Vector vs JPEG vs PNG vs TIFF
Welcome to the world of technology! Many times clients ask me whats the difference between many file formats. Each file type is important in its own way. But lets go through a brief introduction on the listed types and what they are meant for.
Why the file type matters?
When creating digital art for logos, posters, business cards and other promo media the way the file is stored is important for providing the best output in quality. Printing media for post cards for example needs to have a different format then for a logo or webpage. The reason is because based on how the image will be viewed by the client. For example a physical business card is printed usually by either ink or toner on paper-stock and a Logo can be used in many instances including printing, websites and large posters.
Vector vs Rasterized images.
First its important to understand the difference between a vector image vs a raster image.
Raster and Pixel Images
When people hear pixels the first thing that comes to mind is photos from a camera or smartphone. Many are interested in how many pixels your camera can produce. Since the more pixels you have the sharper the image is. This is pretty straight forward. These types of image can be called rasterized images. Raster images are basically images that have pixels to create an image. The majority of photos you see online are rasterized. However when you see a logo there is a good chance its a Vector.
One of the downfalls a rasterized image has is it looses quality over time when saving and resizing multiple times. Looking at the image above you can see the difference between raster and vector. Another downfall is if you plan on printing a large poster or image the file tends to be large slowing down the average persons computer. However the benefit to a pixelated image is the ability to have high quality color photographs and artwork. Vector images tend to be lacking color abilities as with a raster you can have hundreds or even thousands of colors.
Vector images are images based on mathematical calculations from lines and shapes. I know this can sound confusing. Imagine a group of triangles placed together to create a larger triangle. This is essentially the idea but with multiple lines and shapes to create complex images. Many logos you see online were created in programs like Adobe Illustrator to create these images. The benefit of using a Vector image is the ability to resize the image multiple times in any size without distorting the image. Since a vector is mathematically created with lines and not dots of color it will not distort or loose quality over time when saving and resizing.
JPEG or JPG files are rasterized images that are comprised of many pixels to create a image. Like mentioned before photographs, artwork and related images are meant for visual appearance. Images that are created by hundreds or thousands of color pixels placed together create a great looking image. If you were to zoom in on a JPEG or JPG image they would eventually become pixelated similar to the above image.
One thing to keep in consideration when creating a rasterized image is the amount of pixels in the file. Depending on what the image is used for may be a deciding factor to how many pixels are in the image. For example some social media sites suggest an image with 1080 x 1080 pixels. And a basic decent quality photo of 4x6 inches should have a minimum of 640 x 480 pixels. Many times you can find out the recommendation by searching on the web.
PNG files are rasterized files also. Similar to a JPEG file these files are also generated for higher color and visual appearances. The main difference between the two are PNG files are meant for transparency images. The image above shows a transparent image. When creating an image for a website or digital need PNG files allow you to remove backgrounds allowing layers to be created. This is very useful for creating new digital art on editor programs like Photoshop or GIMP.
TIFF files are also rasterized. However, these files are meant to be very large ranging from a few megabytes to hundreds of megabytes. Were a JPEG tends to be under 20mb most of the time. The reason for such large files is for the ability to hold large amounts of information creating high quality prints for posters or large promo media. Since they are large files its best to use a cloud drive to send these files. Many email providers will not allow you to send TIFF files do to capacity issues.
SVG, EPS, PDF or AI Files (Vector)
These files are meant usually for logos. Since the images are created using mathematical calculations the size can be expanded and retracted as many times as needed without distorting quality of the image. One create benefit to vector images is the ability to print without distortion of quality. Logos and printed designs can be blown up as large as needed for posters or small stickers. They are also used on websites that are responsive. Allowing the image to save its sharpness when difference sized screens view the image.
These are the main files we use at our office. Even though there are many other types of files for difference needs we have had plenty of success only using the following. For more details we suggest looking up file types online and trying out free photograph editing programs like GIMP.