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Should the icons be developed in bitmap or vector format?

A bitmap icon (like GIF, PNG, TIFF, etc.) consists of pixel-based graphic information. Pixels (constriction for "picture element") are those smallest dots of color that your computer screen is made up of. An icon sized 24x24 pixels representing a red square would be comprised of 576 individual pixels, each represented by small bits of numeric data in an image file. A bigger icon will contain more pixels, causing more binary information, and thus a larger file size.
A vector graphic file (such as EPS, SVG, etc.) consists of geometric information. A vector image file picturing a red square sized to 24x24 pixels would simply contain numeric information regarding the mathematical position of the square's four corners, information about the color the square is filled with, and information defining the size of the square as 24x24 pixels on the monitor. That means our red square vector file only requires about six tiny bits of information as opposed to our 576 bits of data required for our bitmap red square.
In reality, the explanation is a bit more complicated than it's described, but you see the basics: Modifying the size of a vector graphic file from 24x24 to 48x48 only takes the alteration of one bit of information (the dimensions). The math does the rest. However, changing the size of a bitmap image file from 24x24 requires the addition of 1728 more pixels, resulting in a larger file size.
That means one vector file may be used to represent it's image at numerous sizes, whereas a bitmap image may only accurately represent its only pre-defined pixel size.
So if a vector file can change size to represent any size it needs, why do the graphic desigers use bitmap format for their creations?
If you look at the same icon, crafted in both bitmap and vector formats, you will notice that the bitmap one is clear and smooth, with even the thinnest lines sharply defined. While all the icons that had been resized from the vector file look blurry.
This happens because, although vector files can be resized, there is a weakness in them This flaw is more apparent at small sizes. Especially resolutions under 48x48 pixels. The weakness is that computer monitors still consist of pixels, which means they ae bitmap-based.
When you take a vector file, initially sized at 24x24 and shrink it down to 16x16, the relative proportions change. There's no chance you can evenly arrange 24 pixels of information into 16 pixels of space because, there's no such thing as half a pixel. So the image blurs.
There's also no way you can evenly scale 24 pixels of data upwards into 32 pixels of space. Again, the image blurs.
Even more, if you have that same vector file, initially sized at 24x24 and size it up to 48x48, you're now doubling the proportions. You no longer have sharp 1-pixel lines. You have chunky 2-pixel lines. Size it up bigger (say to 96x96) and those lines become even thicker.
There are a few caveats: First, if you're working with larger icon sizes (for example, bigger then 48x48) you're not going to notice the difference as dramatically, and you may find the results acceptable. Second, your mileage will differ as you create various styles of artwork. The less-detailed your image is, the less you have to worry about vector rescaling.

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