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R is for ... Design Terms Glossary

Non-designers Essential Glossary of Design Terms

Every industry, business and profession has its own language and that language can leave you feeling confused and result in lots of misunderstandings.  We thought you might find our Design Terms Glossary useful whether you are using the training in our Members’ section or dealing with a graphic designer directly.

Rasterized Images

Rasterized Images


Vector vs RasterWhen a smooth edged Vector image or a photograph is saved into a bitmap format (eg. PNG, Jpeg, Tiff) the image is rasterized.

This basically means that the colours and shapes need to be saved as pixels or dots instead to comply with the new file type.

Because the rasterized file will have lower quality resolution than the vector file, sometimes subtleties such as shading can appear altered. Saving at a higher resolution (eg. 300 dpi/ppi or above) will minimise this risk but your file size will be larger as a result.

NOTE: Rasterization is a one way process, so always save your original as a SVG (Scalable Vector Graphic) file too.






In graphic design and printing, resolution refers to the saved quality of the image or photograph.

Vector images have 100% resolution as they are not pixelated and so these are the best quality images to use if you can.

However images drawn on non-vector software (eg. Publisher or Power Point) are only able to be saved as bitmaps or rasterized images and this results in pixels of colour replacing the smooth shapes of vector files.

The higher the resolution you save at the better quality the image will be, so 300 DPI/PPI (dots per inch / pixels per inch) is better than 170 DPI/PPI.

Photographs are usually stored as Jpegs with high resolution because photographs are not suitable for saving as vector files but, again, the higher the resolution the better the reproduction of the image will be.

NOTE: Once a vector file or photograph has been rasterized or saved as a bitmap it is irreversible, so always keep a copy of your images in their original non-pixelated formats as well.

High resolution vs. low resoultion image


Royalty Free

Royalty Free



Sorry, but ‘Royalty Free’ does NOT mean free.

It actually means that the owner of the image or photograph sells the rights to use an image to you for a ‘one-off’ fee – you then can use it according to the seller’s terms and conditions.

You do NOT then own the image or photograph and the seller can sell it over and over again.

Note: It is illegal to copy and paste images off the internet unless the owner has given you permission to do so, and using royalty free images (especially for business purposes) without paying for them is theft.

Do check out who owns the images you are using – even down to your logo (if you had it designed for you, technically the designer own it – not you). Take a look at the information on the Intellectual Property Office

Also worth noting is that a program called TinEye does ‘reverse image searches’ – making it easy for anyone to see who actually owns an image posted on the internet.

If you feel you might be accidentally using a ‘not-free’ image, it might be worth checking on TinEye before someone else does!

Rule (Keylines)

Rule (Keyline)



Keylines (Rules) diagramA rule (sometimes called a keyline)  is a non-printable line, visible on the screen only, that enables the designer to make sure items are lined up properly on a page.

They can be set up in most graphic design software packages to form grids enabling the precise placement of elements within a design, thus maintaining brand continuity and accuracy.


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