trace Function. The Illustrator uses so called paths, which make it possible to vectorize every image – drawings, photos, scans logos, PDFs and much more, that it can be clearly defined and therefore randomly transformed. Corel Draw and Photoshop have also been proven to be successful in vectorizing graphics.