IMAGE FORMAT MATTERS – THE ULTIMATE BREAKDOWN OF WHAT FILE TO USE WHEN

Your printer says, “I need that in vector.”

Your web designer says, “Can you get me a low-res jpeg of that image?”
 
Your social media marketer says, “Do you have your logo in a transparent PNG?”

And you’re like…

In a world of JPEG, PDF, PNG, EPS and GIF (wait… is it GIF or JIF?), things can be super confusing! Let me try to explain them all and hopefully next time someone is asking you for a certain file format, you’ll be able to respond with “No problem – Here you go!”

Raster vs. Vector

Raster images are made up of a grid of pixels, or blocks of color that all come together make an image.  Think Minecraft. Each pixel has certain proportions, so the image looks great – crystal clear. But if you stretch or shrink that image from its original size, you often end up with a pixelated look – blurry or blocky looking.  Raster files are typically photographs, animation, video, and web graphics.

All raster images can be saved in one of two primary color models: CMYK and RGB.  CMYK is a four-color printing process that stands for cyanmagentayellow and key (black). These colors represent the four inks that are used during the printing process. Files saved in this format are meant primarily for printing. RGB is a light-based color model that stands for redgreen and blue. These are the three primary colors of light that combine to produce other colors. Files saved in this format are ideal for anything that will be viewed on a screen – computers, mobile phones, video games, television, etc.

Vector files, on the other hand, are made up of points, lines, curves in a specific proportion that is calculated by the computer – instead of using blocky pixels like in raster images. In the more sophisticated vector format, all of the equations that make up a graphic can be adjusted in size infinitely without losing resolution.  You can make create billboard-sized graphics or make them tiny enough to be printed on a pen and the image would look equally clear on both.

So let’s jump into the different file formats!

Description:

  • Most common image file
  • Go-to, cover-your-bases kind of file

Use For: 

  • Proofing and sharing work-in-progress
  • Web
  • Web banners/ads
  • Social Media
  • Email
  • Print (ensure you have high resolution files!)

Do Not Use For:

  • Transparent backgrounds
  • Versatile pieces where resizing is needed

Description:

  • Common image file
  • Smaller file size without a loss in quality
  • Less blur than JPGs when resized
  • Supports transparent backgrounds

Use For: 

  • Web
  • Email

Do Not Use For:

  • Print

Description:

  • Supports transparent backgrounds (but not as well as PNG)
  • Widely used for animated graphics like for social media or texting
  • Smaller file size

Use For: 

  • Web
  • Social Media
  • Animation

Do Not Use For:

  • Print

Description:

  • Highest-quality image files
  • Scanned documents
  • Professional digital camera

Use For: 

  • Print
  • Photography
  • Large format

Do Not Use For:

  • Web
  • Email

Description:

  • Unprocessed data from a digital camera or scanner’s sensor
  • High-quality image containing both processed and non-processed data

Use For: 

  • Use program, like Photoshop, to adjust color, tints, brightness, etc.
  • Then it is saved as a JPEG or TIFF because it has been processed.

Do Not Use For:

 

Description:

  • Fully editable design file
  • Can be exported (saved) as a JPEG, PNG, PDF, GIF, TIFF, etc.

Use For: 

  • Creating and editing raster file types

Do Not Use For:

  • Logo design
  • Illustrations

 

Description:

  • Designed to be easily shared between computers, programs, people
  • Contains text and raster & vector images
  • Retains look (font, images, etc.)
  • Can be editable

Use For: 

  • Digital
  • Print
  • Multiple pages

Do Not Use For:

  • Photography

 

Description:

  • One of the most preferred formats by digital designers
  • Resolution-independent and infinitely scalable (looks good at any size)
  • Supports transparent background
  • Fully editable
  • Can be exported/saved to various formats (jpg, png, etc.)

Use For: 

  • Print
  • Illustration
  • Logo Design

Do Not Use For:

  • Web
  • Email

 

Description:

  • Resolution-independent and infinitely scalable, (looks good at any size)

Use For: 

  • Web
  • Email

Do Not Use For:

  • Print
  • Sharing files (not well known)

 

Description:

  • Fully editable design file
  • Can include embedded or linked raster images
  • Can be exported/saved to any format (EPS, PDF, JPEG, PNG, GIF, TIFF, etc.)

Use For: 

  • Logo design
  • Large format design

Do Not Use For:

  • Photography

 

Did you ever realize there were so many different file formats for images?  Hopefully, this helps you understand the various image files, and in turn, what formats you can ask for to help your next project!


