Vector Art of the Public Domain

Digital art isn’t just about the pixels. Infinitely scalable art exists too, perfect for billboard advertising. Let’s learn about vectors and vector art.

Apperson Automobile Car Vector
Apperson Car Vector (1920)
Apperson Automobile Car Vector
Detail of Apperson Car Vector (1920)

Rasters and Vectors

If you have browsed our illustrations you have come across many raster images, composed of pixels. Raster images account for the majority of digital images, not only on this website but in general. Common image formats such as JPG, GIF and PNG are all raster formats. Raster images store information about the position and color of each pixel in the image. Since images may contain millions of pixels and colors, raster images are often large file sizes. One issue with raster images is that even the highest quality raster images can become pixelated if stretched to extreme dimensions. While an image might print beautifully as a postcard, it might not look good at all if stretched to a larger size.

The solution that designers use is to work with vectors. Instead of using pixels, vectors are much like a connect-the-dots drawing, composed of paths. Vector images use mathematical equations, lines and curves to create an image without the need for any pixels. Since paths are scalable, vector images can be adjusted to ANY size without losing quality. In fact, with vector images a billboard sized image of a car from the 1920s is as easy to create as a postcard.

Browse our Vector Art

With this in mind we have been busy converting many of our restored public domain illustrations into vector images. Our vector files are in SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics) format and can be resized freely.

There are now over a thousand illustrations completed, and we even created a few collections.

Happy designing!

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