Best File Type For Digital Art

When I finished my first ever digital art piece, I had to select which file type I wanted to save my artwork as.

Back then, I had no clue that file types such as JPEG, PNG, GIF, TIFF, EPS, etc. would affect the quality, file size, and suitability of my artwork.

I learned that the hard way, but I have described the key points below, so you don’t have to.

When saving digital art on your devices, the best file format to use is TIFF. It retains a high-quality image that is not compressed despite its large file size. It also ensures high-quality physical prints of your artwork.

If you intend on uploading your digital art online, the best option would be either JPEG or PNG. The JPEG file format reduces the file size of the image and compresses some of the data that makes it faster to load online. If your artwork contains text, the PNG file format would be best to ensure that the text is readable to online viewers.

For professional logos, icons, and simple illustrations subject to multiple uses, the EPS and SVG format ensures that the images can be reused, distributed, and scaled to whichever size without losing their quality.

There is not really any file type that is ultimately superior to the others. Rather, you should choose the file type that best suits your plans for the artwork, e.g., your preferred quality, and file size.

To know more about these file types and when to use them, continue reading below.

The Best File Types For Storing Digital Art and Printing

#1 TIFF – Tagged Image File Format

TIFF is a lossless file type which means that it stores all the data of the illustration needed for the best quality. With that, the illustrations in TIFF format usually come in large file sizes since it doesn’t compress the data of the images.

Since it stores the highest quality of the image, it is also the best file type for printing your artwork.

On the downside, as TIFF is typically in such high-quality and large file sizes, most browsers such as Mozilla, Edge, Chrome, etc. cannot render this file type without the help of additional extensions.

TIFF files can be viewed with the default photo viewers of Windows and Mac. It can be opened with most professional drawing software such as Krita, Adobe Photoshop, and Illustrator.

#2 EPS – Encapsulated PostScript

EPS is a vector file format where the quality remains crisp and clear which makes it ideal for logos, icons, and other simple illustrations that are frequently reused in various sizes. It can be scaled to a smaller or larger size without losing its quality.

It’s supported by Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator, but it’s not recommended for online usage since it’s not supported by major browsers.

It’s best for printing logos, icons, and illustrations in a high-quality vector format since many printers support this format.

The Best File Types For Uploading Digital Art Online

Most digital artists take to the internet to share their creations, compile their artworks, gain an audience, and find potential clients with their online portfolios.

In this digital age, it’s essential to know which file formats would best suit your illustrations.

The most commonly used file formats for sharing artwork online are PNG and JPEG, but as you can read below, SVG and GIF can be better choices depending on your purpose.

gin and flower

This drawing works well in the PNG format as it is simple and has few colors.

JPEG Or PNG For Digital Art Online?

Use JPEG if you’re uploading images, character illustrations, backgrounds, and other illustrations without text. JPEG loads faster online due to its compressed file size and quality. It doesn’t support transparent background though.

Use PNG if you’re uploading illustrations that feature text, simple illustrations with few colors, and those with transparent backgrounds. PNG ensures that texts are readable, and illustrations are crisp. It supports a transparent background.

For further information on which file format serves you better, continue reading below.

For Characters, Backgrounds, Images Without Text Use JPEG or JPG

Perhaps one of the most widely used file formats on the internet is JPEG (Joint Photographic Experts Group). Because JPEG is a lossy file type, the file size is often compressed along with the photo’s quality. Unlike TIFF, some image data of JPEG gets lost as its file size reduces, but it’s usually negligible if you only intend to display your artwork on the internet.

Since it doesn’t take up too much space and bandwidth, JPEG is perfect for web use. This file type also allows websites to load faster and display images without compromising the website load speed.

As it is universally used, every known browser supports this file format. Even social media sites such as Instagram and Facebook automatically convert uploaded images into the said format.

The downside of JPEG is that you can’t use it to save illustrations with a transparent background, and it is not advised to use for illustrations that feature text. Other than that, JPEG is best for uploading artworks without major texts or transparent backgrounds.

For Simple Illustrations, With Text And/Or Transparent Background Use PNG

Another widely used file type on the internet is PNG (Portable Network Graphics). Unlike JPEG, PNG is a lossless file type which means the quality of the illustration is maintained even when its file size is compressed.

It features the quality of a TIFF file but has a similar file size to JPEG that is widely used on the internet. It’s supported by all major browsers that we use.

Although it may have a larger file size than JPEG, it is still advisable for use on the web since it promises the readability of images with text that JPEG doesn’t. Its best use is for infographics, banners, comics, other illustrations that feature text, and simple illustrations with few colors.

It also allows for saving images with transparent backgrounds, another feature that JPEG lacks.

For Vector Logos, Icons, Etc. Use SVG

SVG (Scaleable Vector Graphic) is a vector file format based on XML text that displays shapes and lines based on mathematical equations rather than pixels. Vector file types can be made larger or smaller without losing their quality which makes it perfect for logos that will be used for various purposes online.

Although it’s acceptable to use PNG for logos and icons, it’s only a raster file type that will eventually be pixelized at a scale. So, SVG is the best option for infinite scaling of logos and icons.

It is supported by most major browsers and can be opened with programs such as Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop.

A downside of this format is that most printers don’t support this file type, so it’s only advised for web usage.

For Storing And Uploading Simple Animations Use GIF

GIF (Graphics Interchange Format) is the file type usually used to upload short, simple animations on the internet because of its low file size. It’s a lossless file type but is only limited to displaying 256 colors or 8-bits per pixel. So, it’s not suitable for images or animations that require more than its 8-bit capacity.

It is supported by all major browsers and is popular for its animation support and low file size which makes it internet friendly.

About the author: My name is Marcus, I am a lawyer (LL.M.) and the founder of this website. Besides sometimes doing lawyer stuff, I like to draw and improve my skills as a “digital artist”, and I write about what I learn on this website. If you want to know more about me or reach out, then you can click here.

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