I guess being so engrossed with the art forms for over 6 years now, I've taken my knowledge for granted. It's typical of any artist in most genres. What knowledge and skill set we have is second nature. So my second article, I'd like to show and explain you the differences between Vexel and Vector art. So I present to you, the dummies guide to the difference between vexel and vector art!
Looking straight at the work, it's hard to tell the difference between a skillfully created vexel and a vector. This is because they are not a style of art, but a medium of art.
When we say a "medium" we mean with how a piece of art is created or what with. For instance we have both traditional and digital paintings. A traditional painting is created with, for example, oils and water colours... however a digital painting is created with, for example, you use a paint brush tool or smudge/dodge/burn tool. Although the end result is the same, it's what it's been made with which is the key difference... and especially how we categorise it on deviantART.
Keeping this in mind, the key difference between vexels and vectors are what type of layer has been used to produce the work.
Vexel art: created using raster layers.
Vector art: created using vector layers.
It's easy to remember vectors are made with vector layers... but to associate vexels with raster layers is a little less easy.
The word "vexel" was created based on work appearing to be vector art, but was on raster layers... layers which consist of pixels. Thus "vector" and "pixel" were combined to create the word we now know as "vexel".
So you know the names of the layers, but how do you know the difference? </u>
Raster layer exercise
Ok, this is a little exercise you can do to show you the difference.
1) Right click on your own avatar and save it to your desktop.
2) Open it in your graphics program of choice.
3) Zoom into the image as much as you can... well maybe until about 500%
Below is my avatar zoomed in at 500%:
Looking at your avatar you can see how it is made up of coloured squares. These squares are pixels and show that your .jpg/.gif or .png file of this image is on a raster layer.
1) Now zoom back to 100%
2) Go to Edit > Resize or Image > Resize --- or which ever way to resize the image size.
3) Increase the size to say 500% of the original size
Below is my avatar resized in at 500%:
Depending on the program you have used, you will either see the coloured squares... or you may see a big version of your avatar but with blurred lines and not as sharp as your original sized avatar.
In the first image, your art program read the file and the file told it that for each single pixel in your avatar, it wants it to be a specific colour and in a certain place.
When you resize it, your art program tries to do the best it look as smooth as possible when the size is increased... and to not make the image look pixelated.
Not pretty is it when it's resized?
Vector layer analysis
Wouldn't it be great if you could make a piece of digital art, that could be resized to any size imaginable... maybe like bill board size... and that it wouldn't lose it's quality... it wouldn't pixelate and it wouldn't have blurred lines... that all the lines you made were as sharp as the original image you made. That would be awesome wouldn't it. Think of what you could do to your art work if you could resize it so much!
Hang on a minute... you CAN do this. And how it is done is vector art. Bet you didn't see that one coming!
This is a hard exercise to present to you if you don't have a vector program. So I'll show you with some screen shots.
Below are some shapes on vector layers and the file is saved at 100%.
One thing you have to remember about vectors, is that unless it is in Flash, when it's saved as a .jpg/.gif/.png file, then you are converting it to a raster layer to present it on the web. It's the actual source file which maintains the vector layers here, not the final product.
So moving on... we've seen the first file. Now what if I resized this one at 500%? Below is the result:
Due to the size, I have cropped it... but as you can see the image has maintained it's original crisp edges.
When you create and open a vector file in a vector program, the program is told a series of points... kinda like co-ordinates in maths... it tells the program between point A and point B that there is a line... and if that line has a curve and to what angle the curve is at.
Then the file tells the program that inbetween point A, point B and point C that the area between these is going to be coloured with a specific colour.
When you resize a vector, all you are asking the program to do is resize the distance between the points. All the other elements in the file remain the same... the lines will still be intact, the curve you told the program to make will still be the same and the shape between points A, B and C will still be the same. The program is not as, for lack of a better word, confused. You've only given it one instruction and that is to increase the distance between the points.
Comparing Raster and Vector layers
I'd like to compare with you the result of resizing vector and raster layers now so you can see the benefit and key difference:
Now you can see the vector image is crisp and clean... the raster image is blurred and a little pixelated.
So to go over what you've learned from this, you will now know what a raster layer is and what a vector layer is and in knowing this, you now know what makes vector art... well vector art... and what makes vexel art, vexel art.
If you'd like to know how you can start creating either, please take a read of my previous news article Getting into vexelling and vectoring.