Define: Bitmap & Raster Images

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Bitmap Images or Raster Images

The words Bitmap and Raster both refer to images made up of dots of colour. To make things easier I will stick to the term Bitmap.

Broadly speaking there are two types of computer image files. They are Bitmap and Vector. Photographic types of images (such as Jpeg) tend to be Bitmap and graphic types of images tend to tend Vector.

Zoom in and you can see the individual squares or pixels of colour.

Bitmap images are good at storing textures which is why photos use this method.

There are many bitmap file formats: JPEG, PNG, GIF, BMP, TIFF, PSD etc.

To make Bitmap images you can use a digital camera, scanner or programs like Adobe PhotoShop, Adobe Fireworks, Microsoft Paint or Corel's Paint Shop Pro.

Alternative Meaning: The Word Bitmap (not Raster) also refers to images that have only two colours in the image, usually Black & White. There is be no gray or in-between colours.

A Bitmap Image.

Zoom into a Bitmap image and you will see the individual pixels:

There are only Black and White pixels.

Note: Although it is confusing to have one word which has two very specific but similar meanings, thankfully they are used in different circumstances. The first Bitmap definition is a general computer term but these black and white Bitmap images are used in the printing industry. Standard commercial printing presses are not capable of printing gradations of colour so these black & white Bitmaps are used when creating Printing Plates for printing colours. This is because either there is ink in a particular location or there is not.


Definition: Images that do not have textures such as logos are better as: Vector Images

Cross Ref: Tutorial - Pictures for the web


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