top of page

Clipart, Vector, and Illustration: What Is The Difference?

In the world of design and graphics, various terms are often used to describe different types of visual elements. Three such terms that are frequently encountered are clipart, vector, and illustration. While they might seem similar at first glance, each has its unique characteristics and use cases. In this article, we'll dive into the differences between clipart, vector and illustration.


Three apples: a clipart, a vector and an illustration
 

What is a Clipart?


"Screenshot of the Clipart Landing Page on FreeImages.com

Clipart is a term that has been around for quite some time. It refers to pre-made, static images or graphics that can be easily inserted into documents, presentations, or digital projects. Clipart is typically simple, with a limited color palette, and is often used for decorative purposes. It's a convenient way to add visual elements to your work without having to create them from scratch.


One of the key features of clipart is that it's raster-based, meaning it's made up of pixels. This can result in a loss of quality when resizing, as pixelation may occur. Clipart is readily available in various themes and styles, making it accessible to a wide range of users.



 

What is a Vector Graphic?


"Screenshots of the Vector Landing Page on FreeImages.com

Vector graphics, on the other hand, are created using mathematical equations to define shapes and lines. These equations allow vector graphics to be infinitely scalable without any loss of quality. Unlike clipart, which is pixel-based, vector graphics are resolution-independent.


Vector graphics are highly versatile and can be used for everything from logos and icons to complex illustrations. Design software like Adobe Illustrator is commonly used to create vector graphics. The ability to manipulate individual anchor points and paths in vector graphics makes them ideal for precise and detailed work.


 

What is an Illustration?


"Screenshots of the Illustrations Landing Page on FreeImages.com

Illustration is a broad term that encompasses a wide range of visual art forms. An illustration is essentially a visual representation or interpretation of an idea, concept, or subject. Illustrations can be created in various styles, from traditional hand-drawn and painted artwork to digital illustrations produced using graphic tablets or software.


Unlike clipart, illustrations are often custom-made and tailored to specific projects. They can be highly detailed and complex, making them suitable for storytelling, editorial content, and branding. Illustrations can also be vector-based, which combines the benefits of scalability with the creative freedom to craft unique visuals.

 

The Differences Between Clipart, Vector, and Illustration


In conclusion, clipart, vector graphics, and illustrations each serve distinct purposes in the world of design and graphics. Clipart offers convenience and simplicity, making it suitable for quick and easy visual additions. Vector graphics provide scalability and precision, making them valuable for professional design work. Illustrations encompass a wide range of artistic expression and can be tailored to fit specific creative visions.


Understanding the differences between these three design elements can help you make informed choices when it comes to searching and selecting the right visual elements for your projects. Whether you need a quick decorative touch, a versatile and scalable design, or a custom-made piece of art, knowing when to use clipart, vector graphics, or illustrations can enhance the impact of your visual communications.

bottom of page