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The key to spontaneous and directed assembly is to encode the desired assembly information to building blocks in a programmable and efficient way. In computer graphics, raster graphics encodes images on a single-pixel level, conferring fine details at the expense of large file sizes, whereas vector graphics encrypts shape information into vectors that allow small file sizes and operational transformations. Here, we adapt this raster/vector concept to a 2D colloidal system and realize 'vector assembly' by manipulating particles on a colloidal monolayer substrate with optical tweezers. In contrast to raster assembly that assigns optical tweezers to each particle, vector assembly requires a minimal number of optical tweezers that allow operations like chain elongation and shortening. This vector approach enables simple uniform particles to form a vast collection of colloidal arenes and colloidenes, the spontaneous dissociation of which is achieved with precision and stage-by-stage complexity by simply removing the optical tweezers.