MEET HARRY SEMERJIAN

If you need something cleaned, call Harry. Seriously! Even if it’s not his mess, he’ll offer to fix it for you. As Stellar’s SEO expert, Harry's insight into a client's business is a valuable tool reaching more than just online audiences, but customers in the real world too! Harry has owned a handful of businesses since the ripe old age of 13 ranging from manufacturing to real estate to business services. A true Renaissance man, Harry can speak with someone for less than 30 minutes and have a complete business strategy worked out in his head leading them to definite success. A father of two teenage boys, Harry knows a thing or two about dealing with people on the brink of insanity. He fits in well at Stellar.


MEET BODHI

Named after Patrick Swayze’s character in Point Break, Bodhi joined the Stellar team in May 2017 and we don’t know how we got through the prior 6 years without an office dog! Adopted from Animal House Shelter, Bodhi is a Pitbull/American Bulldog mix that his human Lindsay cannot believe someone gave up. Bully breeds definitely get a bad rap because there is nothing sweeter than this 65-pound “lap dog” climbing into someone’s chair as we gather around the conference table. With as much charisma as his namesake, Bodhi greets visitors to the office with a toy in his mouth ready to play. He hasn’t quite developed any marketing skills just yet, but he can spot a duck or another dog out the window like nobody’s business.


MEET KRISTIN KILIAN

Anything that gets thrown Kristin’s way is handled with ease… at least as far as we know. Coming from the retail industry, Kristin is no stranger to a fast paced, ever-changing environment and has no problem adapting to the chaos that comes with managing Stellar’s high profile clients. With years of experience managing all aspects of communications for Fortune 500 companies, Kristin is able to schmooze clients, conquer any task, and ensure everything is running smoothly… even when it’s not! A Hallmark movie fan, Kristin loves spending time with her firefighter husband and rambunctious toddler.


MEET SYLVIA CARRANO

Lover of tacos, dogs, and all things Justin Timberlake, Sylvia brings an honest perspective to not only projects, but office chit-chat as well! When onboarding new clients, tons of experience making people happy in the service industry and her marketing degree from DePaul allows Sylvia to jump right in and hit the ground running. In her role as Account Manager, Sylvia truly gets to know a client – understanding all the ins and outs that make them stand out from their competitors. Sylvia’s skillset is continually expanding and ranges from social media to email marketing to web design and more. She loves to travel and has been around the world and has visited 45 of our nation's 50 great states!


MEET LYNNE HARKIN

Using a space heater at her desk year-round, Lynne is no stranger to turning it up. With a background in retail and corporate sales, Lynne brings practical knowledge to help Stellar clients determine their path to success. As our content writer extraordinaire, Lynne helps brands find their voice and reaches a whole new world of customers. You may hear her getting flustered from time to time, but it’s always short-lived. Her get ‘er done, take charge attitude works in her capacity at Stellar and as the busy mom of 3 busy boys.


MEET CHRISTINA WOJTOWICZ

As a lover of spicy treats, Christina is a no-nonsense, get the job done kind of a girl. Any task thrown her way is done quicker than you can say Siracha! As our resident Web Developer, troubleshooting issues is her specialty… just like at home as the mother of two young sons! Christina’s ad agency background and experience developing websites adds another layer of insight to our client’s marketing efforts. You’ll often see her hiking and biking with her family (with a stop off at their favorite Dairy Queen for a treat!).


MEET MOLLY FIVELSON

Known around the office as Molly Pee Pee Pants, our resident Graphic Designer has more than just a small bladder. Her experience designing logos, developing brands, and creating amazing materials for Stellar clients brings a fresh perspective and artistic flair.  Molly’s easy-going attitude makes her the perfect candidate to work with constant changes and multiple ongoing projects. When she’s not out saving lives along the side of the road, she lives as a baseball widow and chauffeurs her kids to all their activities.


MEET SIN VAN V

Known for her rainbow hair, Sin is never one to settle for just one style. She pushes the Stellar team to think outside the box and consider things they would have never done before. Her Bachelor’s in Graphic Arts & Illustration from the American Academy of Art is just the tip of what she’s learned. With real-world experience in business management, marketing and promotions, event planning, and vendor coordination, Sin’s experience gives Stellar an Edge over the competition (see what we did there?). Despite her edgy moniker, Sin is a kid at heart riding her scooter, dragging the Stellar team on crazy outings, and smothering her adult son and daughter with embarrassing hugs and kisses.


MEET LINDSAY COATS

Known as the Dream Crusher, Lindsay’s level head keeps the office running like a well-oiled machine. When everyone else is trying to get in human-sized balloons and doing mid-day yoga, Lindsay is crunching numbers in a spreadsheet – literally one of her favorite things to do. With a Bachelor’s in Business Administration, Lindsay has the know-how to help Stellar clients make the right decisions to reach their goals. She loves problem-solving and making things work. She has a soft spot for kids and animals… she’s been known to grab babies from strangers and roll on the ground with any dog that will snuggle her.