Vector and raster are two basic image formats encoded in different ways. You can enlarge a vector image almost indefinitely without losing its quality. It’s an essential advantage when you want to print it in a bigger size or change minor details. That’s why stock vector images are so popular among designers.
This article covers the most popular types of vector file formats used for designs and art projects. It also explores popular websites, which you can use to download stock vector graphics for free. Read on!
What are stock vector graphics?
While raster images consist of tiny pixels that might become visible when an image is enlarged, pictures in vector formats comprise countless geometrical shapes and figures called “paths.”
Each path has a start and endpoint, and is made of lines, curves, and dots. The paths do not depend on resolution, making each vector image indefinitely scalable.
One other advantage of vector graphics is that lines and curves clearly define the limits of differently colored image areas. It makes changing the colors of various vector image parts simple. Therefore, it’s straightforward to scale, edit, and manipulate a vector in different ways, making it the best format for printing, making logo design, and creating digital illustrations and art.
Four popular types of vector file formats
Vector images come in many shapes and sizes, but AI, EPS, PDF, and SVG formats are the most popular ones. You might use different vector types for various creative projects, be it editing documents, creating a small animation, or designing a logo. Therefore, it makes sense to decide which vector graphic format fits your creative goals before you start looking for free stock vector images online.
AI is the most popular vector image format, and an Adobe Illustrator native file. Although it is natural to edit AI vectors in Adobe Illustrator, other programs like CorelDRAW or GIMP can process it as well. Also, AI images can be opened and edited on different operating systems, including Windows and iOS.
AI vectors are often used for small-scale design projects like icons, logos, T-shirt designs, and miniature illustrations. Type designers prefer them because of their precise and clean lines.
EPS or Encapsulated PostScript is the “grandfather” of all vector formats, and it is still popular today and compatible with almost any software. Therefore, this format is a printing industry standard and is used for high-quality image printing, especially if the result should be large and detailed. Banners, billboard posters, and exhibition stands are all examples of design projects using EPS files.
There are both raster and vector PDF files. Most vectors are saved in PDF documents because this file format is made to contain more high-quality data and multiple layers. It is also easy to change the text in a vector PDF file: you just edit a text element and leave the other details intact. PDF vectors can be opened and edited in multiple online and offline programs.
Vector PDF files are typically used to create and preserve documents with all illustrations, texts, infographics, and other vital parts.
SVG is short for a Scalable Vector Graphics format that was made for web-based projects. These vector files are optimized for storing and distributing information. SVG vectors are quickly transmitted and interpreted by any on screen display, making it a good format for small infographics, icons, logos, illustrations, and animations.
You can view SVGs in many programs, but only edit in several, like CorelDRAW, Inkscape, or Adobe Illustrator.
Four platforms featuring free high-quality stock vectors
Many websites feature free stock vector images, but not all of them offer properly licensed HD content. Here are four trusted sources featuring licensed vector images in various formats.
The Depositphotos stock content platform offers 230+ million royalty-free visual and audio files, including 70,000 free images and videos. You can find EPS and SVG vectors in the library using advanced search filters at https://depositphotos.com/stock-photography.html. Just adjust the search by vector type, date, orientation, color, origin, and other parameters, and type in a keyword to get needed results. You can then download your vectors and use them for personal and commercial purposes with attribution.
You can also opt for a 7-day free trial, during which you can download up to 10 premium vector files or any other stock images available on the site for your projects.
Pixabay is a great website for beginner creators, featuring an extensive collection of free-to-use vectors. Their vector graphics are available in either SVG or AI format. The Pixabay license allows you to use their vectors commercially, as long as you don’t sell printed material that is the exact copy of the picture, or resell these images on other platforms.
Moreover, Pixabay offers many vector files for small design projects—logos, buttons, and other design elements for print and digital projects.
This vast website offers all kinds of free images, including vectors, most of which are in EPS format. To find free vector files, click on Vectors in the upper left corner of the website and, on the new page, do the keyword search for the needed images. Some of them are free, and others, with a tiny crown in the upper left corner of the picture, are available for download to Premium users only. To see only free files, click on the Free license in the Filters section.
Free users have to attribute the image author when using vectors for commercial purposes.
Vecteezy has a huge vector library with over 200,000 files for free. Vector images come in all popular formats like AI, SVG, PDF, and EPS. The website, by default, is geared towards searching for various vectors—just enter your keyword to look for the picture.
Vecteezy offers vector files under three types of licenses—Free, Pro, and Editorial. A Free License doesn’t require any payment and allows using images commercially; however, you will have to attribute the author.
If you are a beginner designer working with vector images, it is good to remember two things. First, different creative projects call for different formats of vector images. Second, many of these stock vectors can be found online for free, in high quality and popular formats.