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Thread: Vector vs. Raster - when to use which?

  1. #11
      Wordman is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chgowiz View Post
    If you want textures, fills and other effects, you use raster.
    Actually, most vector apps are just as capable of the first two of these as most raster applications; it's really the last one that is the big difference, as well as the "pixel tweaking" advantage of raster apps.

    For textures, all you need to do is create a brush in a vector program and use it for fills. For example, take any 512x512 (rasterized) texture and make it a brush, and it will work just like a raster program (including the crappy scaling). You can also, however, create vector patterns that can be used as textures, which are a bit more flexible, but not by much. (They'll scale better, at least.)

    For fills (gradients, etc), most raster and vector apps seem to be about the same. Vector apps might have a slight advantage of being able to follow paths with a fill, but this is pretty advanced, and not many apps can do this.

    Most of the effects available in a raster app (which work by doing math on the pixels) simply aren't possible on most vector systems. Naturally, there are some effects that only work on vectors but, for most map work, these don't really matter. Some vector apps use a strange hybrid, where they "remember" a series of raster effects to apply to an object and, after the vectors are rendered to to a screen buffer, apply the raster effects. This isn't really the same, though, as altering the pixels directly.

  2. #12
      Chgowiz is offline
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    Thank you to all who've responded. What I have learned from this is that while I can do a great deal with one or the other, there are some options that I may consider in using both. It sounds like I just have to try them out and see what works.

    Thanks!
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  3. #13
      Nomadic is offline
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    For me personally I have found that if I want to do a realistic map that raster is much better. For simple/fast maps though vector is the preferred choice (as you can spit out a basic map much easier with it).

  4. #14
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    Post I disagree!

    Quote Originally Posted by Nomadic View Post
    For me personally I have found that if I want to do a realistic map that raster is much better. For simple/fast maps though vector is the preferred choice (as you can spit out a basic map much easier with it).
    Hey Nomadic, I have to disagree... the following map is already posted in my Paizo Map Attempt thread in the Building WIP forum, however, I am posting it again for emphasis.

    The following map was completely created in Xara Xtreme, with never touching a raster application. Xara Xtreme Pro 3.2 is a vector application - with some powerful features.

    Everything is vector shapes with raster image fills, feathering, different transparency filters applied, bevels and shadows. Only 1 hour of work in this!

    Again, the Bogwood Swamp - Kingdom of Flies! (a vector created map!)

    Thoughts!

    GP
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Vector vs. Raster - when to use which?-bogwood.jpg  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gamerprinter View Post
    Hey Nomadic, I have to disagree... the following map is already posted in my Paizo Map Attempt thread in the Building WIP forum, however, I am posting it again for emphasis.

    The following map was completely created in Xara Xtreme, with never touching a raster application. Xara Xtreme Pro 3.2 is a vector application - with some powerful features.

    Everything is vector shapes with raster image fills, feathering, different transparency filters applied, bevels and shadows. Only 1 hour of work in this!

    Again, the Bogwood Swamp - Kingdom of Flies! (a vector created map!)

    Thoughts!

    GP
    I have to disagree with this in turn. Firstly though I have to point out that what I was talking about was in regards to me. My mapping style is one that makes higher quality stuff with raster but works faster in vector. Secondly, as nice as xara is I actually prefer the look of maps done in photoshop/gimp as they tend to flow more naturally. This of course isn't a hit against you as you do great work. I have noticed though that most vector maps can't get stuff to flow right. An example here would be within your map the artificially sharp mountain peaks and the way that textures suddenly turn into other textures. Vector isn't good at realism, but it is good at simplicity and cleanliness (it is for this reason that I do my cartoonography in vector programs).

