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your guide to image formats - jpg, gif, png, tif, eps

yourguidetoimageformats

Have you always wondered what the difference is between a JPG, GIF or PNG file? Are you unsure as to what an EPS file is or don’t understand why the format of your logo on your website is different to the logo you need to print? As a business owner or marketer for a business, understanding the different image file types is essential to ensuring your brand is always represented correctly and also helps you better communicate with designers, developers and printers.

Let’s start by discussing the difference the two main file types: VECTOR and RASTER.

VECTOR VS RASTER
Raster images consist of a series of pixels or individual building blocks which combine to form a complete image. JPEGs, GIFs and PNGs are all common raster image types. Images found online or in printed format are raster images.

As raster images are constructed using a fixed number of pixels, if they are resized to fit a space they were not designed to fill, the image distorts, resulting in blurry or unclear images. It’s important that raster files are saved at the exact dimension and size needed for the application, or larger, to avoid these issues.

Vector images, however, are far more flexible. As they are constructed using proportional formulas rather than individual pixels, they are perfect for artwork that often need resizing. Your logo should be created as a vector file as it can then be used in any format for your business. Whether you need to print a business card or a billboard, the file can be resized without compromising the quality of the image. From your vector file, you can create JPG or PNG files for use on the web.

HIGH RESOLUTION VS LOW RESOLUTION

The resolution of your image will determine how you can use it effectively. The resolution refers to the pixel density of an image and can be referred to as dots per inch (DPI) or pixels per inch (PPI). These measurements are important depending on if you need the image for web or print. Read more in our blog titled “images – what is dpi, ppi & resolution”.

IMAGE FILE EXTENSION TYPES

JPG - (or JPEG) stands for Joint Photographic Group and is a raster format often used for photographs on the web. JPEG files are web friendly because the files are typically smaller. The downside to JPEGs is that the original quality of the image is decreased as it discards digital information through compression to keep the image size small. This can become problematic when using JPGs for high quality printing. What it means is the image will not look as sharp and is less defined. If using JPEG files for print, it’s important to pay attention to the resolution and file size for the file to print well. Read more here about “images – what is dpi, ppi & resolution”. A JPEG cannot contain a transparent background so is always rectangular or square in shape with a solid background.

GIF – stands for Graphics Interchange Format. GIFs are most suitable for graphics, diagrams, cartoons and animation effects. They have an extremely limited colour range suitable for the web and are not recommended for print. Like JPEGs, the format compresses images but no details are lost in the process. While still widely used, the format is considered outdated as web designers tend to favour PNG format instead.

PNG – stands for Portable Network Graphics and is another raster image type. The main difference between a PNG and a JPG is that a PNG file can have a transparent background and is generally larger and of higher quality. PNGs are great for interactive documents such as web pages but are not suitable for print. The reason PNGs are used for web is so you can save your image with more colours on a transparent background which make for a sharper, higher quality web image.

TIF – (or TIFF) stands for Tagged Image File Format and is a large raster file. A TIF file is primarily used for images in printing as the file does not lose information or quality like a JPEG does. TIF files are not recommended for online use, due to size and load time. You should use smaller images such as JPG or PNG.

EPS – stands for Encapsulated Postscript. It is a vector based file which can contain text as well as graphics and illustrations. As the file is vector it can be easily resized for any requirement and can be edited using vector based software such as Adobe Illustrator.

PROGRAM FILE EXTENSION TYPES

PSD – stands for Photoshop Document. PSDs are files that are created and saved in Adobe Photoshop. Photoshop is raster graphics editing software, used to manipulate and enhance images to improve or change their appearance. It can also be used to create raster artwork and illustration. Photoshop files can have transparent backgrounds and layers which can be turned on or off.

AI – stands for Adobe Illustrator. An AI file can be opened and edited with Adobe Illustrator, a vector based program great for creating logos, illustrations, backgrounds and other graphic and typographic elements for print. Illustrator files can be easily manipulated using a variety of tools. You can also create editable EPS and PDF files from an AI file, along with the other file types mentioned here today.

INDD - stands for InDesign Document. INDD files have been created and saved in Adobe Indesign, a layout application for creating anything from business cards, flyers and brochures through to much larger publications like newspapers, magazines and books.

PDF – stands for Portable Document Format. PDF was created by Adobe as a way to capture and review information from any application, on any computer. It captures the elements of a document as an image that can be viewed and printed by someone else. PDF press quality files are the preferred format for commercial print presses. Once a designer has completed the print layout in a program such as Adobe Indesign, the file can be exported to PDF. Done correctly, the PDF will then contain all the font, graphic, colour and other essential information required to ensure a smooth print process and a great printed result.

The world of graphic design and images is certainly a lot more complicated than at first glance. While this guide gives a better understanding of certain file types, it’s always a good idea to have an experienced graphic designer on hand to ensure you have the expertise needed to make your next project great! If there is one thing to take away from this blog today, it is to ensure you have a vector (EPS/AI) version of your logo. If not, contact your original designer, or touch base with The Print Group to help.