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File Types In Graphic Design: Complete Breakdown


File Types In Graphic Design: Complete Breakdown

Have you ever had a wave of confusion over when a designer asks, “Can you please supply your company logo as a vector file?” Or maybe they need a .PNG file for your website’s header image.

What is a vector file? And why does Papua New Guinea have a file-type?


As a graphic designer, it is extremely important to use the correct file-types for specific applications. Having the incorrect file-type could potentially lessen the desired look you were hoping for. To help prevent confusion we have put together a go-to list of design file-types that will fill you with confidence and help you understand the difference between a vector and Papua New Guinea file, I mean .PNG file. File types are also known as file extension.


Table Of Contents







Understanding the distinctions among different file types will help you correctly save, send, and manage every digital project you work on. Unless you’re a designer, you’ve probably never worked with a .PSD or an .INDD file, but that doesn’t mean you never will. This guide will help clear up the misunderstandings you might have about file types and maybe introduce you to a brand new one along the way.

 

RASTER FILE VS VECTOR FILE


Before diving into the different file types you might encounter, it’s important to know the distinction between a vector and a raster. Raster images are made up of pixels, or blocks of colors, to form an image. The pixels have a defined size depending on the resolution of your image.


Raster graphics vs Vector graphics complete breakdown

If you try to make an image with a very low resolution into a very high resolution, the pixels will stretch and become distorted. It is impossible to resize raster images without compromising their resolution as they are already compressed. To prevent this, save your raster files at the exact same dimensions needed for your project. JPEGs, GIFs, and PNGs are all raster-supporting file types. Vector images resolve this issue.





They are far more flexible and are constructed with proportional formulas instead of pixels. Your logo was most likely created in a vector program, like Adobe Illustrator or CorelDraw. A vector image can be stretched or shrunk as much as you like—without looking pixelated and without compromising the resolution. EPS, AI, and PDF are all vector-supporting file types.

 

RASTER FILES


Raster Image files are compressed, these files are ‘Pixel based’ meaning the resolution and the quality of the file is limited. Using a JPEG or PNG logo image will not be able to be scaled to huge billboards or posters. This is because they are built up in pixels, meaning once you begin to stretch these images to larger scales the pixels are stretched themselves. This results in a pixelated image.


Raster Image File

1. Joint Photographic Experts Group (JPG)


Used For:

  • File choice for banner ad publishers

  • Medium and low resolution web-use

  • Proofing and sharing work-in-progress design work with clients

Handy To Know:

  • Quick load time for web

  • Photos are compressed and smaller in size

Constraints:

  • Does not support background transparency

  • Does not retain its quality when rescaled

  • Flat image that is non-editable

2. Portable Network Graphics (PNG)


Used For:

  • Transferring images on the internet

  • High quality web images

Handy To Know:

  • Files can be created with transparent backgrounds (great for company logos and icons)

  • Compressed file sizes allow for quick load times

  • Displays crisp and clean on digital applications

Constraints:

  • Not ideal for printing

  • Cannot be scaled over its pixel width

  • Flat image that is not easily editable


3. Graphics Interchange Format (GIF)


Used For:

  • Web animations

  • Social Media Memes

  • Short inaudible clips

Handy To Know:

  • Files can be created with transparent backgrounds

  • Perfect for emails and web graphics

  • File size is small

Constraints:

  • GIF files are low resolution

  • Support only 256 colors

4. Tagged Image File Format (TIFF)


Used For:

  • Commonly used in the photography sector

  • If you’re printing large photos – use this format

  • Storing large documents

Handy To know:

  • Largest raster file type

  • Reliable and never lose quality

  • Use them for saving photographs for print

  • Scans high quality documents

Constraints:

  • Never use this file type for saving web graphics

  • Take more time to load

  • Takes more space

5. RAW - Unprocessed data from digital camera


Used For:

  • Used by photographers and design professionals.

  • Store all the unprocessed and processed data from an image captured with a digital camera

  • RAW file allows the image to be in the absolute most highest quality

Handy To Know:

  • They are high quality and have high resolution

  • They are very large

  • Best used when shooting and editing photos

  • Make sure to save as a JPEG or TIFF when exporting

Constraints:

  • Most print companies won’t accept RAW files to send to print.

6. Bitmap Image File (BMP)


Used For:

  • Contains uncompressed data and displaying high-quality digital images

  • Store bitmap digital images and independently of the display device

  • Best for creating 3D UV texture maps

Handy To Know:

  • Creates lossless image quality

  • Allows open and re-save the image without degrading the integrity

Constraints:

  • Does not support background transparency

  • Not recommended for photographs, static graphics and animated graphics

  • Lack of compression generally creates larger file sizes


7. Photoshop Document (PSD)


Used For:

  • Primarily used to create and edit raster images not vectors

  • PSD Files are purely the original editable photoshop files

  • PSD files can be created and opened only with Adobe Photoshop

Handy To Know:

  • This file type allows for transparency and multiple layers

  • Photoshop is able to export a PSD file into a wide range of file types, including JPGs, PNGs, and PDFs

  • Can resize any image to fit whichever project you’re working on.

  • Vector layers can be contained in a Photoshop file

  • All Photoshop files can be exported in all the above raster formats.

  • You should use PSD files when retouching photos, editing digital artwork, creating web images and creating frame animations or videos.

Constraints:

  • Photoshop is a prerequisite

  • Large storage capacity due to layers

 

VECTOR FILES


All the logos we create are vectors, this is because they are made up of points, lines and curves that are based on mathematical equations rather than pixels like raster images. This means that no matter how large or small you make the vector or how close you zoom in all them lines, curves and points stay pristine and smooth. Logos need to be in a vector format purely so it can be scaled to large shop signs, window graphics, billboards or scaled smaller to a T-Shirt embroidery or for any print work.


Vector Image File