Vector art technique
Vector Art is a technique, which means art created using vector-based programs. Vector art basically uses points, lines, and curves. Vector programs take note of the relationship between these elements. This allows the images created to vary their scale without losing quality or becoming pixelated. By comparison, pixels lose quality when raised above 100% of their size.
Popular vector programs are Illustrator, Freehand, Corel Draw, and Flash. Almost everything created with these programs is considered vector work. I say “almost” because there are exceptions to every rule. If your vector work combines vector images with raster images, I’m afraid it’s no longer a vector work (and therefore doesn’t belong in the Vector Gallery).
For example: to finish your vector work, you think your work is missing something, and you put it into Photoshop to give it a little texture, trying to complete it more. At that point it is no longer a vector work, and you will need to upload it to “Digital Art > Mixed Media”. In the same way, if you took the raster texture and put it into Illustrator by applying a layer style, it wouldn’t be vector work either.
Since this texture cannot be increased by more than 100%, it makes your vector technically useless after raster images at original size. Don’t even think that you can’t add textures to your vector work. Many of these programs come equipped with detailed pattern swatches, textured brushes, even “Live Trace” which, as the name implies, traces raster images and converts them to vector graphics.
To reiterate and ensure there is no confusion, here is a list of programs generally considered to be raster-based: Photoshop, Painter, MS Paint, and a great free alternative, Gimp. Basically, everything created with this program is considered a raster image. Some of these programs can create images with points, lines, and curves, just like a vector program would.
Photoshop itself can make vector-based images, however, they are often considered “vexel” because vexel artists often include brushstrokes in their images (for hair, etc.).
Speaking of brushes. Just because you’ve downloaded and installed a set of brushes for Photoshop (or any other raster imaging program) that has the word “vector” in its title, does NOT mean your work is vector. These brushes come in various sizes, and no matter what resolution you apply them to, they can never be increased above 100% size without losing quality.
In a nutshell, Vector is not a style like Anime, but it is a medium like Charcoal. Asking what vector art is like is like asking what oil paintings are like. It may look like Rembrandt, Picasso, or a fifth grader’s finger painting.