Digital Imaging Basics

This camp will focus on learning the basics of Adobe Illustrator, a vector based program used by professional graphic designers and digital artists.
Below are a few key considerations when making digital art for you to understand as you move forward.

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Raster images are composed of pixels and created in programs like Adobe Photoshop and Procreate. 

  • Digital photographs are raster images made of pixels.
  • You can easily scale a raster image down, but cannot scale a raster image up without losing resolution quality.
  • Raster images tend to have a larger file sizes (especially as high resolution, printable images). 
  • File formats include: .jpg, .png, .tif, .gif

Vector graphics are constructed using mathematical formulas and built using paths (or lines) and points. Adobe Illustrator creates vector graphics. 

  • Vectors allow for easy scaling without loss of quality.
  • Vector graphics usually have smaller file sizes.
  • Most commonly used for creating logos, charts/graphs, and simple illustrations.
  • File formats include: .eps, .ai, .pdf  

Vector vs. Raster


Print vs. Screen

Before you begin your project, you should determine how you plan to output your final illustration.
Do you want to print it? Or is this an illustration that will be used on a screen?

Basic rule of thumb:
Print resolution = 300 DPI at desired output size (ex: 8 inches x 10 inches)
Screen resolution = 72 DPI at desired output size (400 px x 300 px)

NOTE: This is most important when you are working in a program like Photoshop. The nice thing about vector graphics in Illustrator is that they can scale up or down without quality loss. But, it's just easier (and best practice) to make sure your document size is correct before starting a project.


Color Modes

There are two primary color modes used in digital art: RGB + CMYK. It's important to understand the difference and set your file up correctly (again, depending on the output).

RGB = Red, Green, Blue and is a screen color mode.

  • RGB is used with electronic screens (computers, mobile devices, TV, etc.)
  • Often has more vivid colors and a greater range.
  • Always start with RGB, then convert to CMYK (for printing) if necessary.

CMYK = Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Key (black) is a print color mode.

  • Named for the ink used on offset printing presses. 
  • Every color is built from a mix of these 4.
  • Only use when printing. Converting to CMYK often increases file size and colors can appear less vibrant.