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After writing my first article on an introduction to getting into vexel and vector art, a question was raised to do with the differences between the art forms.

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%:

Zoomed in by ChewedKandi

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%:

Resized in by ChewedKandi

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%.

Star original by ChewedKandi

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:

Start resized by ChewedKandi

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:

Start resized by ChewedKandi Start pixeled by ChewedKandi

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.
Add a Comment:
Briqhtlinq Featured By Owner Jul 26, 2018  Hobbyist General Artist
Vexel is a bit easier to use than vector.
uniikart Featured By Owner Sep 18, 2016  Hobbyist Interface Designer
Thank you very much! So helpful to know the difference between the two. 
I guess(?):
Vector: CORELDRAW & AI (?)
Here is my Vector Art using CorelDRAW X7 :…
CapnDeek373 Featured By Owner Jan 18, 2016  Professional General Artist
Would the term "vexel" apply to art where the line work is crated in a vector program (like Illustrator, and saved as linework)
then taken to a pixel program (like Photoshop) to be colored?
AndrewCPrice Featured By Owner Oct 7, 2015
Thank you very much my friend, I was just wondering what the hell to enter my work under.
77TN Featured By Owner Sep 13, 2015
great information
missdelarocha Featured By Owner Sep 9, 2013
Don't most people raster their previous vectors for uploading purposes, for e.g sites such as this? I wouldn't leave it as an .ai or .psd for upload.
angelothegreat Featured By Owner Jul 24, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
what is the meaning of rasterize? :D
livholland Featured By Owner Jun 2, 2013  Student Digital Artist
thank you for explaining the difference it was very helpful!
BASAG-ang-PULA Featured By Owner Aug 1, 2012
great articale
ChewedKandi Featured By Owner Aug 5, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
maddaluther Featured By Owner Jun 21, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
thanks for the info i've learn something new. ty. XD
yhEowh Featured By Owner Jul 20, 2011
very informative. Thank you very much!
ImJadey Featured By Owner Apr 17, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Yeah! Thanks for the knowledge, friend! :)
ChewedKandi Featured By Owner Apr 18, 2011  Professional Digital Artist
No problem :salute:
Cherrypopz Featured By Owner May 11, 2010
Nice Article. Very well written and easy to understand.
ChewedKandi Featured By Owner May 11, 2010  Professional Digital Artist
Thank you - I appreciate it :) :hug:
chaoticmind Featured By Owner Oct 13, 2009  Professional Digital Artist
nice article
MissANN91 Featured By Owner Jul 10, 2009  Hobbyist Digital Artist
WOW! Thank you for this dude! NOW i know which one is vexel! :P
MusicalNature Featured By Owner Jul 5, 2009  Student Artist
Awesome thanks. It has been bothering me what the difference was/
jackdarton Featured By Owner Feb 4, 2009  Professional Digital Artist
davealbon, just post up a zoomed in version of your vector to show it still has crisp lines.

basically for all the people out there who still dont understand the difference, here it is:

VECTOR: an image defined by mathematics, can be increased to any size with NO loss of quality. vecotr images are usually made up of blocky sections to imitate smooth shading.

VEXEL: image made up using ordinary pixels to define edges BUT looks like a vector due to,blocky shading. basically, it imitates a vector minus the ability to resize hugely and keep quality.

RASTER: ordinary image like a photograph as such. advantages include smooth gradients and shading, but you cannot resize with no loss of quality.

hope this helped.
davealbon Featured By Owner Jan 5, 2009
hi sir... can you help me with my problem... see I have a vectorized art and my co-member doesn't believe its a vector.. and now we are having a long discussion on the matter. can you check it out and give me your personal comment.. tnx.

link : [link]
ChewedKandi Featured By Owner May 25, 2009  Professional Digital Artist
Sorry for the late reply on this - haven't visited this in ages!

It looks like the portrait is a vector, however the background looks like you've used brushes in photoshop to create that texture - is this correct?

If you created the shapes for the portrait on vector layers, then it is a vector.

However if you have used brushes in the background you could not consider the whole piece as a vector and would be considered as mixed media. The portrait element by itself is vector though if it is created on vector layers. It is entirely possible to create a vector in photoshop.

I hope I have not confused you there :)

As for the comments you've gotten on that site:

"Working in vector has it’s advantages but vexels can be created in either VECTOR or raster format since the process and result is significantly similar."

This is incorrect. A vexel is created on raster layers and raster layers only. The word vexel is a mix of vector and pixel... art which ressembles vector but is infact created on pixel (aka raster) layers.

