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raster graphics

Raster graphics are digital images created or captured (for example, by scanning in a photo) as a set of samples of a given space. A raster is a grid of X and Y coordinates on a display space. (And for three-dimensional images, a z coordinate.) A raster image file identifies which of these coordinates to illuminate in monochrome or color values. The raster file is sometimes referred to as a bitmap because it contains information that is directly mapped to the display grid.

A raster file is usually larger than a vector graphics image file. A raster file is usually difficult to modify without loss of information, although there are software tools that can convert a raster file into a vector file for refinement and changes. Examples of raster image file types are: BMP, TIFF, GIF, and JPEG files.

This was last updated in August 2014

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