Vector art is a digital graphics format most often associated with Adobe Illustrator. Vector art differs from Pixel based art in that it describes an object as points and paths rather than using individual squares (pixels) to describe the image. Vector art is resolution independent and scalable. For example vector art generated for a postage stamp could be scaled to fill the size of a billboard without losing any quality, whereas pixel-based art would become pixelated or blurred. While often associated with flat coloured imagery, vector art can be created to look incredibly photorealistic and dimensional.
This article in Smashing Magazine links to an enormous collection of beautiful Vector art.
Pixel-based images, also referred to as Raster graphics or Bitmaps a made up of small squares or dots known as pixels. A pixel (pixel-element) is the smallest editable element in a pixel-based image. A pixel-based image may be stored as a number of file formats such as a jpeg, png, gif, tiff or psd. Unlike Vector based imagery, pixel-based imagery is resolution dependent and can not be scaled up without loosing quality. Resolution is typically measured by the number of pixels per inch (ppi). The higher the number of pixels per inch the higher the image quality will be and the larger the file size will become. Each pixel in an image has a position on the document and an RGB value. By altering the RGB values and positions of various pixels in an image using a pixel editing program such as Adobe Photoshop, we can retouch and alter an image in a vast variety of ways. All digital photographs are pixel-based as are the majority of of images within a web page.