Vector art is a type of image file created using vector illustration software such as Adobe Illustrator. This type of software uses mathematic equations and geometric primitives (shapes, lines and points) to make smooth images that can be scaled up or down without losing quality to pixilation like with the other type of image file called a raster graphic. When using a CNC router you need vector art so that the programs in your machine will have a perfectly clear image to work with. To tell whether or not you have a vector art file start by seeing what type of file your image is. Certain file extensions are very common, especially those used by Adobe Illustrator since that is one of the most common programs for creating vector art images.

The four most common vector art file extensions are .ai, .pdf, .eps and .svg. A file saved to one of these formats is not always vector art, even though the extensions are a good indicator. You cannot open a raster file in a software program that creates vector art and resave it as a vector image. It will still act like a raster file with pixilation occurring when you change the image’s size. Only files created in a vector art program are true vector art images. It is possible to use the image trace feature in Adobe Illustrator to make a raster graphic into a vector art graphic. You might also find that other vector illustration software is capable of something similar but it will depend on what software you are using.

With a little Internet searching you can try to find a tutorial on how your program can do this, if it can do it at all. To be absolutely certain that your image is a vector art file the easiest thing to do is to open the file in a vector editing program. If you see a series of lines with nodes in the image those are the vector editing nodes and that means your file is vector art. If you do not have vector editing software it may be worth it to find someone who does and get their help checking your images.

There could be a time when you have a file that is a raster graphic but you need it as a vector art file. In this case you have a few options to get what you need if you cannot alter the image yourself. If someone created the image for you contact them and ask for the vector files. There are also online options for turning regular images into vector art. Many of these programs are free to use and can be found by typing “image to vector art” into any search engine. The quality of these free services may vary. Also keep in mind that they are not as skilled as a person designing an image so you probably will not be able to convert images that are too detailed on most of the websites but for something basic like some text or a picture of a logo these might be a fast and easy solution for your needs.

Alternatively your only option may be to redesign the art yourself as a vector file or to hire a graphic designer who can do that for you. If you need to hire a graphic designer make sure you find someone who can get the finished files to you as a vector file (and preferably as a raster file as well). Find someone who can do both and do not be worried about not being able to find anyone, there are a lot of graphic designers out there. There are a few options open to you and with a little creativity you should be able to get what you need.