What files types you should be asking your designer for and why.
Vector, Vector, Vector!
One of the most frequent questions I get asked about from my clients is what does the word ‘vector’ mean. Well, in designer lingo this is the designer files that can be enlarged exponentially and still remain clear and crisp (with no blurry edges or distortion). Your designer should provide you with the final files in a raster format that’s accessible to you (such as .pdf, .png, .jpeg) as well as the designer vector files (.eps, .ai) for future use.
The way I describe it to my clients is that the vector files will be used for any high resolution print jobs, including the day we put your logo on a billboard. While you may not be able to open the .ai or .eps files on your computer, any future designer that you use will be able to open these and these files are like the pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. Always keep these files safe!
Here’s a little breakdown of the files types
.png, .jpeg, .psd, .gif, .raw, .tiff
Raster images are constructed by a series of pixels, or individual blocks, to form an image. Every photo is a raster image. Pixels have a defined proportion based on their resolution (high or low) and if pixels are stretched larger than intended, they become pixellated, resulting in blurry or distorted images (we don't like this)! A brand should never be sharing, printing or distributing blurry collateral.
Vector Image Files
.ai, .eps, .pdf, .indd
Vector images are the bomb-diggity. They’re not limited by pixels, so can be used for really small print jobs through to really large print jobs (imagine your logo on a billboard or truck). Your logo and brand graphics should have been created as a vector, and you should always have a master file on hand. Even though the above file types are vector files, raster files can still be inserted into these documents (such as photographs or raster graphics). An image isn’t truly vector unless it has outlines and can be enlarged without pixelation.
JPEG (or JPG) - Joint Photographic Experts Group
JPEGs are very common for web-use; the quality of the image decreases as the file size decreases.
PNG - Portable Network Graphics
PNGs are amazing for interactive documents such as web pages, but are not suitable for print.
GIF - Graphics Interchange Format
Whoop whoop! Who doesn’t love a good GIF? This is a common file type for web projects where an image needs to load very quickly, as opposed to one that needs to retain a higher level of quality.
GIF's are also a great way to communicate through funny little movies that just keep looping! Who doesn't love a good GIF, amiright? Hot tip: your designer can make GIF's so if you need one for your biz, get onto it - they're so hot right now.
TIFF - Tagged Image File
A TIF is a large raster file that doesn't lose quality.
PSD - Photoshop Document
The largest disadvantage to PSDs is that Photoshop works with raster images as opposed to vector images.
PDF - Portable Document Format
If a designer saves your vector logo in PDF format, you can view it without any design editing software (as long as you have downloaded the free Acrobat Reader software), and they have the ability to use this file to make further manipulations. This is by far the best universal tool for sharing graphics.
EPS - Encapsulated Postscript
EPS is a file in vector format that has been designed to produce high-resolution graphics for print. Almost any kind of design software can create an EPS.
AI - Adobe Illustrator Document
AI is, by far, the image format most preferred by designers and the most reliable type of file format for using images in all types of projects from web to print, etc.
INDD - Adobe Indesign Document
INDDs (Indesign Document) are files that are created and saved in Adobe Indesign. Indesign is commonly used to create larger publications, such as newspapers, magazines and eBooks.
RAW - Raw Image Formats
A RAW image is the least-processed image type on this list -- it's often the first format a picture inherits when it's created. When you snap a photo with your camera, it's saved immediately in a raw file format.
High Resolution vs. Low Resolution
Have you heard your designer talk about DPI or PPI? DPI stands for "dots per inch" and PPI translates to "pixels per inch." These units of measure are essential for determining if the density of pixels in an image is appropriate for the application you are using.
The biggest thing to note when determining what DPI or PPI you require is if you are using an image for print or web. Websites display images at 72dpi, which is low resolution; however images at this resolution look really crisp on the web. This is not the case for print. Best practices for printing an image will require it to be no less than 300dpi.
Your designer isn’t a magician (although, I can do a couple of card tricks). A lot of magic can happen in Photoshop, but creating pixels out of thin air isn't one of them. Pulling an image off of the web and trying to get it to fit the dimensions of your print project just won't work. You will end up with a pixelated image that appears stretched and distorted - which we totally don’t want.
If you don’t have your business branding in vector files, it’s time for you to talk to a designer about getting your brand digital.
Hope you enjoyed the read!
Founder & Creative Director
Brodi-Rose Creative Co.
Wanna chat? Contact me here.