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     The term "vector imagery" refers to the process by which the image is stored. Vector images are composed of lines and areas of data (referred to as "paths"), as opposed to the pixels used by raster images. Vector graphics are not subject to the restrictions of raster imagery. They may be resized or printed without pixelization.

     Vector images can only represent simple, straightforward graphics. For example, images composed of simple geometric shapes can be stored in vector format, while photographs cannot be "vectorized" without significant distortion. All of the maps in the Contemporary Map Index were created using vector image software, and were converted from their original vector format for posting on the Internet.

  To view the examples in this tutorial, you will need to download and install the free Macromedia Flash Player. The link to the left will automatically begin the installation process.

 
While viewing the image, right click and use the menu that appears to Zoom In or Zoom Out.
 

"Vectorized" raster example
     The image on the right was originally a raster image. Notice how the points of color have been replaced with lines and areas of color.

   
  "Rasterized" vector example
     The image on the left was originally a vector image. Notice how vector formats are much better suited for maps

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