In this article I will explain the six most frequently used, file format by graphic designers.
Vector VS Raster
A vector file works on a mathematical formula system. Due to the mathematical system, vector file types such as EPS, AI and PDF* are excellent for creating graphics that frequently require resizing. This is why it is important that logos are created in vector. Logos must be versatile and be able to print on smaller items such as your business card, but also on larger surfaces such as a billboard.
A raster file is based upon a pixel grid system. Each pixel is assigned a color to create an image. Raster images can’t be dramatically resized without compromising the resolution, they are presented at a set size. When stretched to fit a space they weren’t designed to fill, their pixels become visibly grainy and the image distorts. This is why altered photos may appear pixelated or low resolution.
Lossy VS Lossless
These are two main considerations much like vector and raster when it comes to file formats. Lossy means when you save a file to that format you are losing data. Lossy files typically removes unnecessary data to reduce file size. Lossless file formats maintain all the data from the original file.
JPEG or JPG
JPG (or JPEG) is a lossy raster image format and is a commonly used method of lossy compression for digital images, such as photographs. JPEG stands for Joint Photographic Experts Group, the name of the committee that created the JPEG standard. JPEG is currently the world’s most common online image format. JPEG allows the ability to selectively compress or to select a compression level when saving from Photoshop. A JPEG can’t have a transparent background so they are always in the shape of a rectangle or square with a solid background.
PNG is a lossless raster file format. PNG stands for Portable Network Graphic. This file is also commonly used on the web. An advantage of PNG over JPEG is that the compression is lossless, meaning there is no loss in quality each time it is opened and saved again. The biggest advantage is that a PNG allows transparency, which is extremely useful to overlay on other objects.
TIFF is a lossless raster format. TIFF stands for Tagged Image Format. It is extremely high quality and it is most commonly used in print. Not ideal for the web, due to the large file size.
EPS stands for Encapsulated Postscript. This is a vector file format. However, it can also contain raster images. This is typically used to contain a single design such as a logo. The end product is intended to be printed at whatever size necessary. It is a vector file, so scaling up the size before printing will not cause any issues.
SVG is a vector file and stands for Scalable Vector Graphics. This file is more like a web standards when it comes to vector graphics.
PDF stands for Portable Document Format, this is a vector file format. However, it can also contain raster images. PDF is like a big container for multiple file formats. It is also very popular for printing, because it is near universal standard. It can also be used online to display complex documents.
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