File Types

Explained

"What are all of these different files used for?"

"Which one do I use for printing?"

"Why is there a white box around my logo?"

 

These are some of the most frequently asked questions I get from my clients. 

As a designer who works with these file types every day I sometimes forget that not everyone understands all the different file types, their pros, cons, and purpose.

If you've ever questioned files and how to use them then this blog post is for you!

Grab a coffee, and enjoy File Types Explained!

The Two Types of Files 

Let's start with the basics...

There are two types of files: Raster Files & Vector Files

Raster is made up of what's called pixels that look like many small squares or dots.

A raster file is best used for digital photos, or detailed graphics. Better defined as non-line art images because these images typically include a very fast change from one shade, tone, or color to another, imprecise shapes/lines, and complexity within the image. 

Since raster images are pixel-based they will almost always experience the dilemma of being "imperfect to the eye." when used incorrectly. Just as a photo becomes blurry a raster image becomes noticeably imprecise when viewed up close because you are seeing each individual pixel that makes up the image.

RASTER IMAGE

Now, that doesn't mean you should never blow up a raster image it just means you have to pay attention to a few details when doing so - the main detail being the images resolution.

 

All raster images are dependant on what's called resolution - the amount of detail an image has. Resolution of a raster image deals with the number of pixels in that image. Good resolution or a higher quality image means there is a higher number of pixels.

 

To control the number of pixels within your raster image you check the dpi, dots per inch. For a good resolution you want a higher dpi. 

Vector files on the other hand are not made up of any sort of pixels. Vector images are based on a math formula that essentially creates defined lines and shapes making it possible to scale. Most vector files are logos, fonts, line art, etc.

 

Vector graphics tend to be more versatile, and easy to use compared to raster images. Unlike a raster image you are not bound to a fixed resolution when it comes to vector files. The quality of a vector image is dependant on whatever device is making it.

 

Another advantage of these file types is that they tend to be much smaller than raster images because this file lacks the millions of tiny pixels for the file to store.

VECTOR IMAGE

File Formats to Know: Raster File Types

.JPG or .JPEG - Joint Photographic Experts Group

Use a .jpg for photographs, high-quality photography, images that require color transitions such as gradients and drop shadows. Does not support transparency.

.GIF - Graphics Interchange Format

Pronounced "jiff." Use a .gif for clip art, and images with areas of solid color, charts, and graphic text. Known to support transparency and animation. Best for online use.

.PNG - Portable Network Graphics

Use a .png for graphics and text. This file format supports transparency which will allow you to place the file on top of any background of your choice. 

.PSD - (Adobe) Photoshop Data file

A .psd is used to update, change, and finalize templates, graphics, photos, and more. This file is used in an image editing software commonly used by graphic designers, publishers, and other creative professionals. You will not need to open this file unless you are a designer or planning to change part of the file. A designer may give you this file for the future in the case you or another designer will need it. 

File Formats to Know: Vector File Types

.PDF - Portable Document Format

PDF documents are good for print and digital use. A .pdf document can contain links, buttons, form fields, video, and information. You can use this format to save a file, share it, and have it modified later.

.AI - Adobe Illustrator Artwork

An .ai file is used to update, change, and finalize vector based graphics, logos, and more. This file is used in the design software Adobe Illustrator commonly used by graphic designers, publishers, and other creative professionals. Like a .psd file you will not need to open this file unless you are a designer or planning to change part of the contents in the file. 

.EPS - Encapsulated PostScript

An EPS file is often used by creative professionals to save artwork, such as logos and drawings. This format can contain 2D vector graphics, text, and bitmap images. Best used for large format printing (signs, billboards, etc.)

FREEBIE!

Don't forget to download the freebie below to reference each file type and how to use them. It's FREE!

xo, Hannah

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