Graphics software is used to create images and to edit and convert graphic files of different formats. Most products are categorized by function. Common types of graphics software include page layout, word processing, and desktop publishing applications; professional illustration and presentation software; and digital printing and Web publishing programs. Graphics software handles two basic types of images: raster graphics and vector graphics.
Raster graphics are formed by a matrix of pixels. Raster software is graphics software used to create, enhance, or modify raster graphics. Common raster graphic file formats include BMP (bitmap), JPEG (Joint Photographic Experts Group), TIFF (tagged image file format), and GIF (graphic interchange format). BMPs or bitmaps are resolution-dependent and support 24-bit color. JPEGs are compressed and sacrifice image quality in exchange for a reduction in image size. TIFFs are used with high-resolution images. GIFs display up to 256 colors, feature built-in compression, and work with most web browsers.
Vector graphics are used in applications designed to perform digital diagramming or computer-aided design (CAD). In simplest terms, vector graphic software is graphics software used to create, enhance and modify graphics that represent digital images as a collection of geographic entities (i.e. points, lines, and shapes). Examples of vector graphic file formats are DXF (data exchange format) and WMF (Windows meta-file).
Graphics software often includes graphics converters. Typically, raster software cannot read the format of a vector graphic, and vice versa. A vector to raster converter uses a raster image processor to mathematically transform a vector graphic into a bitmapped file based on the location of its entities. Conversely, a raster to vector converter is capable of using software and hardware technologies to re-image photographs, drawings, or paintings into vector graphics. Some image editors can animate scalable vector graphics (SVG) using object-based editing software. The principle is similar in all graphics software applications in that some portion of an SVG image is treated as a single entity rather than as a series of pixels.