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Inkscape: Vector Graphics For Linux - page 5

Raster vs. Vector

  • February 22, 2005
  • By Rob Reilly

Inkscape and vector graphics are great tools for constructing re-usable graphics. They also save time when it comes to making graphics that need to be tweaked or changed. And, as we've seen modifying the graphics can easily be accomplished manually using a simple text editor or even through programming.

That's the real beauty of SVG, the ability to change the characteristics of the graphics by manual or automated ways.

It's not all fun and games though, because there are some costs or inconveniences associated with using vector elements. The two big disadvantages, right now, are:

Raster graphics can handle the subtle differences in color and contrast that is inherent in a photograph or scanned image. You might say that raster images are real life pictures, like photos. Vector graphics are generated or programmed images. You build them from lines, shapes, colors, etc.

Raster can look real, vector usually looks mechanical and precise.

So for realistic scenes, portraits, nature and the like you can use a raster image. For web graphics, logos, signs, or other scenes along these lines you'd use vector images. Especially they needs to be changed much.

Right now, in order to view those files directly in a browser, it has to be SVG enabled. I downloaded version 1.8b of Mozilla so I could view my handiwork.

Microsoft's Internet Explorer supposedly is able to handle SVG graphics through the use of plug-ins. I have not tried it.

There is salvation for limited browser support, because Inkscape can export the widely used the Portable Network Graphics (PNG) file format. This is a universally used bit-mapped format for Web images. Inkscape will also export Adobe Illustrator (.ai), regular postscript (.ps) and encapsulated postscript (.eps). PNG can be converted to other bitmaps using The Gimp or XV.

It's painless to convert the native SVG files over to PNG using Inkscape on the command line. Here's how I generated a 300 dpi PNG bit-mapped image from Jack's logo example (See Figure 4):

     $ inkscape -export-png=newlogo2.png -export-dpi=300 newlogo2.svg

The original PNG file came out to 2083 X 708 pixels, so I crunched it down to 800 X 600 for display

As you can see, Inkscape has some pretty productive features. Let's wrap up our discussion with a little summary.


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