Photoshop : Destructive VS Non destructive editing (Rasters and Vectors talk)


Non destructive VS destructive editing

           We’ve all heard of it, destructive and non- destructive. What it means exactly still confuses some people, so lets get to the bottom of it.

 Destructive Editing

          When someone hears destructive editing they get scared and wonder why would I want to “destroy” my photo? But the term destructive editing doesn’t mean you are destroying your image. It simply means that whatever changes you make to the photo, like contrast or brightness and etc, saves permanently to the original file. Once you save that file there’s no undoing to go back. Photoshop is a destructive editing software, but you can do some non-destructive editing on there with some of Photoshop’s tools.

Non destructive Editing

           With non destructive editing you are essentially making your edits to a copy of the original photo. With a non-destructive work flow you can easily make multiple edits of the same image if you are indecisive on what you want the end product to look like. If you are absolutely sure of what you want you can go ahead and have a destructive workflow, or you can keep it safe and go the non destructive route.

          So if Photoshop is a destructive editing software, how can you make non destructive edits? Simple. There are actually multiple different ways to achieve this, so whichever sticks out to you is fine.

  • Adjustments layers apply adjustments to an image without permanently changing pixel values on a separate layer.
  • Transforming the image to a Smart object enables non destructive scaling, rotating and warping techniques.
  • Smart filters applied to smart objects make your filters non destructive.
  • Retouching on a separate layer rather than your original to use the Clone stamp, healing brush and spot healing tools.
  • Editing in Camera Raw.
  • Masking lets you mask out the effects without losing pixel information, which you can always go back into your mask and change it.

I took a photo of my sister’s guitar and thought ” I wonder what this will look like in black and white?” So I took it into Photoshop and began. Now there are many ways to edit a photo, and like we just talked about there is a destructive and non destructive way to make this edit. In the first picture you see I made a non destructive edit by adding an adjustment layer to my photo to turn it into black and white. I can save this image as a Photoshop file and later decide that I want to delete that and bring back its original color. In the photo right below I made a destructive edit. Once that file is saved there’s no going back, it’s black and white forever.


non destructivedestructive editing

Raster Graphics & Vector Graphics

           There are two types of graphic files – Raster and Vectors. A raster image is made up of pixels, each a different color, arranged to display an image whereas a vector image is made up of paths, each with a mathematical formula that tells the path how it is shaped and what color it is. The difference between them can confuse a newbie designer, so lets easily define the both in more detail.

Vector Graphics Pros and Cons


  • Scalable to any size without pixelation or quality loss
  • Easy to edit and re-edit
  • No Image distortion
  • Smaller file size
  • Ideal for detailed illustrations
  • Look great in print
  • Graphics are more aesthetically pleasing
  • Good for animation and presentations


  • Thin lines in vector images may disappear if reduced too much
  • Time consuming and needs a bit of talent
  • Some effects like blurring cannot be applied
  • Sacrifices realism for illustration

Raster Graphics Pros and Cons


  • No compression
  • Includes all the data of the image
  • Great for creating rich and detailed images with lots of color
  • Compatible with most programs


  • Cannot be scaled up in size very well
  • File sizes are often larger
  • Doesn’t work well for embroidery



Raster images are primarily used with photos, which is why Photoshop is a raster editing program. Adobe Illustrator, on the other hand, is a vector drawing program that automatically creates your vector formulas as you draw. As you can see in the above images, when zoomed into a raster graphic you can see the square pixels that make up the whole. It is that reason exactly why raster graphics do not scale up nicely, leaving you with a closer look to what is making up the image. Now when you zoom into a vector graphic you see that it still looks beautiful. Because of that things like logos, letterheads and other graphic elements are best created as a vector. If you’re still confused on which you should create, look at the product you are creating. Photography is best in raster graphics because of the more color options you’ll get whereas if you want to draw something from scratch with few colors you should go ahead and pick vector.

Photo by Glenn Carstens – Peters ..


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