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by Shrey Kalawatia

6 Min Read | Mon, 15 May 2023

Understanding Types of Graphic Design Software: Vector, Raster and 3D

You would be able to choose the right graphic design software for your business only after you know about the different types of programs available in the market and how each of them can help you meet your goals.

This blog covers the key software types like Raster, Vector graphics and 3D, along with their pros and cons, and uses and formats, to make your task simple.   

“A picture is worth a thousand words”, an old saying goes.

It especially holds true in today’s world, when images, whether moving or still, are the primary mode of information disbursal.

As attention spans shrink, visual displays reign supreme, and to capture such an audience, you need the best of skills and software to create impactful images. The right graphic design software can make all the difference. 

Comprising types like 3D, Raster, and Vector graphics, such software can range from simple to complex and meet a variety of needs. 

Before choosing a graphic design software for your business, understand the advantages of using such a software and how each type can help. 

Benefits of using a graphic design software 

Here are the top advantages of using a graphic design software: 

  • Helps combine colors, text, shapes in multiple ways to create original, top-quality illustrations

  • Helps create and edit anything from simple images to animations and 3D models

  • Helps save images in various Raster or Vector formats 

  • Allows easy image sharing  

  • Often suitable for those with zero or little experience in editing images

  • Many features available to generate professional and creative images

  • Helps create images for printing, websites, mobile apps, social media etc. 

  • Can be used with spreadsheets and word processors to produce complete presentations or documents 

Understanding Vector graphics software 

This software type helps produce images composed of shapes and lines. 

Most importantly, you can scale Vector graphics infinitely without any loss in quality or precision.

The graphics consist of paths that have starting and end points and the vector elements have smooth, clean edges. In other words, you use geometric commands and mathematical formulas to create and edit the images. You can explore and compare the options available on Zoftware to pick the right tool and create various Vector files easily.   

Vector graphics Pros and Cons 

Vector graphics pros:

  • Scalable, which means exact and clean at any size 

  • Compact file size 

  • Easy editing 

  • Easy loading of Vector files to different programs/devices 

  • Easy duplication 

Vector graphics cons:

  • Less detailing in complex images

  • Takes time and skill to create Vector files 

  • Limited support on web browsers 

Vector graphics software uses:

  • Logos and illustrations for digital/print media 

  • Printing on clothes, magazines, ads, etc. 

  • Open and closed signs, banners, yard signs etc. 

  • Animation with high-definition images and smooth videos 

  • Computer Aided Design/CAD for technical and design documents 

  • Backgrounds and characters in video games

  • Maps in Geographic Information System/GIS

Common Vector file types: 

  • .cdr - CorelDRAW Image File

  • .dxf - Drawing Exchange Format File

  • .ai - Adobe Illustrator File

  • .svg - Scalable Vector Graphics File

  • .eps - Encapsulated PostScript File

  • .wmf - Windows Metafile 

  • .pdf – Portable Document Format 

Different Vector formats are used for different purposes. For instance, EPS files are apt for sending logos or small design elements usually embedded in bigger designs. On the other hand, AI files are widely used in digital and print media graphics. 

Understanding Raster graphics software 

You can use Raster software to produce and edit images composed of pixels or tiny squares of color. They cannot be scaled without quality loss. 

So, if you are wondering what is a Raster image, it is like a rectangular grid or matrix of square pixels. The higher the number of pixels, the better is the image quality. 

Raster graphics Pros and Cons

Raster graphics pros: 

  • Easy to edit with Microsoft Paint or Photoshop 

  • Color and shade gradations 

  • Rich detailing 

  • Quality depends on number of pixels

  • You can edit each pixel individually 

  • Save in multiple file formats 

Raster graphics cons:

  • Lack of scalability, may lead to blurred details/contours, color errors 

  • High-resolution images require large file size

  • Conversion to Vector graphics impacts quality 

Raster graphics software uses: 

  • Logos 

  • Illustrations 

  • Catalogs 

  • Postcards

  • Flyers 

  • Digital photographs 

  • Web graphics 

Common Raster file types:

  • .jpg – Joint Photographic Experts Group 

  • .gif – Graphics Interchange Format 

  • .png – Portable Network Graphics 

  • .tiff – Tagged Image File Format 

  • .bmp – Bitmap Image File 

Different Raster file formats serve different purposes, just like in case of Vector file types. While .jpg is ideal for photographs, .gif is suitable for simple graphics, logos and animation. The .bmp format is preferred for desktop applications and .tiff offers various compression options. To choose the right software, explore the Raster and Vector options Zoftware has to offer. 

Raster vs Vector 

When it comes to choosing one design software over the other, you need to know their differences across several parameters, as listed below: 


  • Raster – Photographs, print materials 

  • Vector – Logos, fonts, digital printing, animation, video games 


  • Raster – Depends on number of pixels and device 

  • Vector – Scalable 

File formats 

  • Raster – .jpg, .bmp, .tiff, .gif, .png

  • Vector – .ai, .cdr, .eps, .dxf, .wmf, .svg 

Size of file 

  • Raster – Large, dependent on exported resolution 

  • Vector – Small 

Conversion and compatibility 

  • Raster – Can be opened in different web browsers and apps 

  • Vector – Special software often required for opening and editing Vector files 

Understanding 3D graphic design software  

Now that you know about Raster and Vector graphics, it is time to review 3D graphic design before you move on to choosing your ideal tool from Zoftware.

Photographs and drawings are two-dimensional. 3D design means creating a mathematical representation of a 3-dimensional shape or object using software.

Think of it as artists using points in the virtual space to craft a mesh and design the object in question. 

3D graphics can help shape, analyze, document, and share concepts and ideas in a realistic manner across industries.  

3D graphic design software can:

  • Reduce design costs and time by allowing reviewing, testing and tweaking of products before production starts

  • Create and personalize digital renderings quickly 

  • Reduce the need for physical prototypes

  • Assure precision and quality before the actual designing begins 

  • Detect design flaws in advance 

  • Allow easy data access for all stakeholders 

  • Ease product presentation and promotion 

3D graphic design types

  • Solid modelling – Creates objects with a basic geometric shape, for easy modification, rotation, manipulation etc. 

  • Wireframe modelling – Demonstrates an object’s basic structure with lines, curves, edges

  • Surface modelling – Focused on exterior object view, elaborate, with organic shapes and complex features

  • Polygonal modelling – Starts as a simple shape and details are added gradually to create a 3D polygonal mesh 

  • CAD – Uses angles, lines, symmetrical and conventional geometric figures 

  • Digital sculpting – Mostly used for organic objects and characters, this technique deforms a flat block to make it look like the target 

3D graphic design software uses

  • 3D modelling for visualization, simulation, rendering of graphic designs

  • Virtual reality for immersive, interactive experiences 

  • 3D CAD for accurate design visualization in architecture/engineering 

  • Visual effects to create amazing environments and characters in entertainment 

  • Product designing for cars, industrial equipment, factories etc. 

Common 3D file types

  • STL – Standard Triangle Language 

  • STP – Straight Through Processing 

  • OBJ – Object File 

  • 3MF – 3D Manufacturing Format 

Key takeaways 

  • Graphic design software can help create, modify, share, save and use images in various ways

  • Vector graphics software uses mathematical and geometric commands to create images that can be scaled infinitely without quality loss 

  • Raster graphics software helps create and edit images made of pixels, which gives superior control over image modification, however, it cannot be scaled without quality loss 

  • Raster and Vector differ based on parameters like resolution, usage, file size etc. 

  • 3D graphic design software can reduce design time and costs, minimize prototypes, identify design flaws on time, produce high quality, and help create deeper visual impact.