What's Your Favorite (Raster) Format?

I’ve seen a discussion pop up a couple of times, and I’m curious - when you have to work with something in a raster format, which one do you prefer, and why?

For me, when I’ve done web graphics I go right to PNGs; at least when I started working in pixel art, they were the cleanest and crispest option with transparency available to me, and I’ve never had enough of a problem to go looking into an alternative.

For print, I use JPEGs, mostly - but honestly, I couldn’t tell you why except when I started working that’s what I was told to make, and I’ve just kept doing it that way. I know they have compression issues, but I don’t know enough about other formats to have enough of an opinion to switch.

Of course, I’m still relatively green, so there’s a possibility I am very, very wrong about something. Hence the curiousity!

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I wouldn’t really use the term favorites, but here’s what I typically use.

PSDs for print. Of course, when I make a press-ready PDF, those PSDs are converted to high-quality JPEGs.

For web, it’s either JPEGs or PNGs depending on whether it’s a solid color sort of graphic that needs hard edges and/or transparency or more of a photo that can be squeezed down without hurting it too much with the lossy compression.

Great question!
I just keep the original file on hand and save to a file that best fits the customer needs. My preference is .png (transparency) because it’s so versatile. Most clients wants to see a decent quality proof, quickly, via the web, so .png fits well here.

Why - jpeg is fine - what about gif or svg?

Jpeg is fine there was a time (about 20 years ago) when people were worried about jpeg artifacts showing up in print - but that was proven to be wrong - and technology has moved on so much that artifacts in jpegs wouldn’t be noticed - in fact for litho print they are almost wiped out with the halftones anyway - but in digital print it’s a different process- but much lower tollerance.

You’ll have to elaborate on that one for me - first I’ve heard of this. I’m sure when you explain it a bit more it will make sense.

Definitely for a PSD with live text - placed in InDesign or Illustartor and then exported to PDF - the live text/vector masks/vector shapes are all rasterised to the native resolution of the PSD.

For example a PSD that is 72 ppi with Live Text/Vector Shapes/Vector masks placed in InDesign - export to PDF as a high res PDF - and it will be rasterised at 72 ppi.

There’s no reason for this either - apparently there’s a simple enough switch in InDesign/Illustrator to allow the switch up - just nobody has ever turned it on in the backend.

GIFs are a good option for logos with limited colour palletes.

Be wary of PNGs in PDFs - some pdf readers (non-Adobe) what are called 3rd party (as any pdf reader not by Adobe is 3rd party) - cannot accurately display transparency in PNG (like foxit, edge, chrome etc.)

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To answer the question.

I don’t change raster version unless there is a reason.

If a jpeg is supplied - saving to a different resolution or file format will change nothing.
If a png is supplied - saving as a tiff or a psd will change nothing (except colour critical workflows)
If supplied a gif - saving as another file format changes nothing.

Only exception for me is for colour critical work or another valid reason like transparency issues.
Any transparency with spot colours need be handled.

But I can’t think of a reason to have a favourite Raster format?
Just be aware of limitations for your workflow and work towards delivering great content for your clients.

I’m gonna differ mightily on jpg not having artifacts in print. Jpg compression artifacts are indeed a thing at large sizes. You might not see them in your 11x17 prints, but they become especially noticeable in the darker shadow areas of imagery when enlarged. If given the option when selecting stock art, choose the .tif. And even then be prepared to reject it because we’ve been seeing some pretty questionable quality “stock” art blow through here lately. Far too many amateurs out there uploading “stock” art that has been interpolated way beyond practical. Just cuz it says it’s 300ppi at 11x17 doesn’t mean it really is.

As for favorite raster format, when doing scanning for work or doing my illustrating stuff, I always work in ProPhoto or RGB (not sRGB) .psd format and convert from there. What you send me to print, like Smurf2, I just print it ,with maybe a profile conversion if it’ll help things. If you really want a 256 color gif in there, okaaaaayyyyy. WhatEVer.

As with everything, no “favorite,” just the best available solution for the need at hand. Be aware of properties and limitations, and avoid (additional) destructive compression when possible. That’s it.

I totally agree with this.

But converting your crappy jpeg images to tiff or psd is not going to do anything the artefacts are alrady there.

Nope. That’s why I’ll print whatever you send. I can’t fix stupid
Though I might call, or send an email with a full scale screenshot, or send a hard proof if you want to pay for it, just to review any images with questionable resolution

I used to send a sliver of an offcut at end of another job.

