Saving a design with the correct file format makes all the difference. Every file format has certain characteristics that make it optimal for particular environments. Learning the features of each file extension helps to improve your design workflow and image output.
There are three main file types to choose from when downloading your design in our online editing tool, Shutterstock Create: JPG, PNG, and PDF. Online and web applications call for JPGs and PNGs, while print images are best saved as PDFs.
Since these file types are among the most popular on the web, Create’s editing assets make it easy to upload or download designs anywhere, stress free. To locate your file options inside Create, simply click Download to see them. From there, you’ll be able to choose image quality options before downloading.
Now, let’s go over how each format differs and when to use each type.
If You’re Uploading an Image to the Web, Save As a. . . .
A JPG, or Joint Photographics Expert Group, is best for high quality raster images. Their small file sizes are optimal for file exchange and image upload constraints.
The main benefit of JPGs is their compatibility—they can be downloaded and uploaded to almost any software or program.
The only downside of JPGs is that they use lossy compression, which means data is lost during compression. This can cause banding or fuzziness for heavily compressed images.
These file types are ideal for online-only images and designs. When exporting as a JPG, (remember, just click Download), choose High image quality in Create. Avoid printing JPG images because their quality can suffer.
Another option when uploading to online or web platforms is the PNG, or Portable Network Graphic. This file type is reserved for web design, icons, or logos that require levels of transparency.
A transparent image allows you to upload your icon or design to platforms without fear of seeing bounding boxes. PNGs also utilize lossless compression, meaning they retain the quality of the original picture.
Due to PNGs’ online-only presence, it is best to download this file as High image quality as well in Create.
If You’re Printing an Image, Save As a. . . .
A PDF, or Portable Document Format, is one of the best options when setting your image or design for print. This file format is extremely compatible and can be accessed and opened within every application.
PDFs are ideal for both online and print documents. The files take up little space in the hard drive, making them easy to exchange and send to the printer.
When printing a PDF, make sure to set the image resolution to High. This prepares the design to be printed at a professional quality when using a decent printer. In general, you’ll want to download in High quality, unless you’re not using your images for any significant purpose.
While Create doesn’t include TIFF file formats, it helps to know what they are. For your image to be printed at upmost quality, export it as a TIFF, or Tagged Image File Format. TIFF files use a lossless format, just like PNGs.
While these files retain extreme detail without affecting quality, TIFF files can be big. This makes them difficult to exchange amongst viewers and too big for the web.
That’s why PNGs are a great alternative, and popular inside Create. If using a software that allows TIFF files, when exporting, save at 300 DPI to ensure your image is printed at the best quality.
Look at you go, Creator!
Searching for more design terminology and tips? Check out these informative articles:
License this cover image mockup via Roman Samborskyi, Curly Pat, and andromina.