  6. #16
      Redrobes is offline
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    There are raster operations and vector operations and Xara can do both. If it loads in bitmaps and textures with them then its doing raster operations. Xara is a hybrid app. Although PSP, PS, Gimp are all hybrids too, I think Xara has what appears to be the best hybrid operations in its class. But you cant say that Xara is a purely vector app because your map is painting pixels by looking up into a bitmapped texture source - even if the shape your texturing is a vector shape that still essentially a raster operation. You can definitively say its a raster operation when you scale an image huge and it pixellates. Neither vector or raster is better in absolute terms they are just different. Some operations are easier to do vector and some raster. Having an app which does both does mean that you don't need to learn two apps but the point is that you need to know which operations are easy in either case. You can draw a line in raster apps and you can fill with pure vector patterns too and sometimes thats the right thing to do and other times its not so good but most would agree that its easier to draw and modify a line in a vector app and a patterns in a raster app. I don't think that its necessarily true that quick or realistic is the right split to say vector or raster as you can do either in either type of operation but some things are quicker in vector and some things and quicker in raster and likewise for realism too. Some things are easy to do in 3D and some things are really hard unless you do them in 3D - its just right tool for the job.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Redrobes View Post
    There are raster operations and vector operations and Xara can do both. If it loads in bitmaps and textures with them then its doing raster operations. Xara is a hybrid app. Although PSP, PS, Gimp are all hybrids too, I think Xara has what appears to be the best hybrid operations in its class. But you cant say that Xara is a purely vector app because your map is painting pixels by looking up into a bitmapped texture source - even if the shape your texturing is a vector shape that still essentially a raster operation. You can definitively say its a raster operation when you scale an image huge and it pixellates. Neither vector or raster is better in absolute terms they are just different. Some operations are easier to do vector and some raster. Having an app which does both does mean that you don't need to learn two apps but the point is that you need to know which operations are easy in either case. You can draw a line in raster apps and you can fill with pure vector patterns too and sometimes thats the right thing to do and other times its not so good but most would agree that its easier to draw and modify a line in a vector app and a patterns in a raster app. I don't think that its necessarily true that quick or realistic is the right split to say vector or raster as you can do either in either type of operation but some things are quicker in vector and some things and quicker in raster and likewise for realism too. Some things are easy to do in 3D and some things are really hard unless you do them in 3D - its just right tool for the job.
    True, but just to pipe in here again for a second. Again, I am talking about what works for me. For me my realistic maps are better in raster, but I can do maps faster in vector. That's not an opinion, it is a fact based on knowing how I work (and I am obviously going to know how I work better than anyone else just the same as they know how they work better than I do).

  8. #18
      Redrobes is offline
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    Sure, my comments were more directed to GP and this line :-

    created in Xara Xtreme, with never touching a raster application
    C'mon, its part raster application too.

    Edit -- actually Nomadic, your aware of what you find best between the two types which is great. Its the knowing that counts and not dismissing one over the other that is important and knowing when to go 3D or use an effect etc. Its about being aware of your tool set and your comfort with each. Chgowiz asked when to use this or that but the answer is dependent on each person and their ability and comfort with them. I use a significantly different set of tools to everyone else here and all I suggest is that people try out different stuff - at least try a raster and vector app or use the raster and vector parts of one app and try some 3D and a stamping token based tool etc. Each have their own pros and cons and no one app has it all. People who say 'I do everything in xyz app' (which is usually PS actually) are missing out.
    Last edited by Redrobes; 02-02-2009 at 04:15 PM.

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    @Nomadic - I wasn't critizing your process or what best works for you. My disagreement was based on the general state that raster is more real and vector is just faster... what works for you, works for you, I'm not criticizing that. (Vector is faster no matter whether you're creating line art or working with images and photographs)

    @Redrobes - I guess I should rephrase that, in my mind a raster application is an image editor (like Photoshop or GIMP) and Xara is not an image editor. Its true it can incorporate raster images in its functionality - and its power to feather, bevel, add transparency in layers is vastly superior than to other applications in its same class.

    However, there are many things I can do with Xara, that I couldn't do with other apps like CorelDraw and Micrografx Designer (my original vector app.)

    I've also qualified myself saying that I do use Raster apps as need arises or using 3D apps for specific needs. Still Xara is always in my production workflow, though sometimes I use only Xara to create maps.

    GP

    PS: to avoid pixelization, I always use as high a resolution an image file as I can whether a painted texture or photograph. I try to obtain large format 300 dpi graphics for all my textures when possible.
    Last edited by Gamerprinter; 02-02-2009 at 04:44 PM.
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  10. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gamerprinter View Post
    @Nomadic - I wasn't critizing your process or what best works for you. My disagreement was based on the general state that raster is more real and vector is just faster... what works for you, works for you, I'm not criticizing that. (Vector is faster no matter whether you're creating line art or working with images and photographs)
    Yea I know, I was actually trying to avoid someone doing this (why I stated that I personally did it that way). But I am bad about not clarifying that my statement is a personal view. So people still had a bit of trouble understanding that I wasn't saying "raster=real vector=fast" I was saying "for me raster is better at real and vector is better at fast".

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