I’m referring to when the .PSD has been placed into an InDesign file. When the InDesign file is saved out to a press-quality PDF, the default option is for the photos to be saved as JPEGs. There are options to save the images with varying degrees of JPEG compression in addition to no compression or ZIP. Which setting I use depends on the job, but more often than not, it’ll be JPEG set to “Maximum Quality” (minimum lossy compression).

Thought this is what you meant - but wasn’t sure.

Zip vs Automatic JPEG compression comes up from time to time.

PDF export from inDesign/Illustrator will pick out the the vector vs non-vector and compress them accordingly.

PSD are rasterised to the native resolution of the PSD file. Unless it’s over the threshold set in the PDF settings for images above a certain ppi.

Automatic JPEG each image is checked and either ZIP or Jpeg is applied. There’s a lot of things that can be critical for printing, but if it’s bog standard stuff then this setting is best.
If it’s not bog-standard and critical I wouldn’t use Automatic Jpeg.

The truth of it - there’s little difference in the compression the lossy compression gives compared to the zip compressed when it’s set to maximum quality - it would be difficult to tell the difference in a photo.

JPEG2000 actually gives better compression than both. But some RIPs or 3rd Party PDF readers will not be able to decode them - so that’s why it’s barely used.

Ok thanks for the heads up.
I’m trying to think if I’ve incorporated .png files to .pdf’s🤔 caught me off guard…ok off to inspect my .pdf docs😆

Well unfair to pick on PNG really - I think 24bit PNG are ok - but some readers may have issues with it.
But sometimes transparency in PDFs can’t be read by 3rd party readers - only Adobe is the native PDF reader (Adobe is the author of the PDF format) - every other PDF reader is a 3rd Party version that may not adhere to all the pdf moudles.

Hey thanks for the elaboration! To elaborate on mine, some of my earliest work in design was making pixel art for those little click-pet websites. At the time I started, .gif’s were limited in their colorspace, and jpegs didn’t offer the transparency needed. PNGs, at the time, had the best display-quality-to-problems-caused ratio, and I just haven’t ever come across a reason to change to anything else. Gif’s have gotten better with their color profiles since then, but my brain still reserves that format out for small, looping animations more than anything else. It doesn’t help that there are “gifs with sound” out there now. I don’t get how that’s not just a video format, but I digress.

That being said, I can’t say much on SVGs - I’ve only recently run across them, and haven’t had to use them enough to have an opinion on them. If you’ve got a reason to sing their praises, though, I’m all ears! Part of why I asked the question in general is wondering if any of my old habits are bad habits; or rather, if they could be better.

The only thing I use .svg files for is that’s the only format our toy laser at work recognizes. LOL.
They’re just “scalable vector graphics.” Oh, yeah, and TV people send me .svg animation screen caps all the time as that is sometimes the only way a logo created for an animation sequence in a show is exportable to something we can make in 3D using Illustrator. (whew that was a mouthful.)

I’ve used SVGs for relatively simple web graphics for years. They’re small, completely scalable, support transparency and can be animated and interacted with in various ways using CSS and JavaScript.

As useful as they are on websites, I’ve never found a purpose for them elsewhere since there are better alternatives, like a plain, old Illustrator files.

It’s funny that InDesign accepts placing of SVG these days.

Make a PDF from the file - and you can’t tell if it was an Illustrator file or other.

I have never tried placing a SVG for print. Although I think I have found some company logos on their websites where they used SVG - as it was non-critical I have saved them - opened them - and resaved to .ai - check for issues and proceed.

It’s not that I don’t trust the SVG process. I just can’t afford for a random printer somewhere in the world (and my printing is all over the world from Mexico, to Spain, to Italy, to Germany).

Better safe than sorry - right!

Now I get why you were saying about saving files to PSD - I guess you’re right. It makes sense to allay and worries at a printers that you know what works.

I don’t know why I didn’t get that that day - somedays are better than others for me.

As far as I can tell, SVG has gained popularity in mobile app development. I’m routinely asked to provide technical illustrations in SVG for placement in my client’s home automation apps, where layouts have to be responsive to various phone, phablet, tablet, and laptop screens. It took a while to nail down a reliable export routine because there are several cryptic options that can affect the accuracy of the outcome, but in any case the scalable on-screen rendering is much better than a rasterized-at-one-size version.

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