Updated: Apr 10, 2022
When you are updating your website, preparing print materials, or posting to social media, you might get overwhelmed by all the different file types. Each platform has different requirements, and each file type serves a different purpose. This can be very confusing, but I am here to help.
I felt compelled to write this blog because I see so many clients unable to express their needs to their graphic designer, or in other cases, designers delivering a subpar product. I want to give you the information and confidence to go into any design process, knowing the differences in formats and how to clearly convey your needs to your designer.
A logo should always be an EPS or AI file created in Adobe Illustrator. An eps file is the gold standard for your logo files. It is a vector-based image, when exported from Adobe Illustrator, and is meant for print usage. This means an eps file can be sized up or down without deteriorating the image quality.
Raster vs Vector Images
Raster and Vector images differ in resolution. Raster images are made up of pixels, where each is assigned a certain color. This characteristic causes blurry and pixelated images when the Raster image is expanded. Raster images are perfect for photographs and most social media.
Vector images can be resized infinitely without losing their clarity and sharpness. Vector images are based on a mathematical equation that no matter how big or small you make the image; the curves and the lines will remain smooth. Vectors images are suited to technical drawings, illustrations, and icons. Standard raster files are JPEG, PNG, and GIF.
EPS stands for “Encapsulated PostScript” file which is a vector-based file that is designed to create high-resolution graphics best used in print. EPS files are universal and can be created in a variety of programs, unlike AI formats which require specific adobe software. Basically, instead of storing your logo as one image, it stores it as a mathematical equation made up of lines, curves, and joints that create different geometric shapes.
An AI file is a file created in Adobe Illustrator. It is a single-page vector-based graphic file. AI files are best used to create logos and printed assets. An advantage to AI files is that they can be infinitely resized without losing quality. Additionally, AI files can be saved or exported in many different formats too, virtually every format mentioned in this blog. However, AI files can be hard to share and edit if you do not have Adobe Illustrator.
JPEG vs PNG
JPEGs will most usually be seen as photos or email graphics. JPEG is a Raster image and stands for Joint Photographic Experts Group. Because JPEG compresses the file so much, the result can be very pixelated when expanded. That's why photos get blurry when you blow them up.
This size reduction can be beneficial in many ways. They can be quickly shared with a client for a preview or can be used for web images that need to download quickly. They also work well for editing and printing. JPEG files have limitations as they are flat images, and all the edits get saved into one layer. JPEGS have no transparency channel and must have solid backgrounds.
PNG stands for “Portable Network Graphics.” They were designed to be an alternative to JPEGs because they support transparency whereas the former does not. PNGs allow for an icon to have a transparent background as opposed to an uneditable white background.
“PNG file compression is lossless, so there is no loss in quality, giving them the ability to handle detailed, sharp contrast information.” PNGs work best on the web and are crucial to producing files that JPEGs cannot functionally create.
A GIF is an image format that retains all its information during compression and supports both animated and static images. An acronym for “Graphics Interchange Format,” GIFs are an image file that are sometimes animated and sometimes static. GIF’s mostly shine online where images need to be downloaded quickly, these include digital banner ads, websites, or emails. Most GIFs retain their most basic form of 256 colors in RGB, allowing for smaller file sizes, and quicker loading due to their limited color range.
A PDF is a “Portable Document Format” which is an electronic image that can feature text, images, and graphics. They excel both in print and digitally. PDFs have a vector foundation but can also display raster graphics. PDFs are great for logo previews and can be viewed without editing software.
Now with this knowledge, you should be able to go into your graphic design process with confidence and express your wishes clearly to your graphic designer. Let me know in the comments if I have missed anything or if there is anything you feel should be added. Follow for more!
*Please note I am not promoting or receiving any kind of compensation from Adobe for mentioning them. Adobe Creative Suite programs are the programs REAL Graphic Designers use.
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