What Image Type Is Best?

March 18, 2010
Eric Johnson

By Eric Johnson | Minuteman Press




What Image Type Is Best?


     Images are something we see in all types of printed material we read and use in our daily lives.  Our mind remembers pictures more than words, at least for most of us.  Using the correct image format is vital to image quality.  Using the wrong image format for a certain type of image can not only affect the clarity of the image, but may limit the number of ways the image can be used in other print projects.
     There are two major classifications of images.  The first is vector images, and the second is raster images.  So, what's the difference?  Vector images are actually mathematically formulated. Don't worry, I won't get all scientific on you.  Just know that these images are comprised of points, curves, and angles rather than dots like other image formats. Raster images on the other hand are made up of a series of dots.  The quality of a raster image can be drastically noticed when resizing it depending on the number of pixels the original image started with.  If the original was a photograph with a high resolution, it will be less affected when enlarging it somewhat.  There are much greater limitations as to how large you can make raster images compared to vector images.  So which is better?  The question you really should ask is, "how do I intend to use my image?"  Sometimes the answer is made up for you. For example, if the image in question is a photograph, then the camera created a .jpg extension file which is a raster image. You have a choice when creating your logo however.  The best format when creating your logo is to use a vector format.  The reason for this is that you can use this as a small image to make your business cards, and change it to a much larger version for items such as vehicle graphics or signs. "Won't the image get blurry when I enlarge it for my signs?"  That's the beauty of a vector image.  The answer is no, because the way the image is created allows it to be resized without losing its quality. Other file extensions to watch for are .gif, .png, and .tif which are related to raster images. "My logo was created in a raster image format.  I know this beacuse of the file extension, and when I enlarge it the picture gets very fuzzy.  How can I fix this?"  You could can still redraw your logo as a vector, or we can do it for you.
     "How do I create a vector image?"  There are certain software programs that are designed to create these kinds of images.  The file extensions they create are .ai, .eps, .svg, and .drw which indicate these types of files. Adobe Illustrator, Macromedia Freehand, and Adobe Flash are common programs used to create vector images.  Does it really make that much difference?  Again, problems can arise when taking a small image and making it larger. "I don't have the right software, so now what?"   Don't worry, we do have the correct software. Simply click here to "Ask for Help", and we will help you design your project correctly. "Well I know what I want in my head, but I'm not sure I can properly express it in an email."  No problem, simply click here to "Make an Appointment", and we will sit down with you to discuss your ideas.