I have been talking with a company that produces silkscreen T-Shirts.  They require the graphics in a particular file format called Vector graphics.  It appears that all graphics aren’t created equal.  The kind of graphics we see and think about every day are GIF (Graphics Interchange Format), PNG (Portable Network Graphics) and JPG or JPEG (Joint Photographic Experts Group).  All of these graphic formats are raster based or arrays of pixels.  Raster graphics are dependent on their resolution.  In other words, they don’t scale very well.  When you try to enlarge them image becomes grainy and pixelated.

Vector graphics on the other hand are based on a set of primitive drawing instructions.  The instructions are directions on where and how to draw lines, arcs, points and polygons.  The result is a very sharp scalable image.  No pixelation occurs as the image is increased in size.

Among the applications that generate these types of graphics are Adobe Illustrator, CorelDRAW, Macromedia Freehand.  The problem with these applications is they are very expensive.  I know I couldn’t justify the expense of buying one of these applications for just a few uses.

The challenge is to find software that is affordable that will produce the Vector-based image files the printer needs for his software.  I tried several different free products. They worked okay and produced the image I wanted, but they didn’t produce the file format I needed.  One of the products was relatively new.  Unfortunately, the help was pretty non-existent.  I sent an email, but haven’t received a response yet.

Just about the time I had given up hope of finding free software that would meet my needs, I revisited the Open Office Suite.  Specifically, a program called OpenOffice.org draw.  The version I used was 3.1.1.  As far as I know, the file I was trying to generate the EPS (Embedded Post Script) format was produced correctly by OpenOffice.Org draw.  I was able to read the EPS file using another program that could read EPS files.

Just like my embroidered shirt challenge many months ago, this was an educational experience for me.  In the future, if I need to produce Vector based graphics, I know exactly which program I will try first.