As illustrators we use a few digital file formats in the course of the work we produce, and even though knowing about them is important, we tend to take them for granted. Especially when the software we are using offers up convenient default options for formatting and saving our files.
The Basics of File Extensions
The Reason for File Formats
|JPEG low resolution color sample.
|JPEG maximum resolution color sample.
|GIF 256 color sample.
|GIF 256 color sample with maximum pixel dithering.
PNG stands for “Portable Network Graphics”. Preceded by .gif, the .png format has all but replaced .gif for use by illustrators when converting images for the web. .png is known for lossless compression in a raster image format. Another advantage over .gif is that the .png format comes in two sizes; PNG-8 or 8-bit per pixel, and PNG-24 or 24-bit per pixel; 256 colors and 16,777,216 colors. PNG-24 can handle full color illustrations and photographs while PNG-8 is better suited for limited color images. One limitation of .png is that it only supports the RGB color space. For this reason .jpg is the preferred format for full color images, but .png may be a better choice for illustrations that use a limited color pallet or solid colors.
|PNG-8 color sample, 256 colors.
|PNG-24 color sample, 16,777,216 colors.
The SVG file type is primarily associated with “Scalable Vector Graphics”. SVG is a language for describing two-dimensional shapes, text, and embedded raster graphics. Although not a natively supported by Adobe, SVG images can be created and exported from Adobe Creative Suite programs, such as Illustrator for use on the web. SVG is ideal for interactive, data-driven, personalized graphics. It is widely supported by modern web browsers.