Have you ever wondered why there are so many image file types? If you don’t need to think about graphic design, you’re probably only aware of two or three. But the different types aren’t just self-indulgent.
For a start, digital images are divided in raster and vector image files. Very briefly, raster files are constructed using pixels and, while this makes them easier to handle, resizing will affect their resolution. Vector files, on the other hand, are based on proportional formulas, which enables them to be resized to whatever dimensions you need without any compromise in resolution.
Here are ten of the best graphic file types available.
JPEG (or JPG) – Joint Photographic Experts Group
Perhaps the best-known type of graphic file, the JPEG or JPG (both used as alternative extensions) is convenient to use for either web-based images or high-resolution printing. As a raster type, it’s vital to get the resolution right, but if you do it’s a very versatile file type.
PNG – Portable Network Graphics
PNGs are for the web only, as they don’t print well. They’re particularly useful for web projects, as they can handle a lot of colours on a transparent background and don’t degrade when you downsize the file.
GIF – Graphics Interchange Format
Besides the ubiquitous animated GIFs, this format is also useful for still web images that need to load quickly. The downside is that, because the files are very small, the number of colours available is limited.
TIFF – Tagged Image File
In complete contract, a TIFF is a very high-quality but extremely large file that takes a long time to load, making it unsuitable for a website. However, TIFFs can be compressed without any loss of quality and are frequently used to save photos for print.
PSD – Photoshop Document
If you use Adobe Photoshop, this is the type of file you’ll be working with. It’s designed in layers, making it far easier to manipulate the images. However, it can only be used to produce raster file types and is no good if you want to generate vector images.
PDF – Portable Document Format
Another file type created by Adobe, PDFs can be used to access images, text or a combination via any computer or operating system. A PDF is particularly useful for editing your image without the limitations of a PSD.
EPS – Encapsulated Postscript
EPS is a vector format that can be opened in any design editor, whether it’s Adobe, Quark or Corel Draw. This makes it an extremely flexible file type that can produce high-resolution print files.
AI – Adobe Illustrator Document
AI is the file type used by most designers to create artwork from scratch. It produces vector images, making it suitable for both online and print use, and can be exported as most other file types.
INDD – Adobe InDesign Document
INDDs are the files used by Adobe InDesign, which can draw content from Photoshop and Illustrator to produce high-quality eBooks, newspapers, magazines or other large publications. They can combine text, embedded images and much other content.
RAW – Raw Image Formats
When you take a photo, it will be initially saved as one of several RAW types (e.g. CR2, PEF, NEF, CRW) which will capture every detail. However, as the name suggests, a RAW file must be converted to one of the other file types before it can be edited, printed or used online.
This is just a quick outline of how the most common image file types can be used. Get in touch with us to learn more.