Myself and a friends word inspired the word vexel back in the day, so I should know what a vexel is ^^
D-MiTcH Featured By Owner Dec 7, 2008
could i get a definition of raster layers?
nadjeeb Featured By Owner Sep 22, 2008   Digital Artist
huhuhuu... vector is the best..! but sometimes raster could be better than vector :D
rainbow66 Featured By Owner Aug 14, 2008
finally! a good explanation!!
thanks so much!
very helpful
RhinoMedia Featured By Owner Jul 24, 2008
Awesome little article - exactly what I was looking for. God save Google.
jongart Featured By Owner Jun 22, 2008   Digital Artist
the encyclopedia briefly defines the meaning of "Vexel" is "vexel is an entirely pixel-based raster image that imitates the vector graphics style. The word derives from a combination of "vector" and "pixel" .

For the making-process of the vexel art, I think normally we did illustrator work(or vector job) first, then do the retouch, deep and detailed rendering in Photoshop or software like Painter. For me it works oddly if i begin with photoshop raster drawing. Anyways, it's all up to your habit.
HouseofChabrier Featured By Owner Jun 12, 2008
Your article was most clear, and most informative, and now I know what I do is Vector Art. Thank you! I'm totally self taught on this program, except for reading to page 100 in my Adobe Illustrator Book. I know how to do what I do, but I don't know what itis called. Next I want to learn Adobe Photoshop. Thanks for your kindness, your information, and all of your help. Sincerely...Annie ...House of Chabrier
seraphicsylph Featured By Owner May 24, 2008
But...that means we can't know for sure when a vector is a vexel when viewing most web content since a large chunk of it consists of raster formats, no?
ChewedKandi Featured By Owner May 26, 2008  Professional Digital Artist
Yes thats correct... all you kind of have as a guide to whether a piece of work is a vexel or a vector is the artists word for it.
seraphicsylph Featured By Owner May 26, 2008
Thought so...and what about the use of the gradient mesh tool in illustrator? Does it render a piece a vector? I've read comments suggesting the negative on but I can see that sometimes a artist still categorizes their piece as a vexel even when there has admittedly been extensive use of the gradient mesh. :confused:
ChewedKandi Featured By Owner May 26, 2008  Professional Digital Artist is very confusing for people and it also classes vector work as a vexel. Which for a pureist is completely false. also classes vexels as a style, when infact it is a medium.

Gradient mesh is a tool specifically found in vector programs... so as the tool produces a vector shape, assuming the rest of the piece is done in vector... it would be a vector.

Now if someone added a vector mesh on top of a piece which was raster based, making one part vector, the rest vexel, the artist would have to consider classing it as mixed media as it is neither 100% vector nor 100% vexel/raster based.

If a piece is made purely of gradient meshes, then it is a vector, not a vexel.

I guess you have to remember that all we're talking about is the difference in layers used... is the piece made of vector layers or raster layers?

Vector layers = vector art
Raster layers = vexel art
Vector and raster layers = mixed media

I do hope this helps :)
seraphicsylph Featured By Owner May 26, 2008
Indeed it does. Thanks very much for your immensely helpful pointers! :rose:
rurikomai Featured By Owner May 24, 2008 soo confuse about vector and vexel lately
fine-mellow Featured By Owner May 21, 2008
thank you
cybaBABE Featured By Owner May 19, 2008
beside your little mistake, this article is a very nice and easy to understand explanation for all ppl who don't know the difference. well done ;)
abstrasctik Featured By Owner May 18, 2008  Professional Digital Artist
we love Vectors!
MorganRLewis Featured By Owner May 1, 2008  Hobbyist Digital Artist
OK, I think this has cleared up one of my few confusions on the site. For the longest time, I was unsure what "vexel" meant, and the site's gallery description didn't help much (it may have changed since then, I haven't checked.)

Now, I think I know. Art that looks like it's vector-drawn, but isn't. Easy enough.

Jules1983 Featured By Owner May 1, 2008  Hobbyist Photographer
:heart: Awesome! I couldn't be happier :D
Darling-Kyttie Featured By Owner Apr 30, 2008
Yay ! Nice entry. We needed one of these. :)
ChewedKandi Featured By Owner Apr 30, 2008  Professional Digital Artist
Eeek... just been pointed out to me that I've written

"Vector art: created using pixel layers." <--- it should be VECTOR layers.... if anyone could edit this please, I'd greatly appreciate